Laser eye surgery is a popular alternative to wearing glasses and contact lenses. Where glasses can fog up or fall off, and contact lenses need constant cleaning and contribute to landfill, laser eye surgery can provide permanent, clear sight without extra optical aids. However, as with all surgical procedures, there is some post-operative healing involved. Here’s what you need to know about your recovery from laser eye surgery.


What to Expect During Recovery from Laser Eye Surgery

There are a number of different types of laser eye surgery operations, which means the expectations of your sight and eyes can vary in the immediate post-operative recovery period. Your experience during your recovery from laser eye surgery can also vary due to your body’s unique response to healing and whether you happen to encounter any complications during the healing period. However, if all goes well, this is what you can expect in general. 


guide tips healing eye treatment melbourneLASIK

LASIK is a common type of laser eye surgery, which stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. During LASIK, a flap of outermost corneal tissue is created, either using a bladed tool or a femtosecond laser. When this flap is opened to the side, an excimer laser can be applied to the deeper layers to reshape these tissues. The reshaping of the cornea is the basis of all refractive laser eye surgery techniques, as it corrects the way light focuses through the eyes. In LASIK, once the cornea has been re-sculpted, the flap is replaced. 

Most people are able to return to their usual activities within a couple of days after LASIK. However, in those first few days, your eyes will probably feel slightly uncomfortable or irritated, such as mild itching or burning. Many people find their sight is quite clear in as little as a few hours, though you should still avoid driving until you’ve had a review examination with your ophthalmologist. A common side effect of LASIK is the sensation of dry eyes, as the corneal nerves would have been disrupted during the laser procedure, but this should resolve in the coming months. 



PRK is an older technique of laser eye surgery but is still often used today. Standing for photorefractive keratectomy, PRK is able to be applied to people whose corneal thicknesses are deemed too thin for LASIK, which makes it a valuable technique. During PRK, the topmost epithelial layer of corneal cells is removed. After this, the excimer laser performs its reshaping work on the deeper layers. Your ophthalmologist then places a soft bandage contact lens over the eyes to protect the epithelium while it regenerates. 

PRK does tend to be associated with a longer recovery time and more discomfort. For a few days after your operation, you can expect your eyes to feel tender, gritty, dry, and light-sensitive. In most cases, this can be managed with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen. As the epithelium is healing for the following three to five days after your PRK procedure, your sight is likely to remain reasonably blurry. It can take up to three months for your eyes to heal completely, but most people see quite well within a month. 



expectation recover surgery eye laser melbourneSMILE is the newest addition to the various laser eye surgery techniques; it stands for small incision lenticule extraction. During SMILE, the outer corneal tissues are left largely undisturbed. Instead, a femtosecond laser is used to form a disc-like sliver of deeper corneal cells, called a lenticule, which is then extracted from the eye through a keyhole incision. This means fewer nerves are disturbed, leading to a lower incidence of post-operative dry eye, and the corneal retains better stability. 

Once the topical anaesthetic wears off, as with LASIK and PRK, you will find your eyes feel a little uncomfortable, including grittiness, tearing, and redness. Your sight recovers quite quickly; most people see clearly within a couple of days. In total, it can take three to six months for your eyes to heal completely, but you’ll be back to your usual activities long before then.


Tips for Recovery from Laser Eye Surgery

After your laser eye surgery procedure, your ophthalmologist will go through a list of post-operative instructions. The purpose of these is to reduce your risk of a complication, such as an infection or excessive inflammation. He or she will advise you to:

  • Use your prescription eye drops. There will typically be a couple of bottles of prescription eyedrops to manage inflammation and prevent opportunistic bacterial infections. The dosage of these drops can vary over a few weeks. 
  • Avoid situations that present a risk of facial trauma. For some, this may mean you need to take a longer time away from work. For others, it could simply mean not bending down to pat your dog if you know he likes to jump. 
  • Keep your eyes clean. While avoiding dirt and dust is obvious, it’s also important to avoid certain sources of unsterile water for about a month. These include swimming pools, saunas, spas, and the beach. 

If at any point you feel that something is not right with your eyes or vision, it’s important to contact your ophthalmologist without delay. Increasing redness, pain, decreasing vision, or the presence of discharge needs immediate attention. If you’re unable to get hold of your ophthalmologist, see your local optometrist or hospital emergency. Call us now on 03 9000 0389.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.





LASIK Recovery Time: What to expect after LASIK?

PRK Recovery Time: What to Expect.



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