How long will it take to recover?
Seeing clearly is an ability often taken for granted by those with visual freedom — but for those who aren’t afforded the same clarity of vision, there are modern laser eye surgery options. Advanced laser technology is used to modify the shape of the cornea, and thus, correct a host of refractive errors including myopia (short-sighted vision), hyperopia (long-sighted vision), astigmatism, and presbyopia.
If you’ve had your initial consultation, determined you’re a qualifying recipient, and have subsequently undergone this life changing procedure, you might still feel a little concerned about the road to recovery.
So what should you expect in the coming days and weeks? And what considerations will you need to take into account?
Will I be able to drive home after surgery?
The short answer? Definitely not.
As with any surgical procedure, it’s important to make preoperative arrangements before you undergo a PRK (ASLA), LASIK or SMILE correction. You will need to be escorted home after undergoing laser eye surgery. Depending on your procedure and eye condition, your eye doctor may also advise you to temporarily refrain from driving.
How long will it take before I start to see clearly?
Patient recovery timeframes will differ depending on the procedure and other individual factors.
Although most recipients enjoy visual freedom after laser treatment for eyes, recovery speed is determined by how well the patient heals and how much correction was required. Visual recovery for most laser eye surgery methods is usually swift, and postoperative outcomes are changeable on a patient-to-patient basis. More importantly, your recovery window will ultimately come down to the type of procedure your ophthalmologist has recommended for you.
With current advancements, there now are multiple laser eye surgery techniques available, each suited to different eye conditions. With a SMILE or LASIK procedure, rapid visual recovery is generally experienced, with some LASIK patients noticing improvements almost instantly. The general visual recovery window for SMILE is approximately two days. With a PRK (ASLA) procedure, visual acuity is achieved anywhere between two and six weeks, as the cells grow back and begin to smooth for clear vision.
Will there be any pain or discomfort after Laser Eye Surgery?
For most recipients, there is only minor pain or some discomfort — varying between each procedure.
Most modern laser vision correction methods are minimally invasive, but keep in mind you could experience some postoperative discomfort, light sensitivity, dryness or watery eyes depending on the type of procedure chosen by your eye specialist. Your eye surgeon will ensure the utmost precision of care to allow for a safe recovery with little or no downtime. Keep in mind the first few days can be burdensome for some patients; but the good news is you’ll soon enjoy the freedom of living without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
How much time will I need to take off work?
Each patient will recover at a different rate, so speak to your eye surgeon about when you can resume your usual activities.
Most people can return to work the next day or within a few days after their SMILE or LASIK vision correction, but you should follow any directions your ophthalmologist gives you as your recovery will depend on the type of surgery you receive as well as your current prescription. A PRK (ASLA) correction may necessitate more time off work.
What aftercare is needed?
Your eye surgeon will provide you with some individual guidelines to follow.
After your laser eye surgery, your ophthalmologist will provide you with an aftercare plan to alleviate any postoperative discomfort you may experience, and to procure the best visual outcome possible. Practicing proper aftercare and staying in a clean environment will reduce recovery time after laser eye surgery and avert potential problems.
Your eye doctor will likely limit wearing makeup for a short period following your corrective procedure to minimise the risk of complications such as infection. Drops may be recommended by your eye doctor to combat dry eyes and irritation, and you will need to refrain from rubbing your eyes or exposing them to direct sunlight during the initial healing stage.
Are there any activities I should I avoid after my procedure?
You will need to make some changes to your everyday routine after laser eye surgery.
It is imperative you follow any restrictions your eye specialist has advised, as protecting your eyes will be the fastest route to recovery. Although healing is quite rapid, precautions must be taken to ensure the utmost safety and restoration of eyesight.
Laser eye surgery can be somewhat attractive to those who lead busy, active lifestyles — but it’s important to be patient and know when to rest and recover, especially after surgery. Although laser vision correction may seem like a minor procedure, protecting your eyes from infection and injury as they recover will make all the difference for your vision and eye health.
Swimming is usually restricted in the first couple of weeks after surgery and engaging in any form of contact sport such as, martial arts, football and basketball will be restricted for approximately one month. The golden rule is to speak to your ophthalmologist if you’re unsure about any of your postoperative guidelines.
Is the procedure permanent — will my vision be corrected forever?
All laser eye surgery procedures are permanent.
Most patients will continue to enjoy visual freedom for the rest of their lives; it is only on rare occasions where a follow up is required. This is because the eye, much like any other organ, is subject to natural fluctuations over time, but such changes can be corrected by your eye specialist if and when they happen.
Laser eye surgery is a fast, effective and life changing procedure. Eye & Laser Centre offers a free laser vision assessment, where one of our expert eye specialists will determine which option is right for you. Call (07) 5555 0800 or fill out one of our online forms to book an appointment.
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific ophthalmic advice or assistance should consult their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Marcos, S., 2001. Aberrations and visual performance following standard laser vision correction. Journal of refractive surgery, 17(5), pp. S596-S601.
Ambrósio, R. and Wilson, S.E., 2003, January. LASIK vs LASEK vs PRK: advantages and indications. In Seminars in ophthalmology (Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 2-10). Taylor & Francis.