After undergoing LASIK, many patients develop a sense of invincibility regarding their eyes. They’re no longer completely dependent on glasses or contacts, and they want to enjoy every minute of it. While this is understandable — you should enjoy your improved vision — it is just as important to protect your eyes as you indulge in activities that previously might not have been possible.
See Your Doctor
Monitoring your eye health is just as critical after LASIK as it was before. Visit your doctor once a year or as often as he recommends. Make additional appointments if you notice vision changes, discomfort or any other alarming symptoms. Think of your eye doctor as your partner in maintaining the vision you now enjoy.
Ultraviolet (UV) light is extremely dangerous for your eyes, especially when you are near reflective surfaces, such as water or glass. The light can bounce off those surfaces and hit your eyes from multiple angles. (This is true whether you’ve had LASIK or not.) To prevent this, purchase sunglasses that are rated for 100 percent UV protection, including UVA and UVB.
Put on a Hat
While sunglasses provide significant protection from the sun’s assault on the eyes, they don’t block all its rays. The spaces between the lenses and the eyes — above the glasses and to the sides — are vulnerable, and a hat can help close those gaps. Choose one with a wide brim if you plan to spend time outdoors on sunny days.
When working at the computer, watching television or sitting at a glass-topped table, make every effort to reduce glare. This might mean repositioning the lamps in your home so they do not reflect in shiny surfaces or covering windows to reduce the amount if light entering the room. Glare is hard on the eyes and can have the same impact as direct light exposure.
Avoid staring at things for extended periods of time. To prevent eyestrain, look away from the object of your attention every 15 to 20 minutes. Focus on something that is a greater distance from your eyes than the object on which you’ve been focusing. For example, if your computer monitor is 20 inches away from your eyes, you might pause every 15 minutes to look at the framed painting six feet away on the wall. The farther away the “relief” object, the better.
Use Eye Protection
An inexpensive pair of safety glasses or goggles is an excellent investment in eye health. You can find these in sporting goods and home improvement stores, and you should wear them whenever you engage in an activity that might cause damage to your eyes. This might seem like common sense if you are skiing down a mountain or riding a motorbike through the wilderness, but you should also use safety glasses or goggles for simpler tasks. When working with cleaning supplies that contain chemicals, for example, or sanding a piece of furniture, goggles and safety glasses protect your eyes.
Dryness, irritation, itching and burning are all cause for concern. Your body communicates with discomfort, and it is important to listen. Your eyes might feel gritty or grainy if you do not get sufficient sleep, or they might burn or itch when there is not enough moisture to keep them lubricated. Eyedrops are a powerful tool when used for temporarily relief, but always tell your doctor if you experience chronic discomfort of any kind.
A healthy, active lifestyle is an important part of your overall well-being, but you need to take care of your body as you pursue the activities you most enjoy. Above all, make sure your eye protection measures are appropriate for the activity. If you engage in sports, for example, purchase safety glasses intended for use in that particular sport.
The more you know about eye health and the potential hazards that could affect it, the easier it will become to take cautionary measures. Enjoy your eyes after LASIK but resist the urge to develop an apathetic attitude toward eye health.