If you’ve been dealing with glasses and/or contacts for years, you’re probably looking forward to having LASIK. However, you may have questions about what you can and cannot do and how you should protect your “new” eyes after your LASIK procedure. Once your LASIK surgeon, Dr. Mozayeni or Dr. Nunnery, completes your LASIK eye surgery, the healing process is not completed the same day - your corneas will continue to heal over the next several weeks, and proper LASIK aftercare is critical to avoiding infection and having an optimal result.
Discover the basics of LASIK aftercare, such as how to take required medications and how to complete daily activities like showering after LASIK to ensure your eyes have the proper time to heal.
Taking Care of Your Eyes Post-LASIK: Water Exposure
Showering After LASIK
Dr. Mozayeni and Dr. Nunnery advise patients that it is okay to bathe or shower normally the day after LASIK eye surgery. Yet, for the first week after your LASIK surgery, it’s important to keep water, soap, hair care products and/or washing liquids away from the eye. Do not rub your eyes while bathing or showering after LASIK.
If water, soap, shampoo, and/or similar washing materials are not kept out of the eye for the 7-day post-op period, patients could:
- Run the risk of infection with soap, water, shampoo, etc. in the eyes.
- Experience burning and irritation.
- Rub the eyes and wrinkle the corneal flap made during the procedure.
- Accidentally exacerbate or begin experiencing dry eye symptoms.
Other Water Exposure & Swimming After LASIK
Particularly during the summer months, patients want to know when they can return to the pool, hot tub, ocean or lake after LASIK eye surgery. At Providence Eye, we advise our LASIK eye surgery patients to wait for 14 days before returning to these activities to ensure optimal LASIK aftercare and healing. Due to the chemicals in chlorinated water and the particles found in salt and freshwater bodies, irritation, redness and corneal tissue infection is a high possibility immediately after LASIK eye surgery. Interactions with these bodies of water can slow the healing process or cause post-op damage.
Returning to Daily Activities After LASIK
As patients quickly regain their ability to perform everyday activities the day after LASIK eye surgery, it is important to remember that even though you will likely not experience any pain, your corneal tissue takes time to completely heal. To minimize chances for corneal infections or flap dislodging, Dr. Nunnery and Dr. Mozayeni instruct post-op patients to wait the recommended amount of time to do the following:
1. Applying Makeup and Eye Creams: One Week After LASIK
- Wait 7 days after LASIK eye surgery to apply any eye makeup including eye cream, eyeliner (kajal or kohl eyeliner), mascara or eye shadow. When applying other facial makeup, it is important that you do not rub near your eye, ensuring powders such as toners, foundations or blush don't get into the eye.
- Generally, it is a good idea to purchase new eye makeup to wear after your LASIK surgery, as this will minimize any risk of infection.
- Please take extreme caution when removing your makeup after LASIK. Be careful not to use force on your eye or rub excessively when removing eye makeup, as this can harm the flap that was created.
2. Exercise: One Day to Two Weeks
- You may begin to exercise in your home or outside 2 days after your LASIK eye surgery.
- Our surgeons recommend avoiding public gyms for 5 days after your LASIK eye surgery, as there is an increased risk of infection.
- Swimming exercises and other workouts involving chlorinated, salt or freshwater areas should be avoided for 2 weeks.
- Protective eyewear should be worn with any contact sports or racquet sports such as tennis, racquetball and squash for four weeks after LASIK. This allows individuals to play their favorite sports while maximizing eye protection.
3. Work and Using a Computer: One Day
- The vast majority of people can return to work the day following their LASIK eye surgery. At Providence Eye, we advise patients to purchase over-the-counter preservative-free lubricating drops in individual vials that can be used for several weeks during the LASIK post-op period. When returning to work it is important to make time to keep up with both prescribed and over-the-counter lubricating drops. By following instructions for drops, you will shorten the healing time, maximize comfort and improve your post-op work productivity.
- If your job includes frequent computer use, try to blink more often – studies show people tend to blink half as often as they normally do when they are using a computer. You can also increase your use of lubricating drops if you feel like your eyes are dry or your vision seems foggy. Eyes can be dry even though they don’t feel dry to you. Additionally, it is important for you to change your focus every 20 minutes. We suggest you put a reminder on your calendar to stand up and focus on something that is farther away for 30 seconds to one full minute. This will help your eyes slowly adjust back to heavy computer screen use and keep your eyes lubricated throughout the day using your over-the-counter preservative-free lubricating drops.
4. Outdoor Work: Two Weeks
Our LASIK surgeons advise their post-op patients to avoid dust, smoke, mold and work in the yard, barn, attic, basement or crawl space for 14 days. This helps ensure that:
- Small or large outdoor particles do not enter the eye and increase the risk of infection, eye rubbing or dislodging the flap accidentally.
- Smoke, dust, dirt and yardwork/gardening particles can aggravate post-operative corneal tissue and become lodged in the corneal flap, causing discomfort and potential infection.
If you do happen to get dust or dirt into your eye within the one-week timeframe after your LASIK surgery, rinse your eyes with the preservative-free lubricating drops you purchased prior to your surgery. Call your LASIK surgeon to discuss the situation if your eyes remain irritated.
5. Sleep, Children & Pets: One to 14 Days (depending on your specific situation)
- Upon completion of your LASIK eye surgery, your surgeon will tape clear plastic shields over your eyes to ensure they are protected from irritants, bumps and rubbing. You will wear these for 24 hours except when you are instilling eye drops.
- At Providence Eye, we instruct patients to wear protective shields for 5 nights following their surgery in case the patient rolls over onto their face or unconsciously rubs their eyes while sleeping.
- We highly suggest the wearing of protective plastic shields for 10-14 nights when animals or children are allowed to sleep in the bed. We also highly suggest minimizing interactions with pets and children that involve chances for facial contact for up to a full week after LASIK surgery, so sudden pokes, jabs and bumps do not occur.
- Avoid using a ceiling fan while sleeping, as this will make your eyes dry resulting in discomfort and occasionally blurry vision.
Taking Medications After LASIK
To initiate faster healing times and decrease dryness and the chance of infection, we send all of our post-op patients home with specific instructions on how to use their prescription eye drops. These instructions are put into place to ensure your corneal tissue experiences the least amount of post-op inflammation and dry eye. By using the prescribed medications you will not only ease any discomfort but also sleep more soundly and keep from rubbing your eye(s), which runs the risk of dislodging your healing corneal flap.
Preservative-Free Lubricating Drops in Individual Vials:
- Over-the-counter drops that help relieve any dry eye or and general discomfort
- Pro-Tip: Keep them in the refrigerator for extra cooling relief.
- Keep eyes moist while ensuring the fastest healing cycle possible.
- Acts as a “moisturizer” for the eye - even when the eyes don’t feel dry, they may be.
- Inflammation-relieving eye drops reduce swelling and irritation in the ocular cavity after LASIK eye surgery.
- Utilizing these drops according to your surgeon's specific instructions ensures fast recovery and reduces inflamed corneal tissue, as the tissue heals faster and poses a lower risk for post-op corneal infections.
- Prescription-strength eye drops prevent eye infections and minimize post-op inflammation.
Taking Regular Prescriptions Outside of LASIK:
- All medications, both over the counter and prescription, should be reviewed with your LASIK surgeon, Dr. Mozayeni or Dr. Nunnery, prior to your LASIK eye surgery. This is important as certain medications can increase ocular dryness and cause other LASIK complications. If necessary, your LASIK surgeon will consult with your primary care physician to properly manage any non-procedural-related prescription medications.