When LASIK surgery was first approved in 1999, it helped more than 90% of patients achieve 20/40 vision. It also helped between 50% and 60% of patients achieve 20/20 visual acuity.
All these improvements have made LASIK even safer. But remember: it’s still a type of surgical procedure. That’s why you would still need to allot time for LASIK recovery.
The good news is, there are ways to prevent extended downtime after LASIK surgery.
Ready to learn what you can do to help keep your LASIK recovery period at a minimum? Then here are the top tips you should follow right after your procedure!
A Quick Reminder of What Happens During LASIK Surgery
During LASIK surgery, an eye surgeon creates a tiny flap in the cornea, the outermost part of the eye. The doctor then uses a laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. That small flap goes back to its original position, where it starts healing itself on its own.
While the entire surgery only takes about 30 minutes (for both eyes), it still involves an incision. It’s still an “invasive” procedure, and this can lead to dry eye, the most common symptom after LASIK.
Studies show that up to 95% of LASIK patients experience dry eye symptoms right after surgery. However, these studies also found that the symptoms go away week after week. Only about half of patients still experience them a month after surgery.
Don’t worry though, as your eye surgeon will give you eye drops to manage the signs of dry eye. Your doctor may also prescribe you pain relievers in case you feel more pain than discomfort.
What’s important is to follow everything in your doctor’s after-surgery instructions. This way, you can reduce your risks of complications and your eyes can heal faster. The quicker your eyes heal, the sooner you can enjoy clearer vision.
Aside from your doctor’s instructions, there are plenty of self-care tips you can also do. We’ve listed the best ones below that can help with your LASIK eye surgery recovery.
After LASIK Recovery Tips: What Do Within the First 24 Hours
The first 24 hours are critical to your LASIK surgery recovery since your wound is still fresh. Allow your eyes to heal without delay by following these tips for the next 24 hours after the procedure.
Take a Nap to Rest Your Eyes
This applies to patients of all types of laser eye surgery, be it traditional or bladeless LASIK or even PRK. Resting your eyes soon after the surgery will help boost its healing and recovery.
That’s why it’s best you keep the entire day of your surgery free of appointments. You should also avoid strenuous activity or exercising for the next 24 hours.
Also, be sure to use the eye drops before you sleep. Use the eyeshields that your eye doctor will include in your post-operative kit when you go to bed. These shields can help keep you from rubbing your eyes as you sleep.
Keep Your Sunglasses On
As much as possible, wear your sunglasses throughout the first 24 hours after the surgery. Keep them on even while you’re indoors, but it’s even more important if you go outside. Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from UV rays, dust, wind, and other pollutants.
Avoid Using Electronics
On average, a person blinks about 15 times per minute, or more than 20,000 times a day. While a blink last for only about one-tenth of a second, that’s enough time to lubricate the eyes.
The use of computers, however, can reduce this blink rate by up to 66%. When a person blinks less, the eyes can’t work up enough tears to keep itself moist. Reduced blinking also heightens the risk of irritants getting into the eyes.
Since LASIK can already result in dry eye, the last thing you want is to blink less. Reduced blinking can further complicate or worsen dry eye symptoms.
That said, do your best to avoid using computers and smartphones in the first 24 hours after the surgery. You should also keep away from the TV and avoid reading within this time frame.
Remember: your eyes will become more sensitive after the LASIK procedure. Doing all these will help prevent eye strain and fatigue.
Recovery Techniques Within the First Week After LASIK
Here’s what you can do to protect your eyes the day after and within the first week following your LASIK surgery.
Eye Hygiene and Showering
You can use a soft, damp sponge or facecloth to clean your eyes the day after your surgery. Use very little pressure as you move the sponge or cloth in a downward motion.
You can take a shower the next day, but avoid spreading facial wash or chemicals over your eyes. If you can, shower only from the neck down.
Visit Your Eye Surgeon the Day After the Surgery
If you opted for bladeless LASIK, such as iLASIK surgery, your eyes will be ready the next day for a follow-up exam. Your doctor will test your vision and ensure that your eyes are recovering well.
Continue Using Your Eye Drops as Directed
If you still feel dryness or itchiness in your eyes, put some eye drops in them. Depending on the brand prescribed to you, you may use them up to four times a day. As much as possible, avoid touching your eyes within the first week after your surgery.
Avoid Swimming and Contact Sports for a Week
Avoid public pools, hot tubs, freshwater, and saltwater for a week after your surgery. Even lakes and rivers can house toxic algae and other chemicals that can put your entire health at risk.
Aside from swimming, refrain from participating in contact sports like football or volleyball. These activities put your eyes at a high risk of getting poked. You can play them after the first week, but be sure to wear sports goggles for at least one month.
Refrain from Putting Eye Makeup for At Least a Week
Keep your eyes free of eyeliners, mascara, or eye creams during the first week after LASIK. You should also avoid using makeup applicators or brushes around the eye area. This can help stave off infections which your eyes are still at risk of.
Your Second Week After the Surgery
By this time, you may be able to use eye makeup again, but watch out for signs of irritation. If there’s some redness or swelling, stop using the product and call your eye surgeon.
You will also visit your eye doctor during this period for another vision assessment. Let your LASIK surgeon know if you still feel some eye dryness so you can keep using eye drops. This is also a good time to ask the doctor about the activities you can resume.
Within a Month After the Surgery
Many LASIK patients experience improved visual acuity on the day of their surgery. You should notice your vision improving day after day, as well as feel fewer symptoms. Within a month after your surgery, your level of vision should be more stable.
If you had severe nearsightedness before the surgery, your eyes may need more time to heal. Don’t worry though, as your eye doctor will have considered this for your recovery plan. This may include having to wear glasses, but only for a short time, and only to help heal your eyes.
You can use your electronics like before, but make sure you take more breaks in between. Although your eyes are less sensitive at this point, they are still healing.
You would also need to visit your doctor within a month after your laser eye surgery. Your surgeon will keep monitoring your vision and note further improvements.
Three Months and Beyond
Although you may no longer experience any symptoms, your eyes may still be healing at this point. Also, your vision may still keep improving within this time frame. As such, you still have to see your eye surgeon within the third and the sixth month after your surgery.
Promote Proper Healing with These Post-LASIK Care Tips
So long as you follow these LASIK recovery tips, you can help your eyes start healing right after surgery. These will also help prevent complications, such as prolonged dry eye and infections.
And in the rare event that you feel abnormal pain or discomfort, don’t delay calling your eye surgeon.
Are you interested in undergoing LASIK but unsure if you are a good candidate? Or perhaps you’re worried about how your myopia can affect your recovery period. Either way, please feel free to get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to address all your laser eye surgery concerns!