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Recovering From Laser Eye Surgery

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Laser Eye Surgery Laser Eye Surgery

For the purpose of this article, it will examine the post-operative recovery process of LASIK surgery which is the most commonly performed method of laser eye surgery. However, it’s important to seek guidance about possible alternative treatments first as there are different procedures both within laser eye surgery itself and with refractive surgery which is related but not the same.

What is LASIK?

LASIK stands for ‘laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis’. It has been proven to be a successful procedure in the surgical treatment of conditions such as astigmatism, short-sightedness and certain forms of long-sightedness since its introduction to the UK in 1995. It works by using a laser controlled by a computer to correct the shape of the cornea with the aim of being to eliminate the need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

Immediately Following The Procedure

After LASIK surgery has been performed, the affected eye(s) will be covered with a protective pad for around 24 hours. Although you might feel some slight discomfort, any pain should be minimal although you’ll be given general painkillers should it be more severe.

Once the eye pad has been removed, you may experience blurred vision initially but this should diminish over a day or two and you’ll usually find that your eyesight becomes fully stable within around a month. You’ll be given eye drops and instructions of how to use them to reduce the risk of infection before you’re discharged and these will also assist with the healing process.

It’s often a good idea to wear a pair of sunglasses upon your discharge from hospital as, initially, your eyes might be extremely sensitive to sunlight and you should get someone else to drive you home. In fact, if you’ve had both eyes operated on, it’s a good idea to ensure that there’s someone with you at home for the first couple of days.

Recovering At Home

There are a few basic dos and don’ts over the first few days once you’ve returned home following LASIK surgery. It’s important to keep water away from your eyes so you should take a bath as opposed to a shower and make sure that you don’t get shampoo or soap in your eyes. In fact, to reduce the risk, it’s better to avoid shampooing your hair for the first few days.

You should avoid screwing your eyes up and don’t rub or touch them. Even wearing sunglasses in the house, though it might seem odd, is often a good way to keep anything out of your eyes including the temptation to rub them which you’re less likely to do subconsciously, if you are wearing sunglasses.

You should not wear eye make-up and avoid any contact sports, swimming and other sports and activities which could be potentially dangerous, e.g. tennis or squash, for at least a month after the procedure.

Resuming Everyday Activities

Depending upon the nature of your employment, you can often return to work within 2 to 3 days of surgery. However, some jobs may present more risks to your eyes than others so you should always seek advice from your surgeon first. Equally, with driving, follow the guidelines you are given. After about a month post-surgery, you should be able to resume all of your everyday activities.


There is often confusion between LASIK and LASEK surgery amongst those considering laser eye surgery. LASEK (with an ‘E’ not an ‘I’) is the latest advancement and it stands for ‘laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis. It’s been devised for those who are unable to undergo LASIK surgery because the cornea is either too flat or too thin. And, although the main benefit of LASEK over LASIK is that no incision is required into the cornea, LASIK surgery has a shorter and more comfortable recovery period which is why it’s still the most commonly used laser eye surgery treatment.

There are other forms of related surgery too. These include PRK, PARK and H-PRK. However, whilst all of these abbreviations can seem confusing, the hospital treating you will be able to give you the best advice on what procedure would be best for you personally.

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