For those seeking better vision through LASIK eye surgery, a common question is, “How long is the LASIK recovery time?” Knowing what to expect can help you feel prepared and have peace of mind on the day of your procedure. At Providence Eye & Laser Specialists, we want you to know what to expect so you can have a smooth healing process.

LASIK Recovery Time: First 4 Hours

Following your procedure, clear plastic shields will be taped over your eyes to prevent you from itching or rubbing them. It is normal and expected to feel some discomfort during the first four hours of your LASIK recovery time, such as burning, tearing, itching and/or light sensitivity. We instruct you to sleep for those four hours immediately after your surgery, and we will offer you a light sedative before you go home. After waking up, leave your clear eye shields on (except when instilling your drops) until the following morning. Be sure to administer your prescribed eye drops and use preservative-free lubricating drops from individual vials as directed by your LASIK surgeon.

LASIK Recovery Time: First 24 Hours

The next 20 hours of your LASIK recovery time are an important window for your cornea to begin healing. As this happens, you will likely experience significant improvement in your vision. The higher your original prescription, the quicker you will begin seeing results. Take this time to rest, keep your eyes lubricated based on your surgeon’s instructions and keep the protective shields on to protect your eyes. Some activities you can do during this time are:

  • Watch TV
  • Eat a meal
  • Read a book
  • Relax with family and friends either indoors or outdoors
  • Bathe or shower normally the morning after your procedure
  • Physical activity as approved after your first post-operative appointment

The morning after your procedure, you will remove the shields and replace them with post-operative sunglasses that are provided to you. You may also use your own sunglasses.

Your first post-op appointment with your surgeon will take place the morning after your LASIK surgery, where Dr. Mozayeni or Dr. Nunnery will check your vision and ensure your corneas are healing properly. If necessary, they will provide additional recovery instructions, but in most circumstances, you will be cleared to drive and resume your normal daily activities.

LASIK Recovery Time: First 2 Weeks

For the first five nights after your procedure, you will continue wearing the eye shields when sleeping. If you allow pets or children in your bed, wear your shields for ten nights and take extra care to ensure the shields are secure on your eyes. Administer antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops as directed by your LASIK eye surgeon, in addition to preservative-free lubricating drops from individual vials. The number of eye drops needed will taper over time. You may also experience red spots in the white part of your eyes, which is perfectly normal, and will fade over the next seven to 14 days.

Two days after your surgery, you may begin exercising. Make sure to use eye protection if playing sports, and avoid public gyms for five days following your procedure for hygiene purposes. Additionally, refrain from wearing eye makeup for the first seven days of your LASIK recovery period.

As you continue healing, be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions, including but not limited to:

  • Keep soap and water out of the eyes for seven days
  • Refraining from itching and rubbing your eyes
  • No swimming in pools, hot tubs, lakes or oceans
  • Avoid dust, smoke, dirty or dusty environments and yard work
  • Take frequent breaks from your computer screen
  • Lubricate your eyes frequently with preservative-free lubricating drops from individual vials
  • Do not use a ceiling fan while sleeping

LASIK Recovery Time: This First 12 Months

Throughout the first year of your LASIK recovery journey, continue using preservative-free lubricating drops as you feel necessary, as most patients’ tear production will return to its normal baseline within four to six weeks. We recommend using brand-name drops, such as Systane, Refresh Optive, GenTeal or TheraTears. For the first four weeks, individual vials should be used exclusively; then, it is fine to switch to a bottle form. For optimal recovery, use increased caution when participating in activities that risk physical impact to the eye, including carrying small children, handling pets, playing contact sports or doing yard work.

At Providence Eye & Laser Specialists, we recommend four to five post-op visits over the first 12 months of your LASIK recovery time, followed by annual eye exams with your preferred optometrist. While it is normal to notice some fluctuation in vision over this time, call your LASIK eye surgeon immediately if you become concerned about your vision or experience unusual pain in your eyes, flashes of light or sudden loss of vision.

Check out this graphic to better understand what to expect during the LASIK recovery time:

What to Expect After LASIK Eye Surgery

With LASIK eye surgery, every patient’s recovery time may look different. Rest assured that there is no need to take a long break from your daily routine. Simply follow these best practices for your LASIK recovery time and attend regular post-opt appointments with your surgeon. After the first couple of weeks, you should have results you can enjoy for years to come! It’s time to see if you are a candidate for LASIK. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation at Providence Eye!

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