LASIK Recovery Time: What to expect after LASIK?

When preparing for laser eye surgery like LASIK it is normal to have questions, particularly about LASIK recovery and LASIK recovery time. Some of the most frequently asked questions LASIK patients ask about what to expect include:

Will my eyes hurt after my LASIK eye surgery?

What is the LASIK complication rate? What are LASIK side effects?

Is LASIK safe?

Am I a good LASIK candidate?
Let’s explore how long LASIK recovery takes and discuss the average LASIK recovery time.

How long is LASIK recovery time?

For most people, LASIK recovery time is very fast and patients resume most normal activities within a day or two. The actual healing period takes a little while longer, typically lasting 3-6 months during which time you should expect your vision to gradually improve.

When you have LASIK eye surgery, you are very focused on one thing: seeing better. The good news is that happens almost immediately for the vast majority of LASIK patients. They sit up from having the procedure seeing the world in a whole new way. At that moment, vision might be a bit blurry and there’s also the effect of the anti-anxiety medication to contend with, but most patients see better than they ever have before.

It is an incredible feeling and very exciting, however, it’s important for LASIK patients to understand, as with any surgery, there will be a recovery phase and healing period after you have your procedure. Knowing what to expect after your procedure can be helpful, so here are a few guidelines about what you might experience expect in the days, weeks, and months after your surgery – and what you can do to help take care of your eyes as they heal:

What to expect during your LASIK Recovery

LASIK Recovery: The First 24 Hours

Here is what to expect from LASIK recovery 24 hours after the procedure. These are 5 important tips to know so you are prepared for your LASIK recovery.

  1. After the topical anesthesia wears off, you will likely have some discomfort after surgery. An itching or burning sensation is normal and your doctor will have given you instructions about what and how much pain reliever to take.
  2. When you get home, rest your eyes for 2-4 hours and avoid any strenuous activity. You can return to your normal routine the next day. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses if you’re outside during the day and eye shields in bed at night.
  3. Right after the procedure, your vision will be foggy as if you opened your eyes underwater. You should be able to see much better within hours of the procedure but you may have some temporary side effects as you go through the healing process. The most common is dryness, and your doctor will likely have provided you with lubricating eye drops. Make sure to use them as instructed to keep your eyes moist.
  4. Other potential symptoms you may experience after surgery include halos around your eyes at night, tearing eyes, puffy eyelids, and sensitivity to light. These should all diminish within a week.
  5. If you experience severe pain at any time, contact your doctor immediately.

LASIK: The First Month After Your Surgery

Here is what to expect from LASIK recovery in the first month after the procedure. These are 6 important tips to keep in mind that will help you be prepared for LASIK recovery.

  1. Your doctor will want to see you a day or two after your surgery to test your vision and examine your eyes to make sure your LASIK recovery is going well.
  2. It’s very important that you do not rub or touch your eyes for a week. Your eyes will be sensitive and you don’t want to disturb the healing corneal flap.
  3. You should be able to shower the day after your surgery, just be sure to keep soap and any chemicals out of your eyes.
  4. Avoid any water that could be contaminated. This includes hot tubs, swimming pools lakes, rivers, and the ocean, for at least a week. Don’t wear eye makeup such as liner or mascara, use application brushes, or apply eye creams for at least a week. This is to help prevent infections.
  5. You can start exercising after the first week of LASIK recovery. If you lift weights, use machines for the first week before returning to free weights. Wear goggles for swimming laps in the pool.
  6. Stay away from contact sports, such as football for a week, and wear sports goggles after that for a month – you don’t want to risk getting poked in the eye.

3-to-6 Months After LASIK

3-6 months after LASIK recovery most patients experience less side effects. The following two tips will help you be prepared for your LASIK recovery.

  1. If you have severe myopia (nearsightedness), your eyes may take longer to heal. Your doctor should have provided you with your LASIK recovery plan, which may include wearing glasses for a short period of time as your eyes heal.
  2. Your eyes will still be healing during this time. Attend all your follow-up visits with your eye doctor so she can continue to monitor your vision and eye health.

Importantly, working with your LASIK surgeon and their team throughout the recovery and healing process is essential to an overall good outcome, so keep him or her updated on how you are doing and ask any questions you may have about your vision. Most patients have a short recovery time after LASIK and are very happy with the results. Having LASIK or any vision correction procedure doesn’t end your relationship with your eye doctor; you will still need to have regular eye exams.

If you are curious how long does LASIK last? It is permanent. But LASIK doesn’t prevent your eyes from changing as you age, so staying on top of your eye health is important. Wearing good quality UV-protective sunglasses is important to everyone’s eye health, as is being mindful about using digital devices to avoid eye strain. While these are important ways you can show your eyes some self-care, making – and keeping – your annual visit with your eye doctor is the best way to keep your eyes and vision healthy for the future.

Published May 19, 2016
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