Proper post-op care is essential after every procedure, but especially on a body part as sensitive and fragile as the eyes. The most common procedure performed on the eyes is LASIK. Though the procedure itself has become exponentially safer and more effective in recent years, after LASIK eye surgery there is post-op care that must be observed in order to achieve the most desirable result. Not only is the possibility of side-effects is diminished when proper LASIK post-op care is performed, but it can also expedite your healing timeline.
What is LASIK Post-Op Care?
The goal of LASIK post-op care is to care for your eyes after your surgery, increasing your satisfaction with the procedure while decreasing the possibility of negative side-effects.
After LASIK eye surgery, your surgical team will create a multi-faceted recovery plan for you to follow. This plan will include follow-up appointments with your doctor as well as general guidelines and instructions.
To understand LASIK post-op care, first it is important that you understand what LASIK is, and how it works. The procedure uses a specialized laser to create a flap in your cornea. Then, a second laser is used to reform the tissues underneath, reshaping the cornea to correct refractive errors affecting your vision. The flap will reseal itself in a few days as a natural part of the healing process; no stitches are required.
While your eyes are healing after LASIK eye surgery, it is important that you do not rub or touch your eyes too much. This could lead to infection, or to improper healing of the flap in your cornea.
Your LASIK post-op care plan will likely include eye drops to keep the tissues in your eyes properly moisturized. Your doctor can also prescribe you a painkiller to help combat any discomfort you may experience in the days following your procedure.
Your first follow-up appointment after LASIK eye surgery will be scheduled 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. During this appointment, your doctor will check up on your healing and the quality of your vision, and assess any changes that might need to be made to your care plan. Follow-up appointments should continue periodically for six months to ensure your recovery is on-track.
Recovery Timeline After LASIK Eye Surgery
Though LASIK is not an invasive procedure, it is advisable to take it easy for a few days post-op. LASIK is highly individualized to each patient, but there are some guidelines common to all patients. Here is a general recovery timeline, as well as some of those common guidelines:
- The first 6 hours. This is the time of the highest discomfort. Keep your eyes closed as much as possible, and avoid any bright lights.
- The first 24 hours. This is the most crucial time in your recovery. You should avoid straining your eyes, including reading or screen time. You should also avoid showering for at least 24 hours after the procedure, and when you do shower, avoid getting any chemicals or soap into your eye. Do not drive until your vision is sufficiently clear to do so.
- 1 to 2 weeks post-LASIK. You can begin exercise during this time, but you should continue to avoid contact sports for roughly another month. Wear sunglasses when you are outside, and utilize the eye drops your doctor gave you as needed. You should avoid wearing makeup or applying any cream or lotion around the eyes for a week following your procedure. You should also avoid swimming in any water that might contain contaminants such as public swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, oceans, or rivers for at least two weeks.
- 1 month post-LASIK. This is around the time when it becomes acceptable to return to strenuous activity, including sports. However, it may be advisable to wear sports goggles for a while, just to ensure your eyes are fully healed.
- 3 to 6 months post-LASIK. Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of your LASIK recovery timeline. Your vision will continue to improve. More severe refractive errors may take closer to 6 months than 3 to achieve 20/20 vision, but as long as you attend all your follow-up appointments and take good care of your eyes as they heal, you’ll be back to normal and glasses and contact lens-free in 6 months.
Healing Your Eyes After LASIK Eye Surgery
There are some potential side-effects of LASIK that proper eye-care after LASIK eye surgery can minimize. Some of the most common side effects that can occur are:
- Poor night vision
- Halos around lights
- Double vision
- Excessive dry eyes
- Complications with the healing of the flap
These last two potential side effects can lead to serious problems, and the rest are at best unpleasant. However, there are simple things you can do in order to stave off these side effects.
Here is a list of things you should do, as well as some things you should avoid, after LASIK eye surgery:
- Wait to drive until your vision is clear enough to do so
- Limit screen time for the first week or so, and avoid all screens for the first day
- Do not rub your eyes for at least a month
- Wait at least a day to shower and wash your hair. When you do shower, avoid getting shampoo or soap into your eyes
- Use the protective eye shield provided by your doctor for as long as they recommend, at least for a week at night while sleeping
- Stay away from spas, whirlpools, hot tubs, saunas, and swimming pools for a few weeks
- Wear sunglasses when out in the sun for at least a month
- Stay out of dirty or dusty environments for at least a week
- Do not wear makeup or put lotions or creams near the eye for the initial week or two following surgery
- Wait a few weeks before returning to sports
- Use eye drops regularly to keep your eyes from drying out
- Stick to the care plan outlined by your surgical team
- Attend all your follow-up appointments
Contact Shreveport Eye Specialists!
Dr. Russ Van Norman is a trusted ophthalmologist serving the Shreveport area. If you are interested in LASIK eye surgery, contact Shreveport Eye Specialists today at 318-703-5655, and gain your vision back!