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How Long Does It Take to Recover From LASIK? Timeline & Tips

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Recovering after LASIK is a fairly straightforward and speedy process. As long as you follow your doctor’s recommendations, recovery is typically quick and easy.

You must protect your eye very carefully within the first few days of surgery. You’ll likely see clearly within about 48 hours, but it can take longer for your tissues to heal completely.

Top 10 LASIK Recovery Tips

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Your doctor will give you detailed recovery instructions. These are steps you can take to ensure that you heal up properly:

1. Don’t touch your eyes.

You may be tempted to push or rub on your eyelids. People often feel like their eyes are dry and gritty as their tissues heal.

Keep your fingers away from your eyes, and if you’re tempted to touch them, put glasses or goggles on. Your doctor may ask you to wear an eye shield while you sleep to ensure you don’t rub your eyes at night. 

2. Use your medications as directed by your doctor. 

Painkillers and eye drops are often part of the recovery plan. Use them as your doctor recommends. Set a timer on your phone to help you remember. 

3. Avoid lotions and makeup. 

Up to 90 percent of used makeup products contain bacteria. Putting beauty products near your eyes could lead to infections, and that could compromise your healing. Don’t use products until your doctor tells you to. 

4. Take baths, not showers. 

Tap water is not sterile. If you take a shower, droplets can splash into your surgical site and allow infections to blossom. Taking a bath gives you more control and could keep you safer. 

5. Steer clear of dust and smoke. 

If you live in an area plagued by wildfires, or you build fires in your home in the winter, that smoke could irritate your healing eyes. Stay in places with clean and fresh air.

6. Rest your eyes. 

Don’t read, embroider, knit, or tackle other forms of close work while your eyes recover. Some blurry vision is common in the days after LASIK, so working on these tasks will be uncomfortable. Straining your eyes can make things worse. 

7. Use sun protection. 

UVA and UVB rays are harmful to your healing tissues, and you might have light sensitivity as you recover. Wear a hat and sunglasses when you go outside. 

8. Rest your body. 

Strenuous activities like running and weightlifting put pressure on your eyes. Contact sports could also result in blows to your eyes. Give your body time to heal. 

9. Keep your appointments. 

Your doctor must check your healing, and you’ll have several scheduled appointments. Don’t skip even one of them.

10. Report anything unusual.

Complications after LASIK surgery are rare. The procedure is very safe and effective. But if you experience pain or severe difficulties with your vision, tell your doctor immediately.

LASIK Recovery Timeline

LASIK Recovery Timeline

The FDA outlines a straightforward timeline for what to expect after LASIK surgery.

24-48 Hours

After your surgery, you may experience itchiness and eye discomfort as the numbing drops used during your LASIK procedure wear off. Don’t try to fix this by rubbing your eyes. 

You may be prescribed medicated eye drops to control your risk of infection and inflammation. You’ll usually use these drops for the first week of your recovery.

Within the initial two days of healing, your doctor will want to see you for a follow-up appointment to check your recovery and ensure your eyes are healing as intended. Before this appointment, avoid unnecessary physical activity.

1-3 Days

Your doctor will tell you when you can resume your normal routine. Until then, limit physical activities to avoid dislodging the flap cut into your eye during surgery. Non-contact sports may be possible during this period, depending on your doctor’s opinions of your recovery and how you feel.

2 Weeks

During the first two weeks of your recovery, your routine can largely return to normal. But you shouldn’t use lotions, creams, and similar cosmetic products around your eyes. 

You must still avoid contact sports and water-related activities, such as swimming.

If you’re experiencing dry eye, a common symptom during recovery from LASIK, you can still use artificial tears to help control your discomfort.

1 Month

By one month, most of your remaining limitations will end. While you should wait for permission from your doctor, most people can begin participating in contact sports and water-related activities at this time.

3-6 Months

It takes about three to six months for a person’s vision to fully stabilize after LASIK. Your doctor can help you decide if further corrective measures might be needed.

This is also when almost all eye and visual symptoms should begin to fade. If they don’t, they may result from long-term complications that you will need to discuss with your doctor.

12 Months

Some eye health symptoms may persist for up to 12 months, although experiencing temporary symptoms for this time is incredibly rare.

When to Call a Doctor

The eye is a sensitive organ. You must call your doctor immediately if you suspect a problem.

During your recovery, some temporary symptoms are common, including these:

  • Mild itchiness
  • Mild burning
  • Dry eye
  • Visual artifacts, such as halos, around light
  • Mild light sensitivity

Serious pain or discomfort is not a normal symptom of LASIK recovery. Also, major visual symptoms that make seeing very difficult are not normal.

If you experience symptoms that seem to dramatically impact your quality of life and ability to function, contact a doctor immediately.

Team of happy female soccer players celebrating their achievement on a playing field at sunset.
When playing contact sports you run the risk of a blow to the eye, and a blow like that could disrupt the flap healing process. Even special goggles may not offer enough protection. Choosing other sports could help you to protect your eyes effectively.

LASIK Recovery FAQs

Is LASIK recovery painful?

Significant pain is not a normal part of LASIK recovery, but mild discomfort is possible, especially during the first few days of recovery. Most people can resume their normal routine within a few days of their surgery if they follow the guidelines outlined by their doctors.

What can’t you do after getting LASIK surgery?

You cannot play contact sports or engage in other intense physical activities for the first few weeks of recovery after getting LASIK. You also cannot swim, use hot tubs, or participate in similar water-based activities.

Within about a month of getting LASIK, most people can return to all normal activities, including swimming and vigorous physical exercise.

LASIK doesn’t permanently bar you from almost anything, although it may make you ineligible for certain eye procedures if your doctor worries your surgery has thinned your cornea too much or otherwise affected the structural integrity of your eye.

Is recovery from LASIK painful?

Most people don’t experience any pain in their recovery process. Some people may experience mild discomfort, such as eye dryness or itchiness.

Will I see clearly immediately following LASIK?

While your vision will improve immediately following LASIK, some blurriness is expected. This will likely continue to clear in the coming weeks.

Overall, it takes about three to six months for your vision to fully stabilize after the surgery. At that point, your visual acuity will be at its final level.


  1. Microbiological Study of Used Cosmetic Products: Highlighting Possible Impact on Consumer Health. (February 2020). Journal of Applied Microbiology.
  2. Preventing Waterborne Germs at Home. (February 2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  4. New Drugs Best Weapons Against Changing Patterns of Post-LASIK Infections. (September 2002). Healio.
  5. Post-LASIK Dry Eye. (August 2012). Expert Review of Ophthalmology.
  6. LASIK vs. PRK: Which Laser Eye Surgery Is Right for You? (January 2023). Forbes.

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