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Immediately after LASIK surgery, patients should expect to experience discomfort, tearing and blurry vision. Additionally, there will be some restrictions on the patient's activities for a period of time after the procedure. Understanding the recovery process will help a patient to avoid making mistakes which can be detrimental to the recovery process or otherwise put the patient at risk.
One of the important restrictions placed on LASIK patients immediately after the surgery is a restriction against driving. Although the patient's vision may drastically improve within 24 hours, it is unlikely the patient's vision will be clear enough to allow the patient to drive safely. For this reason, patients are typically required to have another person available to drive them home after the procedure.
Other restrictions placed on the patient immediately after the surgery include rubbing the eyes, participating in non-contact sports, participating in contact sports and swimming or soaking in hot tubs. All of these activities are prohibited immediately after LASIK surgery, but as the healing process continues the patient is able to reintroduce these activities.
Patients who are considering laser eye surgery may be somewhat apprehensive because they are concerned there will be a number of restrictions on their activities after laser eye surgery. However, this is not usually the case. In fact, the activity limitations after laser eye surgery are actually pretty minimal.
Driving is one activity which will likely be limited after laser eye surgery. Depending on the type of procedure the patient undergoes, the limitations may be for only one to two days or may be for more than a week. However, regardless of the procedure, most patients are not permitted to drive immediately after the procedure. As a result most eye surgeons require patients have a friend or family member available to drive them home after the procedure.
Other activity restrictions are usually related to activities which can disrupt the healing process of the eye. Rubbing the eyes is not allowed for a period of time after the procedure and most patients are required to wear a protective covering over the eyes while sleeping to avoid inadvertently rubbing the eyes during sleep. Other high impact activities should also be avoided during the recovery process to help to ensure the eye heals properly. Other activity restrictions may be imposed by your laser eye surgeon so it is very important to follow all post-operative instructions carefully.
Patients who undergo LASIK surgery will likely already have a good indication of whether or not the procedure was successful relatively soon after the procedure is completed. However, it is important for patients to attend post-operative visits after the procedure so their vision can be properly evaluated. During these appointments the patient's vision after LASIK surgery will be evaluated for both visual acuity, as well as quality of vision.
The process of evaluating the patient's vision after LASIK surgery will include both routine eye examinations to determine the patient's visual acuity, as well as a series of questions designed to evaluate the quality of the patient's vision. Patients will be asked questions which relate to factors such as their vision in dimly lit situations, presence of blurring, double vision and halos. With this information the surgeon can determine how successful the procedure was and whether there is a need for additional care and treatments.
Attending all LASIK post-op visits is absolutely critical to the recovery process. Most surgeons schedule a series of these appointments for each surgery patient before the procedure is completed. These post-op visits are very important because they enable the surgeon to evaluate the way in which the eye is healing and determine whether or not there is the need for emergency aftercare or follow up procedures. Most surgeons require patients to keep a post-op appointment one day after the surgery to enable the surgeon to evaluate the early healing and the health of the eye. After this initial LASIK post-op visit the surgeon will also likely require regular appointments during the next six months.
After LASIK eye surgery, it is very important for patients to attend post-operative appointments and to contact their surgeon immediately if they experience problems, such as severe pain or worsening of vision. Both of these steps are imperative because they can help to prevent the patient from suffering irreparable damage as a result of allowing serious problems to go untreated.
The post-operative appointments after LASIK eye surgery are a very important part of the recovery process. It is during these appointments that the structure of the patient's eye will be examined to determine whether or not the eye is healing correctly and the patient's vision will be tested to determine the degree of the surgery's success. Some patients may be tempted to skip these appointments if they are seeing clearly and not feeling any discomfort but doing so deprives them of the opportunity to have the eye examined carefully by a qualified professional.
Patients should also be aware of the warning signs of serious complications and should consult their surgeon immediately if they experience these symptoms. This may include, but is not limited to, severe pain and worsening of vision. The discomfort a patient may feel immediately after LASIK eye surgery should subside gradually after the procedure instead of worsening. Likewise the patient's vision should improve as opposed to getting worse.
The estimated LASIK recovery time will vary significantly from one patient to the next. However, the vast majority of patients enjoy improved vision within one to two days after the surgical procedure. Although the vision may improve after this brief period and the healing process may have begun sufficiently, it is important to note the full recovery may take up to six months.
Patients are usually able to return to work and other activities within one to three days after LASIK surgery but are not considered to be fully recovered at this time. After approximately three days most patients have improved vision, decreased discomfort and decreased watering of the eyes. Other conditions, such as sensitivity to light and blurred vision may last for up to a week. Dry eyes and poor night vision can last for up to four weeks. Additionally, patients can expect to experience fluctuations in visual acuity for up to six months after the procedure. By this time the eye should be fully recovered and the patient and surgeon should have an understanding of whether the procedure produced the desired results or there is a need for additional procedures.
A LASIK recovery timeline provides valuable information about the discomfort, visual acuity and complications the patient may experience following the procedure. This information may be useful for determining whether or not the healing process is progressing properly. It also provides information on the types of activities the patient should avoid during the recovery phase.
Patients may experience improved vision within one to three days after the procedure but may experience fluctuations in vision for up to six months. They may also have poor night vision and dry eyes for up to four weeks. Additionally hazy or blurred vision and sensitivity to light may persist for up to a week. Physical symptoms, such as discomfort and tearing, shouldn't last more than three days.
A LASIK recovery timeline should also advise the patient about activities to avoid during different phases of the recovery process. Specifically non-contact sports should be avoided in the first three days after the surgery and contact sports should be avoided in the first four weeks. The patient is also advised to wear a protective eye shield while sleeping in the first four weeks to prevent rubbing the eyes. Activities, such as swimming or sitting in a hot tub, should be avoided for eight weeks after the surgery.
It is important to arrange to have someone bring you home after your LASIK eye surgery. You will most likely not be able to see well enough to drive, and you may be prescribed drugs which will interfere with your ability to get home on your own.
You will not see clearly or feel well immediately. After all, you've just had surgery to a very sensitive part of your body! Some people experience mild pain, and eye doctors may prescribe a painkiller. Most people find they instinctively want to rub their eyes after the surgery. Don't do it!
Plan on taking a few days off from work or school. You may experience visual side effects like starbursts, haloes, or sensitivity to light. Some of these may take up to four weeks to completely go away.
At your first postoperative visit, your eye doctor should remove your shield and examine your eye. You will then find out how well the LASIK vision correction worked.
You may need to wait one to three days after surgery before resuming exercise, and up to two weeks before resuming wearing eye makeup or using lotions or creams near the eye. You should also avoid swimming and using hot tubs for up to two months after LASIK surgery
As always, it's a good idea to communicate clearly with your eye doctor about what you're experiencing, and to ask for help if you are in pain.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|