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LASIK Post-Operative Care

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Your LASIK surgery is over in minutes. But the steps you take in the days that follow ensure quick healing and an excellent result that lasts a lifetime. 

Your surgeon and surgical care team will create a customized postoperative care plan. Follow-up appointments, eye drops, and eye shields are part of the plan for most people.

Understanding LASIK Aftercare

Your post-op plan involves taking care of your eyes as they heal, so you get the results you hoped for. 

women engaging in post procedure talk

During LASIK, doctors use a specialized laser to create a small flap in the outer layer of the cornea in order to access and ablate the tissue underneath with a second laser, altering the shape of the cornea to correct refractive errors impacting vision. The flap will reseal itself in a matter of days without the need for stitches or additional medical intervention. Your aftercare is critical.

Your recovery plan will likely include these components:

  • Protection: During the healing process, it is important to avoid rubbing your eyes or doing anything that might lead to infection in the wound or dislodging the flap. An eye shield makes protection easy.
  • Medications: A post-LASIK care plan will often include eye drops to help with dry eye and keep your eyes moist. You may also be prescribed a painkiller to address discomfort that can occur for the first day or two. 
  • Checkups: You will need to see your doctor 24 to 48 hours after LASIK surgery, so they can check on your healing and vision. They will also assess if any alterations to the care plan are needed. Follow-up appointments should be continued for at least six months after surgery to ensure that recovery is going as expected.

Taking care of your eyes and following the post-LASIK care plan after surgery can expedite the healing timeline, improve your satisfaction with the procedure, and minimize potential complications.

Post-Op Timeline: What to Expect After LASIK

Happy Woman Enjoying Nature on grass meadow on top of mountain cliff with sunrise

LASIK is an outpatient surgery, so you’ll head home the same day. In general, you’ll be back to everyday activities within a day or two. But your full recovery might take a little longer.

It’s critical to protect your eyes at each stage of healing. Bumping, scratching, or digging your eyes could dislodge the flap created in LASIK and lead to complications. It’s also crucial to follow all of your doctor’s instructions involving eye drops and medications.

With your care, you’ll move through a typical post-op recovery timeline and move forward without complications.

Post-Op TimelineActivities and Instructions
Day of Surgery– Keep your eyes closed and avoid bright lights
– Expect blurry vision that usually clears up the next day
– Expect blurry vision that usually clears up the next day
– Use prescribed eye drops and medications
24 Hours After LASIK– Eyes may remain tender and sore
– Take a few days off work for discomfort to subside
– Avoid reading, watching TV, and screen time
– Wear a protective eye shield, especially at night
– Avoid getting soap or chemicals in your eyes during showers
1-2 Weeks Post LASIK– Continue gentle care and attend follow-up appointments
– Gentle exercise is generally safe, but avoid contact sports
– Avoid makeup, creams, and lotions
– Use recommended eye drops
1 Month After LASIK– Swelling has faded, and vision may be crisp and clear
– Consider wearing goggles during strenuous activities
3-6 Months After LASIK– Vision is likely clear, and discomfort or side effects are minimal
– Continue attending follow-up appointments
– Stick to the recovery plan outlined by your doctor

Day of the LASIK Surgery 

Your eyes are tender, as they’ve just been touched with a laser. It is likely that you will experience some discomfort for the first few hours after surgery. 

Your doctor may prescribe some medication for the pain and possibly eye drops to keep your eyes lubricated and clear from infection.

Keep your eyes closed and avoid bright lights. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) explains that you will likely experience blurry vision the day of your surgery, but this typically clears up the next day.

24 Hours After LASIK

Your eyes are beginning to heal, but they may remain tender and sore. Inflammation is common at this stage. 

The FDA reports that you may want to take a few days off work after LASIK to give yourself a chance for any discomfort and common post-LASIK visual disturbances, such as glares and halos around lights, to subside.

Avoid reading, watching TV, and screen time, including smartphones, video games, and computers, as much as possible. You will likely be given a protective eye shield to wear at least at night to avoid bumping or rubbing your eyes.

You can shower a day after LASIK surgery. Be careful not to get soap or other chemical products in your eyes. Don’t take a bath or use a hot tub until your doctor says it’s safe. 

You will need to attend a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to check on your healing. 

When can you drive?

Once your vision isn’t blurry, it’s safe to drive. Wearing sunglasses may help to reduce glare and halos when you drive. Your doctor can help you know the timeline to expect.

1–2 Weeks Post LASIK 

The flap created by LASIK is starting to heal, but your eyes still need gentle care to ensure they heal properly. Keep your appointments with your doctor at this stage. 

Gentle exercise is typically safe within a week of LASIK, but avoid contact sports and water-based activities, including swimming pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans. If you’re playing sports outside, wear sunglasses for UV light protection. 

Avoid makeup, creams, or lotion. Use your eye drops as recommended. 

1 Month After LASIK 

Your eyes are still healing. Swelling has faded, so your vision may be crisp and clear. But the tissue around your flap is still sensitive and healing. 

At this point, you can typically return to strenuous activities, including sports. Consider wearing goggles during athletic activities to protect your eyes. 

3–6 Months After LASIK 

At this point, your vision is likely clear. Your eyes are still healing, but you may not notice discomfort or side effects. 

Continue to attend all follow-up appointments with your doctor and stick to the recovery plan outlined by your surgical care team.

Significant refractive errors, such as severe myopia (nearsightedness), could potentially take longer to heal, as these surgeries can be more invasive than those correcting milder conditions.

LASIK Post-Op Recovery Tips

After this minimally invasive procedure, your doctor will recommend a recovery protocol that promotes fast healing and better vision results. 

These tips can help shield you from most LASIK surgery risks:

  • Protect your eyes. Wear goggles or a shield for the first 24 hours. Your doctor may recommend continued use for a week or more, depending on your healing rate. 
  • Stay in the shade. Wear sunglasses when you go outside, and sit underneath sun protection. 
  • Don’t drive until it’s safe. Someone should drive you home from surgery and to your first appointment. Your doctor can tell you when it’s safe to drive. 
  • Rest when you need to. Give your body time to heal. Rest the day of your surgery. If you feel rested and comfortable, you can go back to work in a day or two.
  • Use your medications. Place eye drops in your eyes on a schedule recommended by your doctor. Use pain relievers to manage discomfort.
  • Exercise safely. You can return to exercise within a day or two, but wear goggles for contact sports for up to six months.
  • Use screens mindfully. Stay away from computer screens and TV for a day. After that, monitor how your eyes feel and limit your time if you’re tired. 
  • Clean up carefully. Take showers (not baths) for the first day. Keep soap and makeup away from your eyes for two weeks. 
  • Stay away from some types of water. Don’t swim in lakes, streams, or other bodies of water for at least two weeks. Avoid hot tubs too. 
  • Limit irritants. Don’t smoke after surgery. Stay away from dust and fine particles. 
  • Watch your expressions. Don’t squeeze your eyes closed forcefully. 

When to Contact Your Doctor After Surgery

LASIK is a very safe, effective procedure. Follow-up appointments are scheduled by your doctor to ensure you’re healing well. But you should always reach out to your doctor with questions or concerns.

LASIK side effects are common as your eyes heal. Most go away with time. But these symptoms should prompt you to call your doctor:

  • Worsening vision
  • Significant pain
  • Signs of infection (such as fever)

The doctors at NVISION Eye Centers put their patients first. No question is too small, and no concern is unimportant. If you have questions after your surgery, just reach out and talk with us. 

We want every patient to feel comfortable. In addition to comprehensive aftercare instructions, we offer 24 hours a day support to our patients.

LASIK Post-Operative Care Frequently Asked Questions

What are the dont’s after LASIK surgery?

The top things to avoid in the hours after LASIK include rubbing your eyes, skipping your eye drops, canceling your follow-up appointments, and swimming in bodies of water.

When can I drive after LASIK?

Typically, you’re safe to drive when your vision is stable. That can take a day or two.

When can I shower after LASIK?

You can shower the day after surgery. Keep both soap and water out of your eyes.

Why is water avoided after LASIK?

Open bodies of water (like lakes and streams) are filled with bacteria, algae, and animals that are harmful to healing tissue. Even tap water flowing from your sink and shower could be contaminated with germs like cryptosporidium and campylobacter.

Does the flap ever heal after LASIK?

Yes. The flap heals within three months after surgery.

Can I wear contacts after surgery?

Most people can’t wear standard soft contacts after LASIK. The shape of your eye is different and challenging for a close fitting. Rigid contacts can be a better choice, or you might wear glasses instead. 

References

  1. LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project. (September 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  2. Beyond Seeing Clearly: What to Expect With LASIK Recovery. (May 2016). American Refractive Surgery Council.
  3. What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  4. LASIK Eye Surgery. (October 2018). U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. LASIK Surgery: Is It Right for You? (March 2017). Mayo Clinic.
  6. What Is the LASIK Success Rate? (October 2017). American Refractive Surgery Council.

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