The benefits of LASIK surgery seem too good to pass up, but the word surgery is making you hesitate. Getting surgery usually implies that there is a significant loss of time from work and even painful side effects.
So, what is the LASIK recovery process like? Are there painful side effects? Is undergoing LASIK surgery worth it?
The LASIK Process
LASIK is a non-invasive, low-risk procedure, so recovery is typically minimal. You’re awake during the procedure, and you may even be fully recovered by the next day.
How does it work? LASIK seeks to help light better focus on your retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eyeball that triggers nerve impulses, leading to the creation of a visual image. Simply put, the surgeon uses a laser to reshape your cornea (the transparent layer at the front of your eye) so that light focuses better on your retina.
You will be asked to stop wearing contact lenses for a time before the procedure, but that’s about all you need to do to prepare. You do not need to fast or take special medications. Just make sure you’re not wearing eye makeup or contacts when you arrive for the procedure.
Here’s a basic rundown of the process:
1. The surgeon provides numbing eye drops and may give you medication to help you relax.
2. Your eye is positioned under the laser, with a special instrument keeping your eyelids open and a suction ring preventing eye movement.
3. You look at a target light as the surgeon uses a laser to create a flap in your cornea.
4. The surgeon folds back the flap and uses a specialized laser to remove tissue from the cornea and reshape it (he or she will flatten the cornea for nearsighted people, create a steeper cornea for farsighted people, and smooth the cornea to correct astigmatism).
5. The surgeon lays the flap back in place and covers the area where the tissue was removed.
The process takes about 5 minutes per eye.
The LASIK Recovery Process
Because the procedure is so simple and does not use strong medication, the recovery process is nothing to worry about. You can return home soon after the procedure is over (you should have someone drive you).
You might temporarily experience:
- Eye burning or itching
- Blurry vision
But, other than that, side effects should be minimal.
You will usually see your eye doctor or surgeon the next day to make sure you can legally drive. Within a few days, your vision should stabilize. You may even be able to return to work the day after your procedure!
As you recover from LASIK, remember to:
- Refrain from strenuous exercise for the first few days
- Take prescribed medication
- Avoid rubbing your eye
- Refrain from taking a shower until the day after the surgery
- Avoid getting products like hair spray, soap, and shaving lotion in your eyes
- Wear the prescribed eye shield for the first seven nights after surgery
- Avoid getting water in your eyes; avoid swimming pools for 14 days after surgery
- Refrain from using eye makeup for a week after surgery
- Use eye protection while playing sports for the first month
- Wear sunglasses while outdoors
Note that some people may still need to wear glasses or contacts after LASIK.
What If Something Goes Wrong?
It may be possible that you continue to see a glare or halos around images, experience fluctuating vision, or suffer from dry eyes for a couple of days after LASIK.
In extremely rare cases, something you do (such as rub your eye) may damage the LASIK improvements made, or you may experience pain, vision decrease, or infection. If this occurs, talk to your surgeon. You may need to have a touch up LASIK procedure.
Am I a Candidate for LASIK?
The following questions will help you know if you are a candidate for LASIK:
- Are you at least 18 years old?
- Are you in good health?
- Are you free from taking medications that affect your immune system?
- Are you free of eye diseases?
- Are you free of eye infections or injuries?
- Do you have stable vision?
Doctors also want to know any eye problems you may have as well as physical or mental health conditions. Pregnant or nursing women should not undergo LASIK.
For most people, LASIK is a virtually pain-free procedure and does not interrupt daily life. Plus, it restores vision to the desired level for about 96% of patients. If you are interested in LASIK, speak with your eye doctor, or direct your questions to us at 1 (888) EYE-CNTR.