LASIK Eye Surgery Recovery Tips
Hearing the word surgery, especially in relation to your eyes, can be scary. Considering how critical the eyes are for everyday activities, it makes sense people are curious about the side effects associated with LASIK surgery that can affect your recovery.
To help provide more context about the LASIK recovery process, we spoke with Aman Mittal, MD, a clinical assistant professor at the Dean McGee Eye Institute/University of Oklahoma Department of Ophthalmology, to answer common questions many of our patients have. Dr. Mittal specializes in LASIK and laser vision correction, cataracts, and cornea and external disease.
What to Expect After LASIK
“LASIK is a straightforward surgery with an excellent success rate, but it is important to follow postoperative instructions to maintain vision and reduce any chance of complications,” Dr. Mittal says. “Use eye drops as directed, and avoid eye rubbing immediately following your surgery.”
Instinctively, you may feel the need to rub your eye, but doing so can dislodge the flap — a thin layer of tissue folded back to reveal the corneal tissue underneath — created during the surgery (read more about how we perform LASIK surgery). Your eye doctor may place a clear shield over your eye to wear for a few days to protect your eye while the skin heals.
You will have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon the following day to ensure no complications have occured. They may also schedule another follow-up visit a week from your surgery with additional visits at their discretion over the course of several months to monitor your progress.
LASIK Recovery Time
According to Dr. Mittal, patients should expect excellent vision once healed from LASIK surgery, with slight eye dryness and irritation. You may also experience glare, halos, ghosting, and starbursts. These side effects usually resolve in a short amount of time.
“The vision is immediately significantly improved and patients notice improved vision within one day of surgery. The vision continues to change as the ocular surface and cornea heal over the first few days to weeks following surgery,” he says.
LASIK can cause eye sensitivity immediately following surgery, so it’s best to give your eyes a rest. When you do resume your normal activities, remember to blink often to keep your eyes lubricated and prevent them from drying out. As always, follow your eye doctor’s orders with regards to recovery.
In some cases, you may experience a subconjunctival hemorrhage when one or more blood vessels break underneath the conjunctiva (clear surface of your eye) and leak between the eye’s surface and the sclera (outer layer of the eye). This may sound scary, but it is fairly common and harmless. Subconjunctival hemorrhages typically heal on their own in a few weeks.
Is LASIK Painful?
While it may sound painful, LASIK is not a painful surgery. Anesthetic drops help numb your eyes prior to the laser cutting the cornea. You may feel pressure in your eyes, but you should not experience any pain. In some cases, you may also receive a sedative prior to surgery to help further relax you.
Following the surgery, Dr. Mittal says your eyes will be slightly red and feel dry.
“This is due to the effect of LASIK on the corneal nerves which regrow over the first few weeks, aided by the use of artificial tears,” he says.
Can You Wear Contacts After LASIK?
Yes, you can wear contacts after LASIK.
“Patients rarely require contact lenses for distance vision as it is fully corrected with LASIK,” Dr. Mittal says. “Patients will develop loss of near vision with age (presbyopia) around age 40 to 45, regardless of LASIK, and can use multifocal contact lenses or contact lenses for monovision to correct near vision following LASIK. LASIK can also be used to achieve monovision, thereby eliminating the need for contact lenses for near vision as well.”
Can You Get Dry Eye After LASIK?
Yes, dry eye is the most common risk of LASIK but is treatable and usually temporary. Your eyes may also feel gritty. Although dry eye may linger, it usually dissipates within a month or two after surgery. The American Refractive Surgery Council reports up to 30 percent of patients experience dry eye symptoms within the first three months.
“The best way to treat dry eye is to use frequent preservative-free artificial tears before and after LASIK to help the ocular surface to recover,” Dr. Mittal says.
How Long Will My Vision Be Blurry After LASIK?
Do not panic if you have some blurry vision after LASIK. Some patients describe this as fuzzy or hazy vision. This is a normal occurrence and will resolve soon after surgery.
“Visual recovery after LASIK is rapid, and patients generally have significantly improved vision with minimal blurring within one day of the surgery,” Dr. Mittal says.
How Long After LASIK Can I See 20/20?
The success rate for LASIK is high — 90% of patients have vision between 20/20 and 20/40 following surgery.
“Vision generally improves to 20/20 or near 20/20 within the first few days of surgery – often even the same day,” Dr. Mittal says.
What Should You Avoid After LASIK?
In general, avoid any non-contact sports for one to three days following surgery and contact sports for at least four weeks following surgery. These sports can cause eye trauma before your eye has a chance to heal.
You should also avoid using skincare products, including makeup, around your eyes for two weeks. To be safe, do not swim or use hot tubs for the first few months following surgery. Pools contain chlorine that can irritate your eyes, while lakes and rivers contain bacteria that may infect your eyes.
When you are outside, be sure to protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses and a brimmed hat.
LASIK Treatment at the Dean McGee Eye Institute
If you have a refractive error and are interested in 20/20 vision without the need for contacts or glasses, schedule a free LASIK screening at the Stephenson Refractive Surgery Center at the Dean McGee Eye Institute to see if you are a candidate for LASIK. Call us today at 405-271-2500 or click the button below to schedule your free screening.
Visit our LASIK page to learn more about the procedure and view our LASIK provider directory to our surgeons who specialize in LASIK and laser vision correction.
We are ready to help you see glasses free!