Recovery From LASIK Surgery: Healing Timeline & Guide
Barrett Eubanks, M.D. - Ophthalmologist & Refractive Surgeon at NVISION Eye Centers
LASIK surgery is a common, safe, and effective procedure with a fast recovery time. Your vision can improve as quickly as within a few hours after surgery.
You may experience some discomfort, blurry or hazy vision, a burning or scratchy sensation, and light sensitivity directly after the surgery. However, these effects usually subside within a day or two.
You will need to see your surgeon or eye care provider the next day after surgery to check on things. They will give you further care instructions.
Your doctor will prescribe you special eye drops to control inflammation and reduce the risk for infection. If symptoms get worse instead of better or you experience significant pain, call your doctor immediately.
It is important to take care of your eyes, especially for the first week, after LASIK surgery by refraining from strenuous activities, swimming, rubbing or touching your eye, and lotions or creams near the eye. Protect your eyes at night with an eye shield.
Vision will usually stabilize within a few days after the operation. It is important to remember that your eyes are still healing for three to six months.
LASIK surgery typically takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. You should have someone available to drive you home from the procedure.
Directly after LASIK surgery, you may feel like you have something in your eye. It can feel scratchy and may have a burning sensation, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) explains. Mild discomfort and tearing are also common.
You may experience light sensitivity and see glares or halos around lights. You may have blurry or hazy vision for the first few hours to two days after the surgery.
For the first two to four hours after LASIK surgery, try to rest your eyes as much as possible. Take a nap in an effort to keep your eyes closed as much as possible.
Be very careful not to rub or touch your eye, as the flap of your cornea needs time to heal. You will need to take it easy and not do anything too strenuous for the first 24 hours. You can generally return to your regular activities by the next day.
Do not put makeup, face cream, or lotion near your eye for at least the first week. Be careful to keep chemicals from contacting your eye.
You can shower the day after LASIK. Just be sure to keep soap out of your eye, and avoid submerging yourself completely in water for at least a week.
Your surgeon will give you an eye shield to wear over your eye to protect it as you sleep. They will also instruct you to use preservative-free artificial tears to help minimize dry eyes and help your eyes to heal. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers as instructed by your doctor to manage the discomfort.
Surgery Follow-Up With Your Doctor
Within the first 24 to 48 hours, you will need to have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon. Your doctor will check how your eye is healing, examine your eyes, and test your vision.
The doctor will also prescribe you some eye drops to reduce inflammation and lower the risk for infection. Your doctor may also advise you to use artificial tears to keep your eyes from becoming too dry during the healing process.
You will need to continue with regular follow-up visits with your doctor as directed during the first six months after LASIK surgery.
You can return to most normal daily activities within a day or two after your LASIK surgery, depending on how you are feeling and how things are healing. Wait at least a day to take a shower, and try not to read or use electronic devices for the first day or two.
Wait to drive until your symptoms subside enough to see clearly. There are additional things that should be avoided for longer, to give your eyes proper time to heal during recovery.
For the first week avoid:
- Heavy exercise. You can generally return to non-contact sports or light machine weights within three days.
- Eye creams, lotions, and eye makeup. It can be even better to wait two weeks before resuming use of these products.
- Contact lenses.
- Any rubbing or touching of the eye.
- Direct sunlight or bright indoor lights.
For at least a month, stay away from:
- Hot tubs, pools, rivers, lakes, oceans, or any bodies of water that could contain contaminants or chemicals.
- Saunas and steam rooms.
- Contact sports that can cause your eye to be hit, bumped, or get something in it.
LASIK Recovery Timeline
First 24 hours
Within the first day or two, you can experience some discomfort as well as blurry or hazy vision, scratchy eyes, some tearing, and light sensitivity. It is important to rest your eyes as much as possible during this time.
Vision often stabilizes within the first several days after LASIK surgery. You can often return to normal, non-strenuous, and non-contact activities within the first week.
You will need to continue to protect your eye by not rubbing or touching it, and wearing the eye shield to sleep at night. You may continue to have some vision issues and eye sensitivity.
Your eyes should be less sensitive and more stable at this point. You should wear swim goggles when swimming and sports goggles or glasses when participating in contact sports.
Your vision should be more stable; however, your eyes are still healing. Most activities can be resumed one month following the operation.
6 to 12 months
Within this time, your eyes should be completely healed from LASIK surgery, and your doctor will instruct you on follow-up care. Your doctor can ensure that your eyes are healing properly, and the correction is the best it can be. You may still need to wear prescription eyewear for some mild vision issues.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience severe pain or your vision symptoms start to get worse, contact your doctor right away and do not wait for your follow-up appointment. This can indicate a complication that needs to be addressed quickly.
LASIK is a safe procedure with a very low complication rate. It is still important to be aware of any changes in your vision or pain level in the event of a potential issue.
How long will I experience blurry vision?
Blurry and hazy vision can clear up as soon as a few hours after LASIK surgery. It can take a few days to weeks for your vision to completely stabilize, however. It can take up to three to six months for your vision to clear completely.
When can I drive after LASIK?
You can often return to driving within the first day or two after LASIK surgery, but this depends on how your eyes are healing. If you are still experiencing vision symptoms, you should wait until they clear up before driving.
Can I watch TV after LASIK surgery?
It is helpful to avoid electronics and looking at screens for at least the first 24 to 48 hours after LASIK surgery. Reading and watching TV can cause too much strain on your eyes. It can even be helpful to avoid screens for the first week during recovery.
LASIK – Laser Eye Surgery. (October 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
What to Expect With LASIK Recovery. (October 2021). Refractive Surgery Council (RSC).
What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What Is LASIK Eye Surgery? (August 2020). JAMA Network.
Last Updated February 26, 2022
Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.