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As I get older, years of staring at a computer screen for up to twelve hours a day, is making my sight blurry. I can’t see clearly at a distance now and need glasses for movies, shows, driving and anything further than 20 feet away. In addition, any tiny print, like the serial numbers on the backs of phone boxes, is now completely unreadable without my reading glasses. Too vain to wear glasses all the time, I am considering LASIK to correct my vision.
In preparation for my own surgery, I have partnered with the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) to do a four-part series on LASIK. In today’s post, we are reprinting a story, which first appeared here on the ARSC Insight Blog, on what you can expect when you get LASIK surgery and the proper aftercare:
When you have LASIK surgery, you are very focused on one thing: seeing better. The good news is that happens almost immediately for the vast majority of LASIK patients. They sit up from having the procedure seeing the world in a whole new way and it is very exciting. However, it’s important for LASIK patients to understand that, as with any surgery, there will be a recovery phase and healing period after you have your procedure.
For most people, LASIK recovery is very fast and patients resume most normal activities within a day or two. However, the complete healing period typically takes ups to 3-6 months during which time you should expect your vision to gradually improve. Working with your LASIK surgeon throughout the recovery and healing process is essential to an overall good outcome. So keep your doctor updated on how you are doing and ask any questions you may have about your vision. Most patients have a short recovery time after LASIK and are very happy with the results. Having LASIK or any vision correction procedure doesn’t end your relationship with your eye doctor; you will still need to have regular eye exams. LASIK doesn’t prevent your eyes from changing as you age, so staying on top of your eye health is important.
Knowing what to expect right after your procedure can be helpful, so here are a few guidelines about what you might experience expect in the days, weeks and months after your surgery – and what you can do to help take care of your eyes as they heal:
LASIK Recovery: The First 24 Hours
After the topical anesthesia wears off, you will likely have some discomfort after surgery. An itching or burning sensation is normal and your doctor will have given you instructions about what and how much pain reliever to take.
When you get home, rest your eyes for 2-4 hours and avoid any strenuous activity. You can return to your normal routine the next day.
Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses if you’re outside during the day and eye shields in bed at night.
Right after the procedure your vision will be foggy as if you opened your eyes under water. You should be able to see much better within hours of the procedure but you may have some temporary side effects as you go through the healing process.
The most common is dryness, and your doctor will likely have provided you with lubricating eye drops. Make sure to use them as instructed to keep your eyes moist.
Other potential symptoms you may experience after surgery include halos around your eyes at night, tearing eyes, puffy eyelids and sensitivity to light. These should all diminish within a week. If you experience severe pain at any time, contact your doctor immediately.
Your doctor will want to see you a day or two after your surgery to test your vision and examine your eyes to make sure your LASIK recovery is going well. It’s very important that you do not rub or touch your eyes for a week. Your eyes will be sensitive and you don’t want to disturb the healing corneal flap.
You should be able to shower the day after your surgery, just be sure to keep soap and any chemicals out of your eyes. Avoid any water that could be contaminated. This includes hot tubs, swimming pools lakes, rivers and the ocean, for at least a week.
Don’t wear eye makeup such as liner or mascara, use application brushes, or apply eye creams for at least a week. This is to help prevent infections.
You can start exercising after the first week. If you lift weights, use machines for the first week before returning to free weights. Wear goggles for swimming laps in the pool.
Stay away from contact sports, such as football for a week and wear sports goggles after that for a month – you don’t want to risk getting poked in the eye.
Three To Six Months
If you have severe myopia (nearsightedness), your eyes may take longer to heal. Your doctor should have provided you with your recovery plan, which may include wearing glasses for a short period of time as your eyes heal.
Your eyes will still be healing during this time. Attend all your follow-up visits with your eye doctor so she can continue to monitor your vision and eye health.