Like all medical procedures, there is a recovery time associated with LASIK vision correction. All patients are different, but most find they recover faster than they anticipated. Here’s what you can probably expect after your own LASIK procedure.
The Day of LASIK Eye Surgery
After the procedure has been performed and it’s time to go home, you’ll need to close your eyes to rest them, so be sure to arrange for a ride home. For about 30 minutes following the procedure, the numbing eyedrops used will still have an effect. As the drops wear off, you may have some scratchiness or a gritty feeling in the eyes; patients often describe it as feeling like they have an eyelash in their eye or a tear in a contact lens. Closing your eyes will help, and you can even sleep if you like. Usually the scratchy feeling goes away in a short time. When you do open your eyes, you’ll find that your vision has already improved over your uncorrected pre-LASIK eyesight. Refrain from jumping with joy quite yet, as you should avoid strenuous activity for two days.
Your doctor will provide you with protective glasses, which should be worn all day immediately following the procedure. Most doctors recommend wearing the protective glasses for three nights, although for patients who bury their heads in their pillows or have small children who may jump into their beds at night like ninjas, this may be extended.
The Next Few Days
I had LASIK done about a week ago, and let me tell you how amazing it is to wake up and be able to see my alarm clock, see my feet, see the world without throwing on glasses or popping contacts into my eyeballs! Words can’t explain how amazing it feels to SEE. It makes each day seem brighter and better! – Ashley J., LASIK patient, Minneapolis, MN
When you wake up the day after the procedure, you can take off the protective glasses. Your vision will be even better, and you’ll be able to get around the house easily. Many patients go back to their normal activities, including driving, which is a momentous experience for those who haven’t driven without glasses or contacts in years. However, for up to a week, you may notice that your eyes are still a bit sensitive to light, so keep this in mind when going out into sunlight or using bright lights in your home. Plan to have non-prescription sunglasses on hand. (This may be a new concept for patients who are used to wearing regular glasses day in and day out!)
There are a few additional key points to remember for the first week of recovery:
- Do not participate in strenuous physical activity for two days.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes to reduce the risk of infection and complications.
- Refrain from any eye makeup for a week.
- If you play sports, wear safety goggles.
- Use all eyedrops as your doctor prescribed them during the recovery period.
After the first week of recovery, you are generally able to get back to work, drive and do everything else that you normally do. You may have fluctuations in your vision after the procedure, but this won’t impact your daily activities.
Follow all your doctor’s instructions for follow-up appointments. Some patients skip appointments because their vision is so good, but it’s best to let the doctor monitor your vision. There is a chance that you will have some side effects for a few months following the surgery, such as glares, halos and dry eyes, but these usually resolve on their own.
You’ll feel surprisingly confident in your vision within hours of having LASIK vision correction, but the full recovery can take a few weeks. It’s critical to use all medications exactly as prescribed and to keep all follow-up appointments, even if you feel 100 percent.
As you get used to your improved vision, consider an act of celebration and charity: Donate your old, unnecessary prescription glasses. Many LASIK vision centers collect used glasses and put them to good use.