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Top 10 Best Tips for Post-LASIK Eye Care and Recovery

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

The key to LASIK success lies in proper post-LASIK eye care. Approximately 20 to 25 million LASIK procedures have been performed in the US. Studies indicate high satisfaction among individuals who undergo LASIK surgery, with most reporting high satisfaction, including 99% attaining 20/40 vision or better in one study.

However, realizing these excellent outcomes relies on diligent post-LASIK eye care that facilitates healing and avoids complications. Active post-LASIK eye care during recovery enables smooth progression toward clear vision goals.

This post-LASIK eye care article outlines tips on using prescribed medications, adjusting devices to prevent eye strain, limiting irritant exposure, and attending follow-up exams. Following these postoperative eye care best practices facilitates successful visual rehabilitation and avoids complications that negatively impact eyesight.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Follow your surgeon's instructions for using any prescribed medications after surgery. Carefully adhere to the dosage, timing, and technique, and complete the full regimen as directed to support proper healing and reduce complications.
  • Wear sunglasses every time going outside after LASIK, even on cloudy days, to protect your sensitive eyes from UV rays. Go for large, wraparound styles that block 100% UVA/UVB rays to shield eyes optimally.
  • Do not rub your eyes during recovery, as this can displace the corneal flap, interrupt healing, or cause long-term issues like recurrent corneal erosion. Avoid this reflex at all costs.
  • Use lubricating eye drops as frequently as directed to ease dryness and discomfort, restore moisture to the corneal surface, and facilitate faster epithelial healing for a smoother recovery.
  • Wear protective goggles or shields to safeguard your eyes from irritants and trauma during the initial vulnerable healing period and minimize risks requiring repairs.
  • Avoid swimming, hot tubs, lakes, pools, and all other water exposure for at least one month post-op or until your surgeon gives clearance to allow the corneal flap to heal and adhere without displacement properly.
  • When using digital devices, follow the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain regularly - take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away.
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up exams so your surgeon can closely monitor your healing trajectory, check vision changes, and promptly address any lingering side effects or complications requiring intervention.
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Understanding LASIK Surgery

LASIK (Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis) surgery uses a laser to reshape the cornea and correct vision problems like nearsightedness, astigmatism, and farsightedness. During the procedure, a thin flap is created on the surface of the cornea, allowing the underlying tissue to be precisely reshaped by the laser. The flap is then laid back into place where it adheres without stitches.

After LASIK surgery, the recovery begins as the eyes start healing and adjusting. It typically takes about 4-6 weeks for vision to stabilize fully. Proper aftercare is vital for minimizing discomfort and complications risks and helping eyes mend appropriately post-operation.

Post-LASIK surgery brings heightened light sensitivity, tearing, irritation, and fatigue as corneal nerves regenerate and cut mend. Eyes require extra protection and rest while inner tissue is repaired.

Tips To Follow After LASIK Surgery

While LASIK provides life-changing results, following proper post-operative care and guidelines is essential for achieving successful outcomes and maintaining your new vision. Adhering to these post-LASIK instructions will help ensure your eyes heal properly in the days and weeks following your procedure. Careful attention to rest, medication, follow-ups, and avoiding certain activities can influence the safety and stability of your outcome.

1. Use All Prescribed Medications Properly.

The success rate of LASIK surgery is remarkably high. In 2023, LASIK procedures boasted at least 96% success rates, with some cases reaching up to 98%. This success rate is attributed to advanced laser vision correction technology, proper postoperative care, and medication adherence​.

Proper healing after LASIK surgery heavily relies on closely following your surgeon's instructions regarding medication use. This involves meticulously adhering to the prescribed regimen, including the dosage, timing, and application technique of eye drops and possibly pain relievers. It's essential to be precise in following these directions.

Furthermore, completing the entire course of medications as your surgeon directs is vital. This is important even if your eyes begin to feel better or your vision appears to have improved. Consistency in adhering to the medication schedule is also crucial for effective healing.

👍 Recommendation

Set reminders/alarms on your phone to manage the postoperative eye drop administration schedule. Consistency is vital, so promptly administer each medication on time per your surgeon's instructions.

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2. Wear Sunglasses Outdoors

Source: Kraywoods

After LASIK surgery, patients commonly experience temporary light sensitivity, which typically resolves within a week. A study of chronic light sensitivity found that over a quarter of physicians who underwent LASIK experienced noticeable difficulty with light sensitivity one to two years after the procedure.

Additionally, up to 95% of LASIK patients report immediate symptoms of dry eye, which can contribute to light sensitivity. Nearly two-thirds of these patients continue to experience symptoms a month following the surgery, and up to 40% may have lasting dry eye complaints for at least six months post-operation, increasing the risk of photophobia.

To minimize the effects of light sensitivity on patients, they are advised to rest their eyes, avoid bright lights and screens, and wear sunglasses and a hat outdoors.

If light sensitivity persists beyond the first week, worsens, or resurfaces, patients should contact their doctor for potential treatment options. In cases of persistent light sensitivity, it could indicate a complication requiring professional attention.​

3. Avoid Eye Rubbing

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Source: The Ophthalmologist

During the LASIK healing process, avoiding rubbing your eyes is imperative, as this can significantly disrupt the recovery and affect the final visual outcomes. Rubbing your eyes is a common instinct, but in the post-LASIK period, it's essential to resist this habit ultimately to ensure proper healing.

Rubbing the eyes after LASIK surgery can severely disrupt the corneal integrity. The cornea, the surgery site, is delicate and needs adequate time to heal and settle. Forceful rubbing might displace the flap created during the surgery or cause micro-injuries that could hinder the healing process.

Moreover, eye rubbing can interfere with the bonding of Bowman's layer, a crucial component of the cornea's structure. This layer is vital in maintaining the cornea's shape and overall integrity. Interrupting its bonding process through rubbing can lead to complications.

4. Use Lubricating Eye Drops

🩺Doctor's Note

Regularly using preservative-free artificial tears for at least 2-3 months after LASIK is strongly recommended to lubricate the ocular surface and support healing.

After LASIK surgery, lubricating eye drops as directed is essential for soothing dryness and healing the eye's delicate outer surface. The ocular surface can experience temporary disruption following LASIK surgery, which might lead to discomfort or a sensation of dryness.

Lubricating eye drops alleviate these symptoms by soothing the eye's surface, reducing irritation, redness, and gritty sensations. They provide a protective layer that promotes smoother healing and minimizes post-operative discomfort.

Regularly applying these drops is vital for maintaining a healthy tear film, effectively reducing the sensation of dryness or the feeling of a foreign body in the eye frequently experienced after surgery.

Additionally, lubricating eye drops significantly expedite the healing of the corneal epithelium, the eye's outermost layer. These drops aid in faster and more efficient epithelium healing, ensuring a smoother and quicker recovery following LASIK surgery.

📑 Related Articles

For further discussion about eye drops, you can read these articles:

5. Wear Protective Eyewear

Source: Dry eye shop

The use of protective eyewear after LASIK surgery aligns with the procedure's general safety and success profile. LASIK surgery has a high success rate, with statistics showing at least a 96% success rate.

The safety of LASIK has been extensively studied, and the complication rate for the procedure is estimated to be less than 1%. It's important to consider that these statistics largely reflect the outcomes when patients adhere to postoperative care guidelines, including using protective eyewear.

The emphasis on wearing protective goggles or shields after LASIK is a precaution to safeguard the delicate state of the corneas during the healing process and to minimize exposure to environmental irritants. This practice is vital in ensuring the eyes heal optimally and helps to maintain the high success rates associated with LASIK surgery.

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6. Avoid Swimming and Hot Tubs

After undergoing LASIK surgery, avoiding swimming or using hot tubs is essential until your doctor confirms it's safe. This precaution is necessary because water can pose a risk of dislodging the corneal flaps, which are still healing and increase the likelihood of infection.

The water in pools, lakes, or hot tubs contains bacteria and other microorganisms that could lead to eye infections, particularly during the sensitive post-operative period. Such infections can significantly compromise the healing process.

The corneal flap created during LASIK surgery requires time to adhere securely to the eye's surface. Exposure to water, especially in environments like hot tubs and swimming pools, can disrupt the adhesion process. This disruption could potentially lead to the dislodging of the flap or cause other complications.

7. Keep Follow-Up Exams

Source: Pena Eye

Attending all follow-up exams after LASIK surgery is crucial for evaluating the healing process, checking for vision changes, and addressing any side effects or complications. Patients commonly experience fluctuating vision, tearing, and other temporary symptoms in the initial weeks following the procedure.

These symptoms generally improve as the eyes stabilize, usually around six weeks post-surgery. During follow-up visits, your surgeon will conduct vision tests to confirm your progress and ensure your vision correction is stable.

These follow-up exams are also vital for identifying and assessing any lingering effects or complications that might persist after surgery. Comprehensive evaluations are conducted to detect issues such as dry eyes, halos, glare, or other visual disturbances.

These visits also provide an opportunity to treat any potential complications. Whether managing dryness, discomfort, or unexpected visual symptoms, follow-up exams enable your surgeon to provide the necessary interventions or adjustments in treatment plans.

8. Limit Digital Device Use

Reducing screen time after LASIK surgery is a crucial step in the recovery process, as it helps to minimize eye strain and promote healing. The first 24 hours post-surgery are essential for allowing your eyes to rest.

During this period, it's recommended to avoid looking at screens, including TVs, computers, smartphones, or tablets, as these devices emit concentrated light that can irritate and strain your eyes.

Prolonged screen exposure can exacerbate common post-operative side effects like dry eyes and visual disturbances. Therefore, minimizing screen time during the initial recovery phase reduces such complications.

The 20-20-20 rule is recommended to alleviate eye strain when using screens. This involves taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away, giving your eyes a much-needed rest.

Adjusting the settings on your digital devices can also reduce strain on your healing eyes. This includes dimming the screen brightness, using blue light filters or night mode settings, enlarging text size, and increasing contrast to make viewing more comfortable.

9. Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Source: GenV

Incorporating healthy habits such as proper sleep and hydration is beneficial for recovery after LASIK surgery.

Ensuring quality sleep is crucial for the body's healing process. Sleeping for a minimum of 6 hours is advised to support corneal healing. During sleep, the eyes rest and remain consistently lubricated, vital for recovery.

Proper hydration plays a pivotal role in the success and comfort of the recovery process from LASIK surgery. Staying well-hydrated helps maintain the stability of our tear film, the thin layer of fluid that covers the eye's surface, which is essential for preventing dry eyes—a common condition post-surgery.

Drinking at least eight glasses (64 ounces) of water daily before and after the surgery is recommended. This practice also boosts the immune system, thus reducing the risk of eye infection.

Combining these healthy habits—adequate sleep and sufficient hydration—can significantly aid the recovery and healing process following LASIK surgery.

10. Have Realistic Expectations

Understanding what to expect after LASIK surgery is crucial for easing anxiety during recovery. Knowing that temporary effects are a normal healing process can alleviate unnecessary concerns. These temporary effects often include slight discomfort, dryness, or fluctuations in vision and usually resolve within a few days to weeks. Knowing these symptoms are common and temporary helps mentally prepare for recovery.

Equally important is diligently adhering to the care instructions provided by your surgeon. Following these guidelines properly is essential for optimal healing and reducing the risk of severe complications. Proper post-operative care is a critical factor in ensuring a smooth recovery.

Understanding the normalcy of temporary post-operative effects and strictly adhering to care instructions form the foundation of a successful recovery from LASIK surgery.

Wrapping-Up

Undergoing Lasik can be life-changing, finally freeing you from the constraints of glasses or contacts by providing clear, natural vision. However, the success of this procedure relies heavily on diligent adherence to post-LASIK eye care. Meticulously following your surgeon's guidelines supports the optimal healing of your corneas and eyes to achieve the visual acuity you desire.

With close compliance to post-LASIK eye care directives, patience through the stabilization period, and timely reporting of concerns, you can actively champion the positive outcome of your procedure. Avoid complacency and stay disciplined with post-LASIK eye care measures recommended by your eye doctor.

The few weeks or months of recovery will pave the way for many years of straightforward, vibrant sight free of glasses. Commit to proper post-LASIK eye care, lean on support systems, and keep your eyes on the prize of corrected vision that will significantly enhance how you navigate life ahead. Post-LASIK eye care is essential during healing to prepare you for visual success.

FAQs on Post Lasik Eye Care

How long does it take for vision to stabilize after LASIK surgery?

Vision fluctuations are common in the first few days and can continue improving over the first month. The full recovery and stabilization of vision can take up to six months.​

When should I schedule follow-up appointments?

The first follow-up should be within 24 to 48 hours after surgery, with subsequent weekly and monthly check-ups as required. These appointments are essential for monitoring recovery and addressing any complications.​

How should I protect my eyes while sleeping?

It's advised to wear the plastic shield or goggles provided by your surgeon every night for a specified period (usually about five nights) post-surgery. This helps to prevent accidental rubbing or pressure on your eyes while sleeping.​

Can I wear makeup or use facial products after LASIK?

You should avoid using makeup, lotions, and creams around your eyes for at least two weeks post-surgery. This helps prevent infections and irritation during the healing process.