How Long Does It Take To Recover From Laser Eye Surgery
Depending on the procedure, recovery times vary. Below is specific recovery information for each type of laser eye surgery: PRK, LASEK, ICL surgery, lens replacement surgery and cataract surgery.
Your vision should improve considerably within the first few days of surgery. Someone will have to drive you home after your procedure, but you should be able to return to work within 1-4 days.
You may have some short-term blurred vision, sensitivity to light, minor inflammation, and tearing. Follow-up appointments will be 1-2 days after surgery and periodically for a few months. While you will not notice symptoms, full healing of the flap takes six months up to two years.
Recovery from PRK takes a bit longer than LASIK, but blurred vision, irritation, tearing, inflammation, and light sensitivity should ease within 2-14 days. Most people return to work within a few days but are asked to rest for at least 2 days. Vision continues to improve over a period of months as the epithelium grows over the treatment area, thereby clearing the vision.
You may experience minor pain for a few days and require some mild pain medication. Bandage contact lenses are fitted in the eyes after surgery and removed in about 4 days during your second follow-up visit.
Since no flap is cut with PRK, it is recommended for athletes and people with very thin corneas. Because PRK removes the epithelium layer, recovery is more complex than after LASIK and requires more preparation before surgery, as well as more care afterward. With PRK, each eye is also treated separately about 12 weeks apart, so the recovery period must be experienced twice.
Recovery from LASEK takes 1-2 weeks with the vision improving gradually. Like PRK, bandage contact lenses are fitted in the eyes after surgery. Your first follow-up visit is the next day, and the bandage lenses are removed on your second visit in 3-4 days. Additional follow-up visits will be scheduled for a period of months.
Like PRK, you can expect blurred vision, irritation, tearing, swelling, and sensitivity to light for 2-14 days. Both eyes can be treated at the same time, and you can return to work within a few days. You will be asked to rest for at least 2 days, however. If you experience any minor post-surgical pain, you can take pain medications.
Recovery from ICL surgery is short. Vision improves within a day, and many people resume activities the same night.
You will be given protective eye wear to prevent you from rubbing your eyes in your sleep, and you will visit your surgeon the next day for a follow-up. Full results are achieved within the first week, and complete healing takes place within 1-2 months.
Lens Replacement Surgery
Eyesight improvement takes place within 1-2 days after lens replacement. Most people experience only mild temporary discomfort after this surgery and can return to work within 1-2 days. Follow-up visits will be scheduled for a period of months to monitor your progress.
Full recovery from cataract surgery requires about 1 month, but most symptoms subside within the first 2 weeks. The eyes are covered with an eye shield after surgery, and some blur and distorted vision can be expected the first day.
Vision often clears later the same day after surgery, and most people can return to work the next day. For others, it may take 1-2 weeks to achieve fully clear vision. A follow-up visit is usually scheduled the next day with subsequent exams for a period of months.
How Can You Recover Faster?
To speed up your recovery time, avoid complications, and improve your results, follow these general guidelines after most types of laser eye surgery:
- Bring someone with you to drive you home after your procedure, and bring sunglasses in case you experience temporary sensitivity to light.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. If you fail to follow every direction, you will increase your recovery time and possibly even cause an infection.
- After most laser eye surgery, you will be instructed to keep your eyes lubricated with eye drops. If a flap has been cut, as in the case of Lasik, for example, lubrication is imperative to keep the flap from becoming too dry. Lack of lubrication is one of the top causes of complications after surgery.
- While it is important to keep your eyes lubricated, excessive use of anesthetic or other types of drops can delay your recovery. If you’re unsure how often you should use the drops, don’t guess. Ask your doctor.
- It is essential that you do not rub your eyes for a period of time after your surgery. You will be told exactly how long you must avoid it, as this varies depending on the type of surgery. If you are given protective eyewear for sleeping, be sure to wear it. These eye guards will prevent you from rubbing your eyes unconsciously while you sleep. People who rub their eyes too soon often cause post-surgical complications.
- Since people experience varying degrees of blurred vision and irritation after laser eye surgery, you must use careful judgment as to when you can begin to drive. Obviously, avoid driving until you are confident that your vision is clear.
- Eye makeup must be avoided for a period of time after eye surgery. Using makeup could lead to eye irritation and even infection.
- Your surgeon may request that you not shower or wash your hair for a day or two to avoid getting chemicals in your eyes.
- You should be able to fly in an airplane within a day of most laser eye surgery, but the air on planes can cause increased dryness of the eyes.
- Avoid strenuous exercise and athletics after your surgery. The period of time will vary depending on the type of surgery, but your recovery will be impeded by beginning strenuous activities too soon.