Laser eye surgery is a simple procedure used to fix eye problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (a defect in the shape of the eye). This article will explain the basics of laser eye surgery, what is to be expected, and tips for a good recovery.
Laser eye surgery is a simple outpatient procedure. The patient lays in a reclining chair and is given a local anesthetic in their eyes. No general anesthesia is needed because it is a simple and short surgery, and general anesthesia would drastically increase the price. However, the patient can request an oral sedative to make them more comfortable.
The eyelid will be held open with a speculum and the eye surgeon will use a blade or a laser to create a corneal flap. This flap is lifted to expose the inside of the cornea where the laser can then reshape it. The procedure is done one eye at a time and typically takes less than half an hour. The patient will then be given a plastic shield to protect their eyes.
What to Expect Post-Op
The first 4 hours after laser eye surgery are generally the most painful. Most patients prefer to nap during this period. It is common for the eyes to be swollen or have red spots on the white of the eye. Though it's possible for vision to be blurry for up to 2 weeks, generally you will see improvements within 24 hours. Patients may experience light flares or blurry spots, but these will fluctuate and go away after the eyes adjust.
Dos and Don'ts
Don't do any of the following for the first week after surgery:
- Wear eye makeup
- Be around dusty environments
- Do yard work
- Get soap or water in or around your eyes
Don't do any of the following for the first two weeks after surgery:
- Sit in a hot tub
- Submerge your head underwater
- Stare at a screen for long periods of time
Do the following as instructed by your eye surgeon:
- Wear the plastic shield until the next morning, except when applying eye drops, to prevent damaging the eyes during sleep
- Wear the eye shield additionally for the first 5 nights
- Use eye drops to prevent the eye from drying out
When these things are done diligently, recovery will be smooth and quick.
The day after surgery patients will have a post-op appointment with their eye surgeon. The surgeon will do a vision test and check on the status of healing. Several additional follow-ups will be scheduled throughout the next year. Patients should keep in contact with their eye surgeon to make sure everything is on track.
The prospect of having surgery is daunting to some, but laser eye surgery is common and highly effective. With this guide, patients can know what to expect and be well prepared for a successful recovery from their laser eye surgery.