LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is a vision correction surgery that treats nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 90% of LASIK patients can see without glasses or contacts after the surgery but there are a few post-surgery recovery tips that you should know about beforehand.
“With LASIK, the recovery period is very quick — within a day or two — before people resume most of their normal activities,” Eric Donnenfeld, MD, surgeon and clinical professor of ophthalmology at New York University Medical Center in Manhattan tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“Healing from laser vision correction can occur over a few months before the final visual outcome is achieved,” Donnenfeld says.
More LASIK recovery tips from experts include:
Recovery depends on what happens before your surgery. — “The most important thing about LASIK recovery is the preoperative evaluation,” Amir Moarefi, MD, a refractive surgeon in Long Beach, CA, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “You have to be careful of these places that you go to where you don’t sit down with a surgeon beforehand, and the surgeon never looks at your medical history and things like that,” Moarefi says.
During your initial consultation, your ophthalmologist will take a corneal topography or a 3D map of your eye. This is especially important since LASIK reshapes corneal tissue, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
“The cornea is mapped using sophisticated wavefront technology and other devices measure the health and function of the inside and back of the eye,” Donnenfeld says. Your exam will determine if you’re a good candidate for LASIK, or if you should consider other eye surgeries.
Get a ride home — You will not be able to drive right after LASIK, so you’ll want to arrange transportation for after the procedure. During the surgery, your doctor might administer medicine that can cause blurry vision and impair your driving ability, so make sure you have a designated driver who can help you get home.
Sleep is important — LASIK patients are usually advised to nap after the surgery. “That laser incision that you make can give you a foreign body sensation, like a lash in your eye. But the more you keep your eyes closed, the quicker they’ll heal up, and the better they’ll feel,” Moarefi says.
Eye drops are key — The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that LASIK patients should be provided with eye drops to relieve dryness after surgery. According to a 2018 article published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, about half of LASIK patients continue to have dry eyes a week after surgery, while 20% to 40% have dry eyes six months later. If your dry eye persists or causes pain, it’s best to call your doctor.
Your eyes will age — Many people assume that their LASIK wore off years after their corrective surgery. But the fact is, as you get older, your eyes will age too.
“LASIK is permanent, but it cannot prevent aging,” Lance Kugler, MD, a refractive surgeon in Omaha, NE tells WebMD Connect to Care. “That’s a common misconception people have. They think their LASIK wore off. For people in their 40s, the lens inside their eye does change, and they will need reading glasses as a result,” Kugler says.
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