What you need to know about preparation, surgery and recovery
Laser eye surgery is one of the safest and most frequently performed elective surgeries in the world transforming the lives of millions worldwide. However, to facilitate a smooth and quick recovery, it’s important that you do your part and take care of your eyes after the surgery by following these 10 simple recovery tips:
1. Don't rub your eyes
Even if your eyes feel itchy, it is extremely important that you fight this urge, particularly during the first 7 days following laser eye surgery. Rubbing your eyes too soon is less of a concern with SMILE than LASIK but may cause post-surgical complications and undo some of the work carried out during surgery, creating a setback requiring further treatment.
To relieve some of the itchiness and tingling sensation, you will be given eye drops to lubricate the eyes and also may be given protective eyewear to help prevent you from rubbing your eyes during your sleep.
2. Wear sunglasses
After laser eye surgery, your eyes will be sensitive to light especially in the hours immediately after your treatment. Because of this sensitivity, we recommend that you wear a pair of good quality UV protective glasses to protect your eyes and lessen glare. Not only do glasses provide protection from harmful UV rays, but they also act as a barrier against wind and dust particles, helping to prevent infection.
3. Administer your drops as prescribed
As part of your post-operation plan, you will have been given a series of eye drops. It is essential that you administer the drops as advised by your doctor and establish a good drop routine so that you don’t forget to take them. Before applying the eye drops, make sure that you have washed your hands thoroughly, as minimising infection risk is critical after laser eye surgery.
4. Go makeup-free
To reduce the chance of infection or irritation, avoid wearing eye makeup for one week following laser eye surgery.
5. Avoid strenuous exercise, impact or sports
Avoid any strenuous exercise and sport (especially contact sports) for a period after laser eye surgery as an accident or bump during a game could disrupt the healing of the cornea. We also want to avoid sweat dripping into the eyes in order to minimize the chance of infection.
The length of time you should wait before returning to your regular physical activities is dependent on the type of laser eye surgery. For SMILE, it is recommended that you wait at least a week before returning to your normal sports. Following LASIK, we recommend you avoid swimming and contact sport for two weeks. After PRK, we recommend you avoid swimming and contact sports for at least two weeks.
6. Take note of your environment
To avoid foreign particles from landing in your eyes and potentially causing issues during the healing period, make sure you avoid smokey rooms, dusty or unhygienic environments or areas with chemical vapours such as smokey kitchens, woodwork workshops, science labs, printing shops, darkrooms etc.
For smokers, you should try to quit for at least a week after the surgery. To minimise smoke exposure to your eyes, wear protective glasses when smoking. Also, to prevent your eyes from getting dry and itchy, recognise things like air conditioning, (aeroplane cabins for example), which can dry out your eyes and required you to use your lubricating eye drops more frequently.
7. Limit screen-time
Aside from causing eye strain, when focusing on digital screens, we tend to blink less often than normal. Therefore, any activity that requires intensive use of your eyes like computer work or watching TV, while not harmful, may make your eyes more uncomfortable.
8. Take care when showering
While your friends & family will be pleased to know that you can shower and take a bath a day after the procedure, it is important that you are extra careful not to get hair products, body wash or soap in your eyes.
As a rule, you should take this precaution for at least 5 days after your laser eye surgery. Avoid putting your face in the direct stream of the shower or washing your eyes in the shower and let your eyes air-dry after you get out of the shower. It may be better to take a bath instead of a shower to prevent soap and water irritating the eyes.
9. No water-based activities
Due to the chemicals in chlorinated water and particles found in salt and fresh water, irritation, redness and corneal infection is a higher risk immediately after laser eye surgery. Aside from the increased chances of infection, interactions with these bodies of water can slow the healing process of the cornea. Therefore, aside from showering and bathing, we ask our patients to wait at least 7 days after surgery before resuming water-based activities in the pools, hot tubs, oceans or lakes.
10. Get plenty of rest
Taking it easy and getting plenty of sleep is the best remedy for a speedy recovery, as it is when most of the body’s natural healing processes take place.
Even though laser vision correction is a minor procedure and most often you are back to work the next day, protecting your eyes during the post-op recovery period will make all the difference for your smooth, speedy recovery. While aftercare regimes may differ slightly from one individual to another, the main post-surgery rules and recovery tips are basically the same. It is important to always follow the advice of your surgeon, attend all post-op appointments as requested and always use any prescribed drops or medications as instructed by your doctor.
If you have questions about either the SMILE, LASIK or PRK surgery post-operative instructions, please give us a call or book your free initial consultation – we are always happy to answer your questions and provide additional information about post-op care to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your vision.