People have many questions about when they can return to their regular activities after getting LASIK. Some activities can be resumed right away, while others should be put off for a few weeks. (Learn More)

You may have the urge to rub your eyes after getting LASIK, but it’s important to avoid it. Rubbing the eyes too soon can cause damage to eyes that were recently operated on. (Learn More)

After getting LASIK, follow your doctor’s recovery instructions. You will be able to do a lot within the first few days following surgery. For everything else, be patient until your eyes have healed sufficiently. (Learn More)

What to Expect Following LASIK

Immediately after surgery, it is normal to feel some discomfort in your eyes. Mild pain can usually be addressed with a moderate pain reliever, though you should always follow your doctor’s instructions for pain management.

You can expect these additional symptoms after getting LASIK:

  • Tearing or watering in both eyes
  • Hazy or blurry vision
  • An urge to rub your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing glare, starbursts, or haloes
  • Red or bloodshot eyes

You can expect the above symptoms to clear significantly within the first few days following surgery. It is best to take a day or two off from work until symptoms go away. If you experience severe pain or worsening of your vision or symptoms during this time, call your doctor right away as they could be signs of more serious complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you recover from LASIK, you probably want to know how soon you can get back to your regular routine. The exact recovery timeline varies from person to person, but below are rough timelines for when you can do common activities again.

  • When can I shower or wash my face? It is usually acceptable to shower the day after your surgery, just make sure to keep all soap and chemicals out of the eyes.
  • Do I have to wear sunglasses after surgery? It is a good idea to wear sunglasses for at least a week following surgery in order to protect your eyes from UV rays and bright sunlight.
  • Will crying hurt your eyes after LASIK? It’s okay to cry after surgery. Your natural tears won’t harm the incision made in the cornea and will actually help the eyes stay lubricated.
  • Can I sleep? Yes, you can sleep, and it’s highly recommended. Your doctor will likely recommend the use of eye shields at night to protect your eyes while you sleep.
  • Can I work the day after surgery? Many people return to work the day after LASIK. But if you are able, it’s ideal to give your eyes a day to rest and recover the day after surgery.
  • Can I wear mascara? Doctors recommend waiting one to two weeks after surgery until you apply makeup, cream, or lotion around the eye in order to avoid infection.
  • Can I wear contacts? Even if your vision is blurry, you should not put contacts in your eyes right after surgery. The eye needs time to heal, free of any objects on the cornea, and you will likely need an updated lens prescription anyway.
  • Can I play sports? The FDA recommends waiting at least one to three days before beginning any non-contact sports again. Contact sports, such as boxing or football, should be avoided for at least four weeks after surgery.
  • Can I go swimming? In order to protect your eyes against infection, it is best to wait one to two months until you go swimming or in a hot tub again.

Rubbing Your Eyes After LASIK

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) explains that you may have the urge to rub your eye following LASIK, but it is imperative that you don’t. Rubbing your eye runs the risk of dislodging the flap that was made in your cornea.

Typically, no stitches are needed as the cornea will heal on its own. That makes it even more important to not risk moving the flap while it is trying to heal. Avoid rubbing or touching your eye for at least a week.

While a significant amount of healing will occur in the first days and weeks after surgery, it can take up to three to six months for your vision to stabilize entirely. If you avoid rubbing your eyes and protect them from anything that could get in or injure them, you are giving your eyes the best shot at a speedy and total recovery.

What to Do After LASIK

The majority of people who receive LASIK are able to see better as soon as the surgery is over, explains the American Refractive Surgery Council. Remember that every surgery requires a recovery period. Even if your vision is already better, you need to take precautions to allow your eyes to heal properly.

Most people are able to return to their daily activities within just one to two days. Vision will continue to improve over the next few months as your eyes heal further.

It doesn’t take long to return to your normal routine after LASIK, but it is important to avoid certain activities until your eyes are ready for them.

References

Beyond Seeing Clearly: What to Expect with LASIK Recovery. (May 2016). American Refractive Surgery Council.

LASIK. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? U.S. Food & Drug Administration.