Updated on  February 20, 2024
7 min read

LASIK Surgery: What Is Post-Op Care?

7 sources cited
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LASIK Surgery Overview

Laser in-situ keratomileusis, popularly known as LASIK, is a treatment that corrects vision problems.1 It’s typically used to treat refractive errors, such as:

LASIK surgery involves changing the shape of the cornea to enhance focus. The cornea is the clear part of your eye that focuses light on the retina, which enables clear vision. 

4 LASIK Post-Op Instructions & Care Tips 

Below are tips to help you recover successfully after LASIK surgery.

1. Rest Your Eyes

Like any surgical procedure, it’s important to rest after LASIK surgery. You may feel some pain and discomfort immediately after the procedure. 

In addition to taking medication, keeping your eyes closed for a few hours can ease pain and improve the healing process. Even if you can see clearer than before, avoid overworking your eyes until you recover.

2. Take Medications as Prescribed 

After the surgery, you’ll use eye medications to treat inflammation and prevent infections. To help with dryness, you might have to use artificial tears and other lubricating eye drops. Use these medications exactly as instructed by your doctor.

In many cases, this might mean taking the drops multiple times every day or hour. Failure to administer them correctly can result in significant harm or a prolonged recovery time.

3. Attend Follow-Up Sessions

Follow-up appointments will help your eye doctor monitor your progress as you recover. It also allows for early detection of any issues, such as severe pain or worsening vision after LASIK.

Make your first follow-up appointment within 24 to 48 hours after the surgery. You will also require weekly and monthly evaluations until you fully recover. The frequency of your follow-up appointments depends on whether you experience complications during the surgery.

4. Wear Protective Sunglasses 

Light sensitivity is a common issue after LASIK surgery. Although this might go away after a day or two, wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection will protect your healing eyes.4

Sunglasses also protect your eyes from debris, dust, and dry air that can result in dryness. Consult your eye doctor if you’re unsure about the right sunglasses.

What to Expect After LASIK & Recovery Timeline

Immediately after LASIK surgery, you might experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes/excess tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Glares and halos around lights
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Mild pain

These symptoms will improve gradually. Your eye doctor might prescribe pain medications to ease discomfort. Also, avoid touching your eyes to prevent complications.

Recovery Timeline

It will take about 3 to 6 months to recover fully. But your vision should be crisp within a few days to weeks following the surgery. During this time, visit your eye doctor frequently for follow-up care.

Your doctor might recommend prescription eye drops to prevent infections or inflammation. You may also need prescription painkillers to relieve eye pain whenever it occurs.

What Not to Do After LASIK

Avoid the following after LASIK eye surgery:

Rubbing Your Eyes

Although your eyes may itch following surgery, you shouldn’t touch them. This might lead to issues with your corneal flap and, as a result, prolong recovery time. 

If your eyes itch, use preservative-free artificial tears to relieve the discomfort. Always consult your doctor before using these drops.5

Remember to wear protective eye goggles at night. This can help stop you from accidentally rubbing your eyes during sleep.

Getting Water Into Your Eyes

Like any surface, water contains bacteria and other infectious germs.6 As the corneal flap created during LASIK is healing, any contact with contaminated water can result in infection.

To avoid getting water in your eyes, close them as you shower. You should also avoid swimming in the following during the recovery period: 

  • Rivers
  • Lakes
  • The ocean

Pools and Hot Tubs

Pools and hot tubs often contain chemicals that interfere with healing after LASIK surgery. For example, chlorine is dangerous and can irritate sensitive eyes after surgery.7 You should at least wait a month before you come into contact with chlorinated water.

Eye Makeup

Avoid wearing eye makeup for a few weeks after the procedure. Eye makeup encourages bacterial growth and increases the chances of infection after LASIK surgery.

To be safe, avoid all types of eye makeup, including: 

  • Mascara
  • Eyeliners
  • Eye shadows
  • Artificial eyelashes

You should also avoid eye lotions and creams for up to two weeks. Talk to your doctor if you want to know how long you have to wait after LASIK before you can wear eye makeup. They can help you avoid complications and issues as you resume your makeup routine.

Contact Lenses

Most surgeons recommend waiting two to three months after LASIK before being fitted with contact lenses. You should also ask your doctor for specific recommendations for wearing contacts after the procedure.

Successfully fitting contacts can also be difficult. This is because the procedure alters the curvature of your eye’s surface. 

Intense Activity

Avoid strenuous activities or sports for a few weeks after LASIK. Some activities, such as heavy lifting, can put too much pressure on the eyes and compromise the healing process. 

It’s also best to avoid contact sports during the recovery period. After you heal, you should still wear protective glasses when you resume activities.

Returning to Normal Activities

After LASIK surgery, most people return to regular activity after a day or two. However, following your surgeon’s strict post-op care plan is essential for the best results. This involves scheduling follow-up appointments.

You can begin to take normal showers 48 hours after surgery. After at least a week or two, other activities such as swimming, biking, and relaxing in hot tubs may be allowed in moderation. 

After a month of recovery, you can resume high-impact activities like contact sports. Just be sure to use protective eyewear. Remember that these are general timelines and recommendations for post-operative LASIK care. Talk to your doctor for specific information about your case.

LASIK Eye Surgery Procedure

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), LASIK is a safe and effective alternative to prescription glasses and contact lenses. Here’s a quick look at what to expect before, during, and after LASIK surgery:2

Before Surgery

You’ll need to meet specific candidacy requirements to qualify for the procedure. They’ll evaluate you several times before the surgery for accurate measurements. 

Remember to tell your doctor about any medical conditions and medications you’re taking that might affect healing. Additionally, they’ll discuss the benefits and risks you can expect.

Your doctor will also recommend you stop wearing contacts for some time because contacts affect the shape of your cornea. This gives your cornea time to assume its original shape: 

  • Soft contact lenses. 2 weeks before the first evaluation
  • Toric soft lenses or rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses. 3 weeks before the first evaluation
  • Hard lenses. 4 weeks before the initial evaluation

Ignoring this caution might result in negative consequences, such as an inaccurate measurement or surgical failure. These can worsen or lead to vision loss. 

During Surgery

During the LASIK procedure, you will sit in a reclining chair, and your doctor will clean your eye(s) in preparation for the procedure. They will also place numbing drops into your eyes.

They’ll then use a femtosecond laser to cut a flap and safely remove tissue from certain areas in the cornea.3 The device works through photoablative decomposition. 

This is a process where ultraviolet energy from the excimer laser treats the targeted area without causing any damage to surrounding tissue. The LASIK procedure takes around 30 minutes or less.

After Surgery

After LASIK, you will need time to recover. Your surgeon will place a protective eye shield over your eyes.

Your surgeon will tell you everything you need to know to enhance healing and prevent infections. However, your vision may be altered for some time while you recover.

This should resolve within a few days to weeks. Be sure to visit your eye doctor 24 to 48 hours after the surgery to monitor the healing process closely.

Listen In Q&A Format

How Should You Take Care of Your Eyes After Undergoing LASIK Surgery?
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LASIK (Laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a laser eye procedure used to treat refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness. The procedure is quick, painless, and greatly enhances vision.

You’ll need to follow specific instructions from your doctor and surgical care team post-surgery. This enhances your healing and recovery process.

Recovering from LASIK can take 1 to 2 weeks. You’ll need to wait at least a month before resuming high-impact activities like sports.

Updated on  February 20, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. LASIK eye surgery.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 2021.
  2. What should I expect before, during, and after surgery?” Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  3. Manche et al. “Excimer laser refractive surgery.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
  4.  Linda Searing “The Big Number: UV ratings for sunglasses.” The Washington Post, 2018.
  5.  Ţuru L. et al. “Dry eye disease after LASIK.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2012.
  6. Water related ocular diseases.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2017.
  7. How Does Chlorine Affect Your Eyes?” Cleveland Clinic, 2021.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.