What is the Laser Eye Surgery recovery time?

Recovery process after Laser Eye Surgery

Most of the time when we hear the word “surgery” one of the first things that come to mind is a long, tedious recovery process.

Images of spending days if not weeks or months in bed, missing important events of family or friends, and falling behind on critical projects at work seep into our minds.

Thankfully in the case of Laser Eye Surgery, this slightly dramatised idea couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, as soon as you sit up after the short 5-15 minute procedure your eyes will have already started healing, and in just a matter of days, you’ll be well on your way to making a full recovery.

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As the first step towards recovery, the body responds with a predictable inflammatory response—otherwise known as swelling. This is the body sending fluid and white blood cells to the areas that need them to accelerate the healing process.

Following Laser Eye Surgery, the Cornea experiences slight swelling. This can cause your vision to appear a tad foggy or blurry immediately after surgery, although you will be able to notice your vision is more in focus.

This response is completely expected, and the swelling of the cornea and the slight blur of your vision usually settles down within just 24 hours. By this time you’ll have surpassed the biggest step in your recovery, and will be attending your first of several aftercare check-ups and easing back into your normal day-to-day routine.

Getting back to normal activity after Laser Eye Surgery

After Laser Eye Surgery you’re not going to have much time to binge watch your favourite TV series for the sixth time. In fact, to promote a speedy recovery, it’s recommended to avoid screens—TV’s, smartphones, tablets, computers—at least for the first day.

This period is likely the only time you’ll need to take a back seat and get some rest. By taking a back seat we mean coaxing a friend or family member into driving you home from the clinic, and on any other journeys, you need to make that day (if this isn’t possible overground trains are recommended). You cannot take the underground getting home after surgery or coming into your one-day post-operative visit. It is usually at this visit that the surgeon signs you off to resume all public transport.

The majority of patients are back driving the following day, which is handy as it’s likely that by this time you’ll be fit to return to work. It’s important to note however that starbursts and halos around lights and some blurriness and fluctuation in vision is to be expected for several weeks, so extra care is necessary when driving—particularly at night.

These symptoms gradually disappear over the next few weeks and will be kept an eye on at your 1-3 week aftercare examinations.

Laser Eye Surgery recovery in the workplace

Swiftly getting back to work is generally not an issue for most patients. However when you are there, there are a few small things to bear in mind depending on the environment you work in.

As we mentioned, staring at screens for prolonged periods of time can disrupt your vision. This is simply because—along with things like air conditioning—it can dry out your eyes. If either of these are part of your working day, then it’s advised to keep your eyes well lubricated with artificial tears.

Extra care is also necessary if you work for example on a construction site, where there’s a heightened risk of dust or debris entering the eye. Safety glasses and other adequate precautions need to be taken to avoid this from happening and causing irritation or any unnecessary complications.

Making a complete recovery after Laser Eye Surgery

Normally around the third day following surgery the tissue of the corneal flap made during a standard LASIK procedure has started to strengthen. That means you can hit the gym and start doing some light exercise.

Some examples of exercise you can do include jogging, stationary cycling, and lifting small weights. As the cornea is still in recovery mode, it’s important not to allow any sweat to run into your eyes, and to avoiding rubbing them for the first two weeks.

By the second week, the tissue of the cornea will have healed further, making it safe to take part in sports such as tennis, squash, swimming, mountain biking, and skiing (while wearing the appropriate eye-wear). Physical and high-impact sports like boxing, martial arts, and water-skiing, are to be avoided until at least one month after LASIK surgery. Always seek guidance from your surgeon regarding whether it is safe to resume certain activities.

As you get used to your new life of greater vision, you’ll have another few aftercare check ups at three months, six months, and twelve-month marks, to ensure everything is going smoothly. The cornea takes around six months to return to its full pre-operative strength, and thus most patients will have completely clear and stable vision by the time of their penultimate aftercare appointment.

If you’d like to book a consultation at London Vision Clinic, or find out more about recovery after Laser Eye Surgery, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.

For 2017, we have updated this article to ‘Quick guide: Laser Eye Surgery recovery’

What is the Laser Eye Surgery recovery time?