LASIK eye surgery recovery

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Last updated 9/30/2019
Laser eye surgery - what to expect, Assil Eye Institute

What to expect after LASIK Surgery

Here at AEI, we believe it is very important to know what to expect after LASIK surgery, and what you can do to care for your eyes after your procedure, which is critically important to having a successful outcome.

 

So, without further ado, here's what you can expect to experience in the moments, days, weeks and months after life changing EAGLE Vision LASIK surgery.

 

WHen you first open your eyes...

 

 

For most of our LASIK patients, when they open their eyes after surgery, they immediately notice improved vision. Many describe the experience like opening your eyes under water and, while everything is not immediately clear, they're amazed at what they are already able to see.

 

Within a few hours, your vision will become a lot clearer and you can usually drive after just 24-hours. Of course, it takes a bit longer for the eye to fully heal following surgery, usually 6 months. And all during this time, you should expect your vision to continue to improve.

 

LASIK eye surgery recovery: the first 24 hours

Immediately following surgery you should notice improved vision, though it will seem a bit foggy (as if you're looking under water).  This should improve within hours. You will have a pre-arranged ride to take you home, since you cannot drive for the first 24 hours. Your eyes will be covered with protective eye shields to protect them from injury and also because your eyes will be sensitive to light right after surgery.

  • You will be sent home with prescription eye drops to prevent infection and manage inflammation. You'll also be instructed to use non-prescription lubricating eye drops whenever necessary to keep your eyes moist.
  • As your anesthesia wears off, you will likely feel some discomfort. Typical sensations during the first four hours after surgery include feeling like there's sand in your eye, burning and itching.
  • Since the most common post-op symptom is dryness, you'll be given lubricating eye drops that you can cool in the fridge for even greater relief. We advise our patients to rest with closed eyes for the first 4 hours after they get home to get through this initial period more comfortably. After 4 hours, you will see and feel much better.
  • Other symptoms you might possibly experience early on include tearing, light sensitivity, puffy eyelids and seeing halos or starbursts around lights at night. Your eyes may be red or bloodshot. These symptoms should all diminish within a week or so. Just in case, you should plan on taking a few days off work until your symptoms improve.
  • We ask you to wear eye shields while lying down for the first week after surgery, because rubbing your eye against pillows or blankets can disturb the healing corneal flap. That's also why we instruct you to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes, no matter what! Cooled eye drops can help relieve irritating symptoms.
  • You will be cleared to shower but it's important that you avoid getting soap, water or any chemicals in your eyes for the first week after surgery in order to avoid bacterial contamination.
  • We ask you to avoid lifting or straining during your first week following surgery.

 

LASIK surgery recovery: the day after

  • On the day after surgery, you'll return to our office for your initial post-op check. This is important so that your surgeon can closely monitor your early healing and make sure that all is going as planned. Your doctor will remove your eye shield and test your vision so that your improvements can be tracked over time. Your second visit will be one week later.
  • At your first postop visit, you should tell your surgeon about your symptoms. We encourage you to ask questions so that we can address any concerns or misunderstanding to help ensure a smooth recovery.
  • Your post-op eye drop regimen and your activity restrictions will be reviewed to clear up any doubts you may have.

 

LASIK recovery: The first few weeks after surgery

  • Because your eyes will be working hard to heal, during the first few days after surgery, we recommend that you avoid reading and focus instead on resting your eyes.
  • We advise our patients to avoid eye makeup, eye creams, any facial products or hair coloring for at least 36 hours after surgery. This is to avoid bacterial contamination.
  • We also ask you to stay out of swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers or oceans for at least a week after surgery. Furthermore, we ask you to avoid gardening and dusty environments. This is to help prevent infections.
  • You are reminded to wear sunglasses whenever outdoors in order to protect your eyes from glare and UV rays (a practice everyone should do). You will also find that you are sensitive to light during this time.
  • After one week, you will no longer need to wear your protective eye shield for sleep and you will be cleared to begin exercising. That said, you'll be asked to avoid contact sports or weightlifting until one-month post-op and to use polycarbonate sports glasses once you return to these activities in order to protect your eyes.
  • We advise computer users to take frequent breaks and to lubricate their eyes with artificial tears because computer use can cause eye dryness.
  • It is not unusual to have fluctuations in your vision as your eye continues healing over the next several weeks. There's no need for alarm, this is normal. Nonetheless, you should inform your surgeon if you have any concerns. And if you have new eye pain or worsening vision, contact our office right away.

 

LASIK recovery: months two to six

  • Because it may take from three to six months for your vision to stabilize after surgery, you will return for follow up visits to check your progress during this period. It's important to keep your follow up appointments so that we can identify and address any issues early.
  • During this stabilization period, you may continue to experience halos, glare, starbursts and other symptoms which may take longer to resolve. For some patients, these symptoms might not resolve entirely.
  • Your eyes won't be completely healed until about six months after surgery.
  • There is a three to five percent chance that a LASIK patient will need re-treatment with LASIK to restore the full benefits of laser surgery.
  • If visual acuity remains unchanged after two eye exams three months apart, re-treatment can be considered. In the event that this is needed, we perform the procedure at no cost to you.

 

Long term eye health after LASIK

  • Even though you have great vision after undergoing LASIK, this doesn't mean that you may not develop other eye health issues. That's why we recommend an annual eye exam to monitor for any conditions that can threaten your vision.
  • The results of LASIK are typically long-term and most people only need one LASIK procedure during their lifetime.
  • Years following your LASIK, as your eyes age, your vision may change due to an age-related process (called presbyopia) that affects your eye muscles and lens (parts of your eye not treated by the laser).
  • This age-related blurry near vision is not a complication of LASIK, nor can LASIK treat this age-related process. Using “readers” to do close up work will help folks with presbyopia,
  • Dr. Kerry Assil, Beverly Hills LASIK and Cataract Surgeon

    Kerry K. Assil, MD, is regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts in refractive surgery, having made significant advances in the field with his numerous inventions. Additionally he has the unique distinction of having trained thousands of eye surgeons in the latest refractive surgical techniques.

     

    Dr. Assil has authored more than one hundred textbooks, textbook chapters and articles on refractive surgery and has appeared regularly on major television network news programs as a pioneer in refractive surgery. He also leads educational forums for other eye care professionals, which have included featured lectureships at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and Tokyo University.

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