You’ve decided that LASIK surgery was the best path to correct your vision. But what can you expect directly after the surgery is over? How long is the LASIK recovery time?
On your day of surgery, you’ll need to make sure that someone is there to drive you home (this is required). The doctor will also request that you wear sunglasses on the way. Before the surgery, your doctor placed anesthetic drops in your eye; when they wear off, you may feel a slight pain, burning or discomfort. Your doctor will most likely recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever if this happens.
Your eye may tear or water during these first hours; this is natural. Many patients go home and take a nap after surgery. You will be given some protective shields to wear during your nap and at night. This keeps foreign objects out and prevents you from rubbing your eyes unintentionally.
How Long is LASIK Recovery?
You’re probably excited to learn how well you can see after taking the eye shield off. But don’t be disappointed if:
- Your vision is hazy at first
- You see halos around lights
- Your eyes are bloodshot
- You are sensitive to light
These symptoms are natural responses to eye surgery and healing (especially if you had a prescription requiring a higher level of correction) and should dissipate over the first hours and days of recovery.
Your surgeon will send home antibiotic drops and anti-inflammation drops with you to put in your eyes at specific intervals. In addition, you will need to use non-prescription wetting drops whenever necessary to keep your eye from getting dry or irritated; this should continue for a few weeks after surgery.)
Before your LASIK surgery, you had consultations with a technician, a vision correction counselor and your doctor. After your surgery, the doctor will want to see you in the first 24-48 hours to examine your eyes, test your vision and hear about any concerns you have.
Your “functional vision” should be improved by this point – the vision you need to do everyday tasks like drive or use the computer.
The First Weeks After LASIK Laser Eye Surgery
In the first couple days after surgery, you should be driving, be back at work and back to enjoying most of your regular activities. You can shower or bathe, but must take care to not get soap or water in your eyes for at least a week.
If you do physical work or play sports, wear safety glasses or sports glasses that have polycarbonate lenses due to their high impact-resistance. In general, it’s recommended that you wait one to three days after surgery before you resume low-impact sports, up to two weeks for more vigorous sports, and up to four weeks for contact sports. Swimmers can swim in chlorinated pools seven days after their surgery, but need to wait 30 days before swimming in any natural bodies of water. If you’re an athlete, you’ll need to be careful not to allow sweat to run into your eyes. And above all, stay aware and don’t allow yourself to rub your eyes at all for the first two weeks.
If you wear eye makeup, you should refrain for about a week after surgery. Specks of mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow can get into your eye and increase your risk of irritation or infection. It’s OK to use lotion, moisturizer or foundation, although you want to be extremely careful putting any of it in the areas around your eyes. If you get anything in your eye, don’t rub it! Instead use your wetting drops, in excess if needed, to rinse it out.
Six Months After LASIK Surgery
During this six-month period, you’ve had regular visits and checkups with your eye surgeon to make sure your eyes are continuing to heal and recover correctly. By this time, any lingering visual problems like glare, light sensitivity or halos around lights are typically gone entirely, and you shouldn’t need to use the wetting drops like you did in the first weeks after your surgery.
At your six-month checkup, if vision problems remain, your surgeon may recommend a follow-up procedure. He or she will want to be sure that your vision has completely stabilized for two consecutive visits at least three months apart before any further work is considered.