What is the Recovery Process of LASIK Eye Surgery?

What is the Recovery Process of LASIK Eye Surgery?

Most people who get laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery may notice an instant improvement in their vision, or by the next day or so, but it takes the eye about three to six months to completely recover and heal.
To make sure that you make a safe and full recovery and prevent complications, such as infection, so, it's important to follow your surgeon's instructions to the mark.

Surgery Follow-Up

After LASIK eye surgery, it's pertinent you follow up with your eye surgeon as advised.
Usually, you will have an appointment within 24 to 48 hours after your surgery. During this appointment, your doctor will examine your eyes and they will test your vision. Your doctor may give you medication eye drops (e.g., an antibiotic or steroid) in preventing infection and inflammation.
Over the next six months, you may experience some fluctuations and disturbances in your vision, such as dry eyes and hindered night vision, seeing glares or halos around lights. If this is the case you will have several scheduled follow-up visits to check the progress of your eye healing and recovery.
Your follow-up appointments are important for full recovery and vision. Thus, they must not be neglected.

Recovery Timeline

In the first 24 hours after LASIK surgery, you need to rest your eyes and monitor your symptoms. Have someone drive you home after surgery and your eye surgeon will tell you to nap or relax in bed and to avoid reading, watching television, or using mobiles and other screen devices, as they may strain your eyes.

Some symptoms you may experience immediately after LASIK include:

  • Discomfort in the eye, especially after the topical anaesthetic wears off
  • Dryness in the eyes
  • Irritation of the eye, itching, or burning sensation
  • Blurry vision
  • Small areas of bleeding on the whites of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing streaks, glares, starbursts, or halos, especially at night

The above symptoms vary from person to person. Usually, eye discomfort or itching/burning only lasts for around five hours after surgery.

The other symptoms after the surgery like blurry vision, do get better within the first week. In some patients, the dryness of the eye may last up to six to 12 months.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

During your recovery period, contact your healthcare provider right away if:

You are having severe eye pain

Symptoms that should be temporary, such as hazy vision or eye burning, are worsening

You are hit or poked in the eye

Additionally, to resting for the first 24 hours, your surgeon will give you specific instructions for you to follow for the next two to four weeks. These instructions are:

To wear sunglasses during the day

Asking you to wear a patch or eye shield at night (your surgeon may place a see-through shield over your eye at the end of the surgery)

  • Avoid swimming and hot tubs
  • Avoid dry and dusty environments
  • Do not rub or touch your eyes
  • Do not apply lotions, creams, and makeup around your eyes
  • Try to keep soap and shampoo out of your eyes while showering 
The doctor may also recommend some medications to ease your symptoms, like:
  • Artificial tears or eye drops for eye dryness
  • A pain reliever, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen).

Activity Restrictions

You can generally get back to work and your everyday routine after one or three days after surgery, but you should avoid doing any exercising or strenuous activity until a week after your procedure.

Other restrictions your doctor may advise you to follow at least the first month after surgery or longer include:

  • Avoid driving at night 
  • If you play avoid any contact sports, like football, for a minimum of four weeks and then wear protective sports goggles for a month after that
  • Wear safety goggles when doing any risky activities, such as working with power tools

Coping With Recovery

Most patients are happy and satisfied after their LASIK surgery. In fact, the vast majority of women achieve at least 20/40 vision (without glasses or contact lenses). And, more than 90% achieve 20/20 uncorrected vision.

During the six-month recovery period, some patients however patients report new optical symptoms such as double images, glare, halos, and/or starbursts or dry eyes.

If this happens to you, you should talk with your eye doctor. They may be able to provide you with the solutions and reassure you that the symptom will resolve over time and give you a treatment to ease the symptom.

Some people have to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses after LASIK surgery because they may experience temporary blurry vision or they might have a mild, residual refractive error after surgery.

While eyeglasses are fine to wear immediately after surgery, your doctor will advise you to wait two to three months to wear contact lenses so that you have adequate time for eye healing.

If you need contact lenses your eye doctor is going to recommend gas permeable lenses, instead of soft ones. Gas permeable contact lenses are rigid and can maintain their shape on the front surface of the eye which has been altered after surgery.

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