Screens have invaded nearly every part of our lives. From work to entertainment and social relationships, the majority of human interactions now occur through computers.
Just like everyone else people with eye problems are still likely to use computers after major ophthalmologic surgical procedures such as LASIK surgery.
If you have nearsightedness or farsightedness, LASIK surgery is an effective method of correcting your visual impairment without the need for either contact lenses or glasses. But will LASIK impact your daily routine when it comes to using your computer?
In short, yes. Almost all doctors will recommend that after LASIK, you restricted the amount of time you put your eyes in front of a computer, tablet or phone (for reading).
How Do Computers Affect the Eyes
Normal computer use causes different types of eye discomfort, including dryness, pain and eye strain. People who spend more than 40 hours a week staring into a computer monitor or laptop because of work (or even gaming) is more likely to develop one or more of these symptoms.
When you use a computer, you blink less often than you ought to. As a result, your eye does not get lubricated adequately. Blinking (which usually spreads a thin film of tears from the lacrimal glands over the front part of the eye as a lubrication mechanism).
The outcome is dry eye. In addition, using computers in an air-conditioned office may exacerbate the dryness because of lower humidity in the indoor area.
Eyestrain is the other effect of prolonged computer use. If you work continuously without adequate time to rest, your eyes get repetitive stress.
With computers, glare (from screens that are either too dark or too bright) is a major cause of eyestrain. Non-ergonomic positioning of the computer screen can also lead to ocular muscle exhaustion resulting in eyestrain or pain.
Does Computer Use Affect Healing After LASIK Surgery?
For faster recovery following LASIK, eye professionals recommend you rest your eyes fully, especially in the first 24 hours post-surgery. In this case, rest entails restricted use of digital screens including desktops, televisions, tablets and smartphones.
Eye surgery causes some degree of eye dryness. Lubrication is, therefore, integral in the healing process following LASIK. Computer use during the recovery period is likely to worsen dryness, cause eyestrain and impede regeneration.
Consequently, you should avoid using computers and other similar devices until 24 hours after the surgery. Gradual reintroduction of screens should commence on day two. The key word: gradual. Do your best not to over-use your eyes for the first two weeks after your LASIK procedure.
After two weeks, you can resume regular use of all your hand-held devices and computers without any restrictions.
It’s important to note that everybody’s eyes are different, and people recover from LASIK (as in other surgeries) at different speeds. Your healing time may be longer than someone else’s. And only you will know if you have strained your eyes. But if you have issues following your procedure, it’s possible that your doctor will recommend staying away from screens for a bit longer than two days.
So: Should you stop using computers after LASIK?
In an ideal world, yes. You would take a break from computers until your eye heals completely. However, such an instruction is unrealistic in today’s world of screens.
Given that, we recommend following the tips below while using computers after LASIK surgery.
Computer Use Tips after LASIK
A few days after the surgery, you can safely use computers without compromising the benefits of LASIK or subjecting your eyes to more strain. Here are some tips to help you maintain optimal eye health during this period even as you use computers:
- Regular blinking: Computer use is associated with infrequent blinking which leads to eye dryness and fatigue. Placing a sticky note with a reminder to blink more frequently on your working area can help you prevent eye dryness after LASIK.
- Artificial tears: After LASIK, your doctor will prescribe you artificial tears that you can apply for around 3 months (4). Regular computer users will find this more helpful in reducing eye dryness. So always remember to keep one within reach and use it regularly.
- Eye exercise: Known as the 20-20-20 rule, this exercise allows you to relax your ocular muscles in intervals as you use the computer. After every 20 minutes, you need to look 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds.
- Safe distance: keeping an adequate distance between your eye and the monitor (40-76 cm) is key in reducing fatigue. Tilting the top of the monitor at an angle of 10-20 degrees away from you also provides a better view of the screen thereby minimizing eyestrain.
- Comfortable posture: your general posture while working is likely to affect your visual comfort. It is therefore good to use adjustable furniture that allows you to sit at a proper distance and angle from your computer screen especially after LASIK surgery.
- Adequate sleep: Sleeping is the best way of resting your eyes. Getting enough night sleep helps to rejuvenate your eyes following prolonged computer use. We recommend adequate sleep for patients who undergo LASIK surgery.
Whether you are using traditional computers or tablets, it is essential to follow these guidelines to maintain good eye health after LASIK treatment.