If you’re considering undergoing a vision correction surgery in the future, you may be wondering what kind of recovery time you can expect. While the recovery period varies, depending on the procedure that is performed, most patients are generally back to everyday life very quickly, but with their vision fully restored.

LASIK is one of the most commonly used vision correction procedures. LASIK takes just a few minutes per eye and can treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. If you have any of these vision issues, you may be a candidate.

For those still in the research phase, here’s what you need to know about LASIK recovery time and aftercare so that you know what to expect after undergoing the procedure.

LASIK Recovery Time

One of the greatest benefits of the LASIK procedure is that patients experience a return to full vision almost immediately after surgery. However, there may be some haziness that lasts for the first four to six hours post-op.

You may also experience some very mild discomfort. While you won’t be in any pain, you’re more likely to feel like something is in your eye, which is more of a nuisance than a discomfort. Once swelling around the corneal flap and the dryness of the surface cells decreases, all of these side effects dissipate and you’ll get to enjoy your full vision again.

Most patients are able to drive themselves to post-op visits, with many returning to work the day after their first follow-up visit.

Understanding the LASIK Healing Process

Healing is pretty quick for most patients who have undergone the LASIK procedure, but there are certain precautions that should be taken. After the procedure, the cornea begins to heal almost immediately. In fact, the flap sticks back into the cornea within less than a minute. This means that blinking won’t move the flap.

Negative stromal swelling pressure of the cornea pumps water from the outside of the cornea to the inside of the eye. This keeps the cornea clear while also sticking the flap back on the underlying corneal stroma. The process is very similar to sticking your hand over a vacuum hose that’s turned on. The pull of the vacuum will keep your hand in place.

The incision made at the edge of the flap heals within the first three to four hours after LASIK eye surgery. Stromal healing, which is the reattachment of the cornea and the flap, begins within the first few weeks and can take six to twelve months to maximize.

During this period of healing, patients should avoid:

  • Excessive rubbing of the eyes
  • Putting direct pressure on their eyes
  • Not using eye protection from the sun

The first two to four weeks are the most critical. During this time, if pressure is put on the flap and then dislocates it, the flap can become wrinkled, which will cause vision issues. The good news is that this can be easily fixed by irrigating under the flap to smooth it back out.

Aftercare and Safety Guidelines

Everyone heals differently, but all patients should follow the same aftercare and safety guidelines to protect their eyes after LASIK surgery. Some of the most important precautions to take include:

  • Avoiding getting dust or sweat in the eye for the first 48 hours post-op
  • No swimming or hot tubs
  • No opening the eyes while showering for at least one week post-op
  • No makeup for three days after surgery
  • Wear a face shield or eye shields when sleeping for at least one week. Shields must be worn for four weeks for stomach and side sleepers
  • No putting pressure on the eye

By taking these precautions, you can avoid the risk of dislocating the flap and undoing the benefits of the procedure. Always check in with your LASIK surgeon if you have any questions or concerns about whether something may cause an issue.

When to Expect Full Recovery from LASIK

After undergoing LASIK, you will notice a significant improvement in your vision almost immediately. However, it’s important to note that LASIK recovery is an ongoing process. While your vision may be much improved, the incisions made often take three to six months to fully heal and stabilize.

Because it can take months for a full recovery, it’s important to schedule regular checkups with your eye doctor for a thorough evaluation. Your doctor will test your vision and will look at your eye to ensure that it’s healing properly.

Is LASIK Right for Me?

Though LASIK seems like a procedure that can work for all patients, not everyone is a viable candidate for this vision correction surgery. It’s best to meet with a qualified LASIK surgeon and ophthalmologist who can determine the best option for you.

Eyeglasses on the eye chart background.

For example, this procedure isn’t ideal for someone who already has chronic dry eye or for someone who is likely to receive direct blows to the eye. Patients must also be 18 years or older, must have achieved ocular maturity, and must have a stable prescription for two consecutive years.

Patients who have systemic or ocular disease, such as cataracts, diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, are also not good candidates for LASIK. Those with overly thin or misshapen corneas may also require a different type of vision correction procedure.

Instead of making the decision on your own, the best thing you can do is to contact a local eye care professional who can analyze your vision and look at your eye health history to determine if LASIK is a viable option for you.

If you live in Los Angeles county or the surrounding area, contact Dougherty Laser Vision! Dr. Dougherty has performed tens of thousands of vision correction procedures, so you know you’ll be in good, qualified hands. Contact our office today at (805) 987-5300 to schedule an appointment.