What To Expect After Laser Eye Surgery: The "Post-Operative" Period
Note: This page covers the recovery period for the LASIK procedure. Expect your recovery time (i.e. clarity of vision and discomfort) to be considerably longer if you have undergone the PRK procedure. See "types of laser eye surgery" for more details.
Congatulations on successfully completing your laser eye surgery procedure! You will be given important instructions during your "post-operative" exam; it is extremely important that you follow these instructions exactly. Here's what to expect immediately following your procedure:
The doctor will go over your post-operative instructions, some of which include:
1. Take naps as much as possible.
2. Use over the counter medications for any pain you may experience.
3. Use sunglasses, indoors and out, for any light sensitivity. It is normal to be light sensitive (photophobic) for the first few days.
4. Try sleeping with eye shields on for the first few nights, to avoid accidentally rubbing your cornea (this might cause wrinkles in the flap).
5. Instructions on when to use the antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, and artificial tears eye drops that are provided to you. You will experience dry eyes over the next few days and possibly weeks, but this is normal.
6. The most important instruction you will receive is to not rub your eyes. The corneal flap begins to adhere immediately, but a strong enough force can dislodge the flap.
You will now receive an appointment for the next day for a second post-op exam, and are free to go home. It's a good idea to have someone else drive you home, most clinics will insist upon it.
While You're At Home:
When the anesthetic eye drops have worn off, you may feel some discomfort (scratchy or burning sensation) for two to three hours. This is normal. You may find lying in a quiet and dark room soothing.
Try taking a tylenol or advil for the pain, and taking a nap. Sleep is very important, and helps in the healing process. After your first nap you will probably notice your vision getting clearer and clearer.
Within twenty four hours your vision should be considerably clearer. In fact, you will be seeing better than you have in years. Do not be surprised though, if your vision is not perfect yet, and if it fluctuates over the next few days and weeks. This is normal.
The Next Day:
During your first post-op exam, the doctor will again check the flap for wrinkles or abnormalities. He or she will also check for any debris under the flap, and/or any sign of infection. As you were given antibiotic drops before, during, and after the surgery, this should not be a problem. You will most likely be asked to return for further exams after one week, one month, three months, six months, and one year.
Don't Be Shy!
This is very important. If you experience any problems, no matter how insignificant you think they might be, make an appointment with your doctor! Many small problems that occur after laser eye surgery are easily corrected. If left untreated though, minor problems can become major ones. So don't be shy and call your doctor!
First, you will be shown to the patient waiting area, and asked to close your eyes and rest for about 15 minutes. After resting, you will be taken to the examination room, where a member of the staff will examine your cornea to make sure the flap is properly in place.
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