Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK): What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Cross section of the eye

Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is surgery to improve your vision. The doctor used surgical tools to keep your eye open and to apply pressure to the outside layer of your eyeball (cornea). The doctor used a special blade or laser to cut a flap in your cornea. Another laser was used to remove or reshape your eye tissue. Then the doctor put the flap back, added drops to your eye, and placed a clear, protective shield over your eye.

Your eye may burn, itch, be teary, or feel like there is something in it for 3 or 4 days after surgery. But it is important not to rub your eye. Rubbing your eye could damage it.

You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine 1 to 3 days after surgery. For a few days, you may have blurry vision or watery eyes. Your eyes may be bloodshot for up to 3 weeks. This is because LASIK surgery can cause small blood vessels in your eye to break. Some people also find that they are sensitive to light or see starbursts or halos for 1 to 3 weeks after surgery.

If you have eye pain, your doctor may prescribe drops or medicines. You can expect your eye to get better each day, but it may feel dry for 1 to 3 months after surgery. Over-the-counter or prescription eyedrops can help with dryness.

For some people, it takes 3 to 6 months to get the full benefits of surgery and to see as clearly as possible.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Ask your doctor when it is okay to drive.
  • Your doctor may advise you to sleep when you get home from surgery. Keeping your eye closed may help it heal.
  • Wear your eye shield at night for up to 2 weeks.
  • You can shower or wash your hair the day after surgery. Keep water, soap, shampoo, hair spray, and shaving lotion out of your eye, especially for the first week.
  • Do not rub or put pressure on your eye for at least 1 week.
  • For 1 week, do not wear eye makeup. You may also want to avoid face cream or lotion.
  • Wait at least 10 days after surgery to get your hair coloured or permed.
  • You can exercise as long as you do not get sweat in your eyes. Avoid contact sports, such as boxing or football, for 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. If you return to playing contact sports, consider wearing goggles or other eye protection.
  • For 1 to 2 weeks, avoid swimming, hot tubs, gardening, and dusting.
  • Wear sunglasses on bright days for at least 1 year after surgery.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for when to use eyedrops. Always wash your hands before you put your drops in. To put in eyedrops:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for taking pain medicines.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pus draining from your eye.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your vision suddenly gets worse.
  • You have eye pain for more than 3 or 4 days.
  • Your eyes are bloodshot for more than 3 weeks.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 23, 2016