LASIK Eye Surgery Recovery: what to Expect

If you’re scheduled for LASIK surgery, you’re probably brimming with questions about what you can expect during your recovery. Here’s what you need to know about what you'll experience in the days and weeks following surgery.

As with many other surgeries, rest is important following LASIK surgery. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends going home after your surgery to relax or take a nap. To protect your eye during the early stages of healing, your ophthalmologist may place a clear shield over your eye before sending you home, or ask you to wear the shield while sleeping for a few days. You’ll probably want to take a few days off from work as well.

Most people don't experience much pain after LASIK surgery, but it’s completely normal to experience a burning or scratchy feeling in your eyes for the first few hours following your surgery. You may also notice that your vision changes throughout the day. In fact, dry eyes and vision changes are common over the first month or so following surgery, but this may last longer for some people. You may feel the urge to rub your eyes after surgery, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against this, saying it could result in a need for further treatment.

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Other side effects you may experience after LASIK eye surgery include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Difficulty with night vision, including trouble driving at night
  • Red or pink patches on the white of your eye
  • Glare and halos surrounding lights

It can take up to six months for your vision to stabilize after LASIK surgery. Most of the time these side effects are temporary, but they can be permanent in rare cases. There’s also a risk of more rare complications, including worse vision than you had before LASIK, and eye infection. It’s important to let your doctor know right away if you experience severe pain or worsening of symptoms.

After eye surgery, follow-up visits with your eye doctor are important. You’ll need to see your ophthalmologist within the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. During this visit, your doctor will examine your eye, test your vision, and may send you home with eye drops that help prevent inflammation or infection. You should expect that your ophthalmologist will want to see you regularly to check how your eyes are doing for at least the first six months after surgery. Your cornea should be healed within a few months.

As for getting back into the activities you love? The timing here will depend on the activity. Experts recommend abstaining from non-contact sports for the first one to three days after your surgery. The exact time frame will depend on how you’re feeling and your doctor’s advice. You’ll need to avoid contact sports for at least the first month after surgery, and doctors recommend against swimming and hot tub use for at least one to two months.

To avoid infection, your doctor may recommend that you don’t use cream, lotion, or make-up around your eye for at least two weeks after your LASIK surgery.

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