Eye lasers

An In-Depth Guide to Laser Eye Surgery Recovery

Are you thinking about getting laser eye treatment soon? If the answer is yes, you’ll likely have a few questions about the process - especially when it comes to post-op recovery. Laser eye treatment is a safe and generally low-risk treatment available to those wanting to improve their vision. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about laser eye surgery recovery time, the healing process, aftercare tips, and even how long to wait before doing certain activities like driving or exercising.

Last Update: 2 February 2024Created by: betterviewReading time: 7 minutes
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How Long is the Laser Eye Surgery Recovery Time?

Typically, it takes two to six months to completely heal from laser eye surgery. However, the exact recovery time largely depends on the specific method used.

Femto-LASIK is a method of laser eye surgery that fixes vision problems by reshaping the cornea of the eye. For Femto-LASIK, your laser eye surgeon - also known as an ophthalmologist - will use a laser to make a thin flap on the surface of your cornea. This flap is lifted and the cornea is lasered, after which the flap is smoothed back down. Femto-LASIK laser eye surgery recovery time is relatively quick and painless, with most patients feeling fully operational after one or two days post-procedure.

Trans-PRK is another method of laser eye surgery, which can have a longer healing time compared to Femto-LASIK. It is also slightly more painful. Trans-PRK is a refractive method of laser eye surgery that involves reshaping a patient's cornea. Your ophthalmologist will use a laser directly on your cornea - instead of making a flap - which will then regrow after the surgery.

Want to know which method of laser eye surgery is best suited for you? Book a free preliminary eye consultation at a betterview shop near you.

What to Expect On the Day of Your Laser Eye Treatment

It’s natural to feel slightly nervous before a medical procedure. To help ease any anxieties you may have, here are a few things to know about what will happen on the day of your laser eye treatment.

Firstly, your procedure won’t be long and you can go home the same day. If you have Femto-LASIK surgery, the procedure is about thirty minutes for both eyes. Trans-PRK is even quicker and only takes a few minutes for each eye to be lasered.

Although your visit will be over in just under one hour, you won’t be allowed to drive after the surgery, so you will need to organise a lift home. For complete peace of mind on the day of your surgery, we can organise a swift door-to-door taxi service for you.

Before the procedure, your eyes will be anaesthetised with eye drops - this is to ensure that you feel no pain during the treatment. A clip will be used to keep your eyes open during the procedure. Your ophthalmologist will talk you through the entire procedure and ask you to look at a fixation light during the surgery. This will help keep your eyes in the right position.

After the procedure, your vision will be slightly blurred. You will feel a bit of discomfort in your eyes - as if there’s a foreign body in them.

To protect your eyes straight after the surgery, you must avoid rubbing or scratching them. It is recommended that you take sunglasses with you. If you do not have a pair of uncorrected sunglasses, you will receive a pair of glasses to wear that keep you from touching the eyes. These glasses will help stop any dust from getting into your eyes, too.

Sleep is very important to your recovery process and in order to protect your eyes when sleeping, we offer patients special eye patches. These patches can be stuck on top of the eyes while sleeping for the first four days after the treatment.

You may also be prescribed eye drops that contain anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medicine. After Trans-PRK laser eye surgery, a protective lens is usually placed over the treated eye to help it heal successfully as well as protect the cornea while it is regrowing.

Your level of pain straight after the treatment largely depends on the type of laser you received. With Femto-LASIK, you should experience very little pain. You may feel slight discomfort in the treated eye for a few hours after the procedure. For most people, their vision improves quite significantly on the day of treatment.

If you’ve undergone Trans-PRK laser eye surgery, you may experience some pain a few days after the procedure, as well as some sensitivity to light. With this type of surgery, the thin top layer of your cornea is directly lasered on - this is made of epithelium tissue which will regrow in the days following your surgery. Your pain will be managed with painkillers, which your ophthalmologist will prescribe to you.

The Week After Your Laser Eye Treatment

Your vision may fluctuate in the early stages of healing, but should steadily improve in the first few days post-surgery. It’s crucial that you follow all the post-procedure advice your ophthalmologist gives you to ensure optimal recovery.

With Femto-LASIK, your first follow-up appointment will occur the day after your laser eye surgery. Your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and check that they are healing properly. This includes checking the condition of your cornea and if there are any signs of inflammation or infection. They will also test your vision for overall improvement.

Your first follow-up appointment after Trans-PRK surgery takes place five days later. The ophthalmologist will remove the protective lens and examine both your vision and the condition of the eyes. In particular, they will check that the epithelium tissue (what was lasered off) is growing back properly. If the epithelium has grown back, the protective lens will be discarded. During this appointment, they will also adjust your pain medication if required.

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Up to Three Months After Laser Eye Treatment

Everybody reacts differently to laser eye surgery, including how long their laser eye surgery recovery time is. It’s not uncommon for your vision to fluctuate slightly post-procedure, or for your diopter values to not yet be fully achieved. All this will be closely monitored by your ophthalmologist.

If you’ve had Femto-LASIK, you’ll have to visit your ophthalmologist a week after your initial follow-up procedure. If you’ve had Trans-PRK surgery, you’ll visit your ophthalmologist two weeks after the first follow-up appointment.

Your final examination will happen around two months after your laser eye treatment. By this time, you should not be experiencing any post-op symptoms - such as watery eyes, light sensitivity, or scratchy discomfort - and have stable vision without the need for visual aids.

Things to Consider After Laser Eye Surgery

Although your laser eye surgery recovery time will depend on the treatment you received, there are some general healing tips to take into account.

Returning To Work

You may experience some post-procedure symptoms like watery eyes, itchy eyes, or blurred vision. This may impact your ability to work in front of a screen or travel to work. We suggest waiting a few days after your treatment before returning to work. If you work in a dusty or windy environment, take extra care, and talk to your ophthalmologist about when it’s best for you to return to work. If you’ve had Femto-LASIK, you’ll most likely be able to return to work after just a day or two. However, the wait is a little longer after a Trans-PRK procedure.

Exercise

It’s recommended that you avoid exercising for around two weeks after the laser eye procedure.

It’s important to ensure that you don’t get sweat in your eyes as this may cause irritation. Therefore, light physical activities such as walking or yoga are an option. Activities with a lot of physical contact, such as boxing or rugby, should be avoided for at least a month after your procedure.

Based on your healing process, your ophthalmologist can advise when you can return to your regular exercise routine.

Swimming

We recommend waiting at least two to four weeks before swimming. This also includes using a sauna. Chemicals in the water could cause eye irritation or infection. Additionally, in the first few days, it’s best to avoid showering and getting water in your eyes - this is also to prevent unnecessary irritation or infection.

Wearing Makeup

Foreign bodies and bacteria could get into your eyes when wearing makeup, which is why we suggest waiting up to two weeks before wearing any makeup around the eyes. Rubbing your eyes is also not recommended for at least two weeks after your laser eye surgery, which can happen when removing makeup.

Driving

Under no circumstances should you drive a vehicle on the day of your laser eye treatment, as you’ll have limited visibility. You should be able to get behind the wheel about a day or two after Femto-LASIK surgery, although this is not the case with Trans PRK, whereby we recommend waiting at least a week to drive again. To ensure your safety and that of others, your ophthalmologist will grant you permission to drive when the required level of vision is achieved.

Flying

How long you should wait before flying depends on what type of laser eye treatment you’ve just had. With Femto-LASIK, you can fly a day after your surgery, however, we recommend waiting at least four days after a Trans-PRK laser treatment.

There are, however, two important things to consider before travelling on a plane. Firstly, the ventilation and air conditioning on a plane are typically quite dry and could irritate your eyes. We recommend keeping your prescribed eye drops on you during the trip. And secondly, it’s important that you attend all your required post-op appointments before travelling. If you plan on travelling soon after your laser eye treatment, we recommend talking to your ophthalmologist.

Get Laser Eye Surgery With The Highest Precision

Now that we’ve explored what your laser eye surgery recovery time may be - and what to expect in the days after your treatment - we hope you feel more confident in taking the first step toward seeing clearly without any visual aids.

Learn more about your laser eye surgery treatment options with betterview, and book your no-obligation, free initial consultation today.

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