LASIK surgery has become widely popular because it eliminates the need for contact lenses and eyeglasses to correct visual errors. It is also a relatively simple surgical procedure that takes less than an hour.
The recovery process from LASIK surgery, however, requires great care from the patient. The patient must rest following the surgery as well as the day after while avoiding any potential contaminant for the first few weeks to avoid complications. After a month of recovery the patient can slowly go back to a normal routine.
Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis or LASIK is a surgical procedure for treating refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. This procedure eliminates the need for contact lenses and eyeglasses to improve vision.
Before surgery, the individual will attend a consultation where the Doctor will perform a corneal topography to create a 3D map of the patient’s eyes It is important not to wear contact lenses for several weeks before the consultation. This prevents the cornea from altering its original shape and allows the doctor to have an accurate baseline for the procedure.
LASIK surgery involves creating a flap on the cornea using a blade or laser. The surgeon will then reshape the cornea to repair structural imperfections that cause distorted vision. The corneal flap will be placed back for recovery.
Unlike LASIK, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) removes the outer layer of the cornea and reshapes the cornea to correct vision. This procedure is more intensive and healing and recovery are more painful.
Timetable to Recovery
Some of the common side effects of LASIK surgery are sensitivity to light, vision difficulties at night, soreness and discomfort, and dry eyes. These side effects can manifest several hours after the surgery when the effects of the numbing eye drops subside.
After surgery, Patients are told to rest their eyes to facilitate healing. After 48 hours, you’ll return to your Doctor for a consult and eye exam to assess the success of the surgery.
Most people can go back to work a day or two after LASIK surgery. People can still feel residual pain from the surgery for up to four days.
It is not advisable to use chemicals that can potentially reach the eyes such as creams, make-up, and lotion for at least one to two weeks after surgery. The corneal flap is still in the process of healing and recovery during this period, so the risk of infection is still high.
It is possible to drive, work, and perform light exercise two weeks after surgery. However, it is still best to wear sunglasses equipped with UV protection since the eyes are still sensitive to bright light.
Post-surgery effects can begin to normalize after a month or two. During this period, contact sports and swimming are generally allowed. However, the person must follow safety precautions to avoid trauma from injuries to the eyes or from bacteria causing an infection.
Three to six months after surgery marks the return to normal vision; There are little to no visual disturbances during this period. However, people who suffered from severe cases of refractive errors in vision like severe myopia will require a longer recovery period.
Things to Avoid After LASIK
Immediately after LASIK surgery, the patient will not be able to drive home. It is important to schedule a ride home after surgery. Doctors also do not advise reading or using digital screens immediately after LASIK surgery because it can cause eye strain that can hinder recovery.
Some of the things that should also be avoided post-LASIK surgery are smoking, wearing make-up, and dusty areas. These things can potentially cause eye irritation due to the entry of foreign and toxic materials on the healing flap of the cornea.
Getting water directly into the eyes can also introduce harmful microbes that can cause eye infection. As such, it is not advised to shower immediately after LASIK surgery. Similarly, hot tubs and swimming in bodies of water are also discouraged for several weeks after LASIK.
Since the eyes are more sensitive after LASIK surgery, simply rubbing the eyes to alleviate itchiness can cause irritation due to the removal of the corneal flap. Doctors recommend special goggles or shields to prevent any complications from rubbing the eyes, especially when the patient is asleep.
Things to Do to Facilitate Recovery
The effects of the numbing eye drops will begin to subside 2-3 hours after LASIK surgery. This is when the side effects of LASIK begin to manifest. It is advisable to take a nap after surgery to keep the eyes closed and jumpstart the healing process.
The patient should take the following day – post-LASIK surgery – to rest. Resuming any activity for work and chores could potentially overexert the eyes and delay the recovery process.
Quick follow-up sessions with the doctor within 24-48 hours after surgery will ensure the proper track for recovery. This will also ensure that the corneal flap is in its proper place and is healing properly.
Wearing glasses or a hat with a wide brim can help protect the eyes from bright light; These lights can potentially strain the eyes. It can also help in shielding the eyes against dust and particles that can potentially irritate a healing corneal flap.
Dry eyes are also a common occurrence within months after undergoing LASIK surgery. Doctors can recommend liquid tears or eye drops with no preservatives to relieve dry eyes.
LASIK surgery is a simple surgical procedure for fixing the refractive errors in the eyes. While it eliminates the need for contact lenses and glasses for facilitating good vision, it requires months of recovery to fully heal. Patients should always take safety precautions, especially from the first day of recovery, to prevent complications that can delay or halt the recovery process.