For LASIK post care, follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions to ensure proper healing and recovery.
LASIK is a quick outpatient procedure. The recovery period is roughly 24 hours, and patients can often return to normal activities the next day. Complete healing of the cornea could take several months.
LASIK’s Timeline for Recovery: What to Do & What Not to Do
The First 6 Hours
- Expect some itching or burning after the anesthesia wears off after surgery. This is completely normal. Your doctor will give you instructions on what kind of pain relievers to take and at what dosages. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Rest your eyes for at least two to four hours when you get home from surgery. Take a nap to prevent your eyes from blinking. Avoid bright or harsh lights.
- Do not rub your eyes, even though you may feel an irresistible urge to do so. You could damage or dislodge the flap created during the surgery. If this happens, you may need another surgery or further treatment. Resist this urge, and don’t touch or rub your eyes.
The First 24 Hours
- Avoid any eye strain, including reading. Avoid screen time, including watching TV, using a computer, playing video games, using smartphones, or engaging in any other strenuous visual activity.
- Wear eye shields to bed at night. These prevent you from scratching or rubbing your eyes in your sleep.
1 to 2 Weeks Post Surgery
- It is common to return to work and even drive the day after your surgery. In the weeks following surgery, you’ll be able to start light exercise, non-contact sports, and other forms of physical activity. Continue to avoid full-contact sports.
- Continue to wear sunglasses to protect against ultraviolet light.
- Continue to use your medicated eye drops to minimize dry eyes. Your eye doctor or clinic will advise you on how long to use these drops and on what dosing schedule.
- Do not use makeup, lotion and creams around your eyes to avoid infections for at least two weeks or as long as your doctor advises.
- Avoid swimming, saunas, whirlpools, lakes and the ocean.
- Keep soap and shampoo out of your eyes when showering or bathing.
- Avoid dust, smoke, sawdust and chemicals. If you have to use power tools or equipment, always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
- Don’t put pressure on your eyes for at least four days after surgery or longer if your doctor advises.
1 Month Post Surgery
- One month after surgery you can resume sports or physically intensive activities, such as football and contact sports. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before you resume these activities.
- Wear protective sports goggles when returning to physical activities.
3 to 6 Months Post Surgery
- Schedule and attend all follow-up appointments with your doctor, no matter how good you feel. It is important that you continue to follow your recovery plan until the end of the recovery timeline.
- It can take several months to completely heal. Your vision may be erratic and fluctuate during this period. It might not stabilize for up to six months after surgery, but you can expect progressive improvements along the way.
General Aftercare Tips Following LASIK Surgery
Ultimately, you’ll want to treat your eyes with care to promote the best healing process.
- Keep water and products away from your eyes as they heal.
- Avoid swimming.
- Keep makeup and creams away from your eyes.
- Do not strain your eyes following surgery.
- Use the eye shields that your doctor gave you.
- Wear sunglasses during the day.
- Do not wear contact lenses after your surgery. It is common to use eyeglasses instead of contact lenses for at least a few months after surgery.
- Use your eye drops as prescribed. After the initial checkup and eye test, you may be given more or different types of eye drops or artificial tears. They are intended to reduce the risk of infection, lubricate the eyes, and keep inflammation down.
- See your doctor for post-op visits. There is no “standard time” to follow up with your doctor for a post-op follow-up, but it’s common for doctors to see their patients the day after surgery.
- Schedule regular appointments for at least six months after your surgery.
What to Expect After LASIK
You may feel some discomfort, scratchiness, itchiness, or burning in your eyes right after the procedure. Your doctor may suggest that you take a mild pain reliever if you experience any pain or discomfort.
You may experience the following after the procedure:
- Hazy or blurry vision
- Teary or watery eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Glares, starbursts, or halos around lights
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Itchy or burning eyes
- Some discomfort
These are temporary symptoms and should improve within a few days following your surgery. With clearance from your doctor, it is common to return to work and even drive the day after your surgery.
The most common reported condition after surgery is dry eyes. Most patients reported some degree of dryness during the immediate postoperative period. However, this is temporary and can be easily treated by taking a nap or resting when you return home after surgery.
Is LASIK Painful?
There is very little eye pain after LASIK surgery. The recovery period is quick in uncomplicated cases, with superficial healing of the wound taking only days or a few weeks to heal.
Depending on the patient, the immediate recovery period is typically 6 to 12 hours. The first 24 hours are critical for recovery. You should monitor your symptoms closely and give your eyes plenty of rest.
When to Contact Your Doctor Immediately
If you experience a high level of pain, your symptoms get worse instead of better, or your foggy vision persists, contact your doctor right away.
If you develop any unusual or new symptoms at any point after your surgery, you should contact your doctor immediately. If you fall and hit your head, especially if you hit your eyes or get poked in your eyes, you should call your doctor immediately.
LASIK Post-Care FAQs
How much rest do I need following LASIK?
You’ll need to rest your eyes on the day of surgery. Most doctors recommend taking a nap for a few hours to prevent blinking. You’ll also need to limit eye strain and treat your eyes with care in the days following surgery.
Will my vision be clear after surgery?
Your vision may be cloudy directly following surgery. It may continue to fluctuate for several weeks or months, but most people can see clearly within a few days to weeks. Follow your doctor’s recovery guidelines to promote fast healing.
How long will it take to completely heal?
Most healing takes place within four to six weeks, but your vision may continue to stabilize for up to six months after surgery.
What are common LASIK side effects?
You may see glares, starbursts, and haloes, and experience dry eyes, for several weeks after surgery.
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Aggressive Treatment of Post-LASIK Dry Eye. (July 2006). Ophthalmology Management.
Is Eye Pain Common Post LASIK Surgery? How Long Does the Cornea Take to Heal After LASIK? (January 2012). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
LASIK — Laser Eye Surgery. (October 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
Laser Surgery Recovery. (January 2017). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
What to Expect With LASIK Recovery. (October 2021). The Refractive Surgery Council.
Last Updated April 6, 2022
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