If you are considering LASIK surgery, you may not be aware that this FDA-approved procedure has been in use for more than 25 years. More than 20 million people throughout the world have already undergone this procedure. While there are potential risks in any medical procedure, these millions of cases have helped established LASIK as a safe choice for those seeking to improve their ability to see clearly without a need for glasses or contact lenses.
While you can expect to experience some improvements in vision almost immediately after the procedure, your journey to better eyesight will continue for some time. It is important to be well informed regarding the recovery process.
While you should not expect serious discomfort, some mild pain is to be expected. The entire healing process can take three to six months, and along the way there are some do’s and don’ts. The good news is that you should experience visual improvement within hours, and things will only get better as time passes.
Immediately After Surgery
You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and when you return home you should take a long nap (two to four hours). When you awaken, you may feel no discomfort at all. However, for the first few hours it is a normal occurrence for clients to experience the following to some minor degree:
- Sensitivity to light
- A burning sensation
- Teary eyes
The extent to which you might experience these things cannot be predicted in advance, but they are not likely to be a significant level of discomfort. Your ophthalmologist can offer you additional insights regarding the range of responses to LASIK treatment based on his real-world experience with numerous cases.
The Days Following Surgery
As your eyes continue to heal, you may experience other phenomena. Again, these will vary in extent from person to person:
- Redness or dark red spots on the eyes This is a normal reaction to LASIK surgery. It is comparable to bruising on another part of the body and can last for several days before it disappears.
- Dry eye About half of LASIK clients experience eye dryness after their surgery, which can last for a few days. You will be provided with “artificial teardrops” to reduce the discomfort resulting from dryness. You will also receive a prescription for eyedrops for use in preventing infection or inflammation. You should never use any eyedrop that was not prescribed or provided by our LASIK surgeon.
- Altered visionWhile you can expect your overall clarity of vision to be noticeably improved after your procedure, it is possible your vision could at times seem hazy or blurry during the first week or two after your surgery. This is related to the extent of the correction that your surgery was intended to achieve.
- Fluctuating visionAfter your LASIK surgery, you may experience fluctuating vision. This could include glare, “haloes” or difficulty seeing when driving after sunset. All of this varies according to your specific situation, and your surgeon will tell you what to expect. Your corneas continue to stabilize throughout the healing process and this process can take some time. Fluctuations could continue for days, weeks or in some cases, months and still be within what the range of what is considered totally normal. You can retain your comfort and certainty regarding the healing process by letting your doctor know exactly what you are experiencing and getting all your questions answered in your consultation prior to surgery.
You will have a follow-up appointment the day after your LASIK surgery, for a vision check and to ensure that your corneas are healing as they should. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described this is an excellent opportunity to ask about them. You will have additional appointments during the healing period at intervals determined our LASIK surgeon. We carefully monitor the progress of our clients after the LASIK surgery.
You will need to wear sunglasses if you go outdoors during the day. For the first four or five nights, you should wear eye shields during sleep, and for longer if pets or children share your bed.
Things Not to Do Following Your LASIK Procedure
There are several things you should not do during the period that your eyes are healing.
- Do not rub your eyes. This can cause the corneal flap to dislodge.
- During the first week after your procedure, there several things you should avoid: eye makeup, smoke, garden or yardwork, and exposure to dust. You can bathe as usual but keep soap and water out of your eyes.
- During the first two weeks after your surgery, some activities are restricted. You should not swim or submerge your head in water. Avoid hot tubs. If you use a computer for an extended period of time, this has the potential to exacerbate the discomfort from dry eye. You may want to take regular breaks, and apply your artificial teardrops as needed. You can exercise, but if your preferred exercise involves things such as balls or racquets, you need to wear protective eyewear.
George Waring IV MD FACS
735 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Ste 101
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
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