Now the irony of this blog is that I tell all of my LASIK patients 'do not read a blog and expect to follow that person's daily schedule of recovery'. There are just too many factors: Your prescription going into LASIK, your age, where you live, how your body heals, the type of procedure you are having. Another huge factor is your perception of 'recovered'. We have patients rattle off 20/20 without effort who do not feel that their vision has fully recovered and others who think their vision was perfect from day one even though there was substantial recovery ahead of them.
So rather than tell you the day-by-day calendar of recovery for one patient, we are going to discuss the overall expectations of recovery for someone who has bladeless iLASIK in a dry climate like Idaho.
Immediately following bladeless, Intralase iLASIK, most people notice an immediate improvement in vision. As the eyes heal, it is normal to experience fluctuating and less than perfect vision during the recovery period. Everyone's eyes heal differently (and a person's perception of 'good' vision is highly variable). Some people's recovery from bladeless iLASIK is quick and uneventful. Other people experience some degree of discomfort, dryness, sensitivity to light, blurred or fluctuating vision, glare, halos and poor night vision. These symptoms are completely normal and vary based on each individual's specific case. The trend for everyone: things should get better with time.
Following any LASIK procedure, the two most common post-operative symptoms are:
Temporary Vision Fluctuations
Any surgical procedure causes temporary swelling – and iLASIK is no different. Following LASIK, inflammation of the cornea (also called corneal edema) can cause changes in your vision. Some people experience blurred vision, others experience halos or shadowing. This is a normal response of your healing cornea and is expected to improve with time.
Temporary Dryness and Irritation
In order to perform LASIK, the surgeon must disrupt the corneal nerves responsible for keeping the cornea moist. The end result is temporary dryness and irritation of the cornea. The signal that your eye is dry is not reliably sent to the brain. Therefore, your eyes will be dry (causing them to be red and your vision to be blurry) but you may not perceive a feeling of dryness. Your corneal nerves typically regenerate over a period of one to twelve months following LASIK. As recovery occurs, you will notice reduced dry eye symptoms, glare, halos, light sensitivity and blurred vision.
As with any surgical procedure, it is important to carefully follow all post-operative instructions from your doctor. Here are a few tips to make your recover as smooth and quick as possible.
Go home and rest, preferably take a nap, following your procedure
Be diligent about using the prescribed medicated eye drops
Be diligent about using preservative-free artificial tears. Your eye is happy when it is wet so use those preservative free artificial tears to keep your eyes happy and your vision clear.
Do not drive until your doctor has cleared you to do so
Do not rub your eyes
Wear eye shields at night as instructed by your doctor
Avoid using creams, lotions or make-up round your eyes until your doctor clears you to do so
Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing polarized sunglasses when outside (even on overcast days)
Keep all of your post-operative appointments with your doctor, even if you and your eyes feel great
So what is recovery from LASIK like? It depends of you and your definition of recovery. You will be seeing better immediately but you may not achieve the eventual crispness you expect for several weeks or months. If you think of functional recovery (being able to do most things without glasses) in terms of days and weeks and eventual recovery in terms of months, you will be pleasantly surprised with how quickly your eyes can recover after LASIK.
Check out our other LASIK blogs:
- LASIK Screenings
- LASIK: Eliminating Glare & Halos
- LASIK over 40
- PRK versus LASIK
- Monovision LASIK
- Custom LASIK
- Different Lasers
- Preparing for LASIK