Recovery After LASIK Eye Surgery?
Doctor Answers 4
Downtime after LASIK
The majority of patients who have LASIK on a Friday are driving the next day and back to work on Monday. The only restrictions are to be a little extra careful with exceptional exercise(basketball, marathons, swimming,etc) for about a week or so. Your surgeon should give you a very thorough instruction list of "do's and don'ts" for the first one to two weeks.
LASIK patients are a very active group, so we don't hold you down very long. Air travel if fine after about two days, though sometimes the eyes can feel dry on the airplane, so we give extra tear drops to our travelers. I had PRK performed on myself in 1994. It was done on a late Thursday afternoon. I flew in an airplane on Friday and operated all day on Monday! So, I fit the profile of a very active Laser Vision Correction patient!
WOW effect after LASIK
The initial healing after LASIK is so fast that it has been termed the "wow" effect because so many patients say "wow I can see already."
This is from the fact that the flap only needs to heal at the edges, and the central vision part of the cornea is not disturbed. Although the initial healing is fast, so that most patients achieve close to 20/20 vision in less than 24 hours, sometimes it can take longer for the vision to stabilize. In addition, the vision can continue to change slightly throughout the healing process for several months.
Mechanically the flap is not really healed this quickly, and one needs to be careful to avoid eye trauma, especially during the first few weeks.
Recovery after LASIK surgery
I typically tell patients they will see well enough to drive and go back to work the very next day. Hard to believe, but true. Of course, there are rare exceptions, more common with extremely severe preop prescriptions. If your job entails exposure to chemicals, or very dusty and dirty places, I recommend taking a day or two off.
I tell patients to avoid swimming for two weeks, and to avoid rubbing the eyes for a month.
Vision can vary for a few weeks to a few months as the cornea heals, but typically these variations are mild and patients have no trouble performing their usual activities without glasses and contacts.
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For LASIK surgery (creating a flap) you can typically expect several hours of slightly blurred vision immediately after the surgery. This can be accompanied by some minor stinging or tearing.
By the next morning most people are seeing very well and have little discomfort. Night time glare can be an issue for days to weeks but typically resolves quickly. Mild dry eye is also typically encountered for a couple months after the procedure.
If the surface treatment is used (no flap), the recovery is a little longer. Many surgeons will use a bandage contact lens for several days to allow the cornea to heal properly. Significantly more itch and burn is encountered. Discomfort is usually transient and last less than a week. Steroid eye drops are used for multiple weeks and full visual recovery will be slower.