How soon after laser eye treatment can I swim?

plying sport after laser eye surgery

You’re told one of the most important things you can do after Laser Eye Surgery is to prevent your eyes from drying out.

So you do as instructed and refrain from using your tablet or phone, reading, and watching TV, and staring into the sun, for at least 24 hours, and get into the habit of routinely using lubricating drops.

You also hold off jumping in aeroplane cabin that’s void of pretty much all moisture and commit to taking a night off the booze. If you’re about to jet off back home or away on a long-haul flight, you may even be advised some gel and advice for keeping yourself occupied without a nice glass of wine or beer.

The point is you do everything you can to keep your eyes nice and moist and comfortable. And with that being the case, you wouldn’t be crazy in thinking that rushing back to the pool or sea for a nice dip would be like heaven for them.

Sadly, however, this isn’t the case.

Keeping your eyes moist after Laser Eye Surgery

Lubricated eye drops contain a specific set of ingredients that mimic the eye’s natural tear film. It is because of this precise mix and the resulting properties that they’re able to reduce the symptoms of dry eye and help safeguard against things like itching, irritation, injuries, and infections.

That means although eye drops may look similar to other clear liquids, they’re far from the same as plain old water. And water is, in fact, anything from plain old itself — often containing many substances and contaminants such as chlorine, pesticides, arsenic, microorganisms, and minerals.

When it comes to public or private swimming holes, we don’t need to tell you which of the above they’re more likely to contain. If you want to pick up an eye infection, there’s few better places to go than your local swimming pool.

The reason for this isn’t just because of the bacteria and viruses that may be swimming around in there with you and lurking around the surrounding areas. Chlorine and other chemicals that are used to keep the water clean are particularly harsh on the eye’s protective and lubricating tear film. So much so that people who swim often are at risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

But it’s not like swimming should be thought of as something that’s harmful for your eyes. The reality is when recovering from Laser Eye Surgery, your eyes are more sensitive than usual, so even tap water touching your eyes can be bothersome in the first week.

It’s one of the main reasons why it’s recommended to take a bath instead of a shower until at least 24 hours after surgery. And why it’s recommended that swimming, saunas, whirlpools, and lakes, are not something you should rush straight back into.

So when can I swim after Laser Eye Surgery?

With all that being said, after having Laser Eye Surgery, you won’t be too long away from your favourite watery activity of choice.

The first to return is showering, which you can typically get back to within a few days after Laser Eye Surgery — generally by day two or three. By this time, many activities or exercises that don’t affect your eyes, such as lifting weights and using a stationary bike or treadmill, are also perfectly safe.

It is in the second week following Laser Eye Surgery that you’re able to introduce more physical sports back into your life, including racquet sports such as squash, tennis, and badminton (with eye protection), as well as things like football, sailing, and mountain biking.

Most patients who have LASIK can return to swimming (with goggles) by week two. If you have ReLEx SMILE, you may be able to return to other activities, including swimming, much, much sooner.

Have a question about Laser Eye Surgery? Ask us in the comments below or visit our section on recovery to find out more. To speak directly with a Laser Eye Surgery expert call us on 020 7224 1005.