You researched LASIK. You met with several doctors to determine whom you wanted performing the surgery. You scheduled the procedure, and you’re mentally prepared for the big day. Do you know what to do immediately following your LASIK procedure?
LASIK is one of the most common laser vision correction procedures, with over 15 million procedures performed in the U.S. LASIK can improve vision and reduce dependence on glasses or contacts. However, in order to enjoy the greatest benefit from LASIK, the patient has some responsibility for postoperative care. Included here are five steps you can take to help ensure the best outcome.
Limit Your Activities
As with most surgeries, you will need to limit your activity for a short time after LASIK. For example, you should not drive for the first one to two days following the procedure. Although inconvenient, it is safer to allow your eyes to heal and your vision to stabilize before you get behind the wheel. Your LASIK surgeon will provide a more detailed timeline depending on your particular case. You will also want to limit the time you spend reading to a few hours a day in order to prevent eye fatigue.
Avoid exercise, sports, gardening and other activities that could jar the body and head for a minimum of one week to prevent the possibility of dislodging the corneal flap that is created during the LASIK procedure. You should also make sure to wear sunglasses during all outdoor activities. Those UVA- and UVB-blocking lenses are extremely important during the period immediately following your procedure. Squinting can dislodge the corneal flap, and those warm rays of sun can cause corneal haze. If you experience the light sensitivity common among many LASIK patients, this haze may result in impaired vision and discomfort.
Don’t Rub Your Eyes
While the eye is an extremely fast-healing organ, it does not repair itself instantly. On average, the edges of the corneal flap heal within three days. To be extra careful, do not rub your eyes for a week after the procedure. If you are concerned that you may inadvertently rub or knock your eyes in your sleep, your surgeon may recommend that you wear goggle-style glasses at night to protect your healing eyes.
Avoid Getting Water In Your Eyes
For the first two to three weeks after your LASIK procedure, your doctor will advise you against getting water of any kind in your eyes. As we have already discussed, the flap created during your LASIK procedure takes time to heal. Water, even in your shower and bath, carries bacteria that could cause an infection in the healing eyes. If you feel that you need to clean the areas around your eyes, soak a cotton ball with saline solution, close your eyes and gently pat the area around your eyes.
Take All Prescribed Medications & Use Lubricating Drops
It’s important to use the medicated eyedrops prescribed by your doctor after (and sometimes before) LASIK. Not only will these medications help your eyes to heal properly, they will also help prevent swelling and infection, both of which could give you a less favorable outcome should they occur.
Many LASIK patients experience dry eyes after the procedure. Over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops can soothe the uncomfortable symptoms. Consult your LASIK surgeon as to which brand she recommends; however, using a drop containing no preservatives is most often preferred. Preservatives found in some over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops can cause irritation in postoperative LASIK patients.
Keep All Scheduled Appointments
Just as using your prescribed medications is important, keeping all your scheduled appointments with your LASIK surgeon or follow-up ophthalmologist will help ensure that you enjoy the best results. The physician will test your vision, monitor the healing process and treat any potential issues. It’s important that you ask any questions or bring up any unusual symptoms during these visits.
Although there are many things that you can do to ensure you have a positive LASIK outcome, these five things are among the most often recommended actions by surgeons. It’s important to keep in mind that, while LASIK is a common procedure, it’s still a surgery. Listening to the recommendations and orders of your physician is your best option to help you get the most out of LASIK.