If you are reading this, I am assuming you have decided to take the exciting yet daunting leap of faith to get laser eye surgery (good luck)! It was not until I had my treatment that I realised there were some strict guidelines I needed to adhere to following laser eye surgery. These guidelines caught me off guard and so the aim of this article is to help you successfully incorporate all of these guidelines when planning for laser eye surgery. These recovery guidelines are relevant to whichever procedure you get e.g. LASIK/LASEK.
Planning for Laser Eye Surgery: Procedure Consideration
For those who have followed my laser eye journey, you will know I have had the iDesign LASEK laser eye surgery which is the “slower healer”. Before discussing the recovery guidelines in detail, for anyone who is getting LASEK surgery, I would strongly recommend reading my blog on the LASEK Laser Eye Surgery Recovery Time.
The expected visual recovery time as a whole is extremely important to be aware of. This is because it differs massively based on the procedure type:
- LASIK – From speaking to those who have undergone this procedure and reading online, visual recovery is extremely quick. This is the ideal scenario where you have the surgery, nap and then wake up with 20/20. Minimal time is required to recover. The recommended time is one/two days off. That being said, I have also read a few instances of LASIK resulting in a slower healing time and some even requiring top up procedures. Please bear this is mind but hopefully you are one of the lucky ones if planning for laser eye surgery (LASIK)!
- LASEK/PRK – This recovery on the other hand differs from person to person. The recommended time to have off from work is one week. Based on my experience, I would recommend having two weeks off. One week would have been extremely quick to find my feet. As I experienced drastic vision fluctuations for at least the first month, this was very difficult as my job as an auditor involves working on a laptop all day.
Planning for Laser Eye Surgery: Recovery Guidelines
I would argue that given the total visual recovery time for LASEK is around three months, it is difficult to plan when to get laser eye surgery. There is never a good time to go this long with side effects such as fluctuating vision.
That being said, when planning for laser eye surgery regardless of the procedure type, the below recovery guidelines should be factored in.
Disclaimer: Not only have I put the below guidelines together from my own personal experience from what Optical Express told me but I have also used reputable sources across the internet. These will be hyperlinked for reference.
Additionally, it is said when pregnant or too young (under 21) you should not get laser eye surgery. Dry eyes is also a factor but it is worth a laser eye consultation to find out what the optician thinks.
Exercise – DIY home gym
I am starting off with exercise because if you know me at all you will know how important this is to me. It was only after my surgery when the optician informed me I could not weightlift for four weeks. The reason behind this was because of the immense pressure that would go to my eyes otherwise which prevents healing.
This was devastating news but worked out somewhat well with the closure of gyms due to Coronavirus. In the meantime, I made my DIY home gym under £100 and got set up for when I could lift again. I also went for regular walks with my mum which was nice too.
For any laser eye surgery procedure, there are many rules around the different exercises that can be carried out and how soon after:
- Jogging – 1 week
- Aerobic exercise – 1 week
- Yoga/pilates – 1 week
- Weight lifting – 2 weeks (this differs to what I was told from Optical Express unless this refers to light weights)
- Swimming/Sauna/steam room – 1 month
- Football – 1 month
- Tennis, squash, cricket – 3 months
The full list can be obtained from Optimax. As stated, I was given different guidelines to the above for weightlifting. This article also has quite different guidelines. I would therefore recommend asking the surgeon regarding whichever activity you are particularly interested in.
Another guideline is to minimise screen time for at least the first 24 hours. If you have LASEK, this will be very easy as you will not want to open your eyes at all. Honestly.
Washing your hair
Fortunately, I had washed my hair the night before my surgery. I say fortunately because it is advised to avoid getting water in your eyes for a week after surgery.
This means when having a shower, you should keep your eyes closed and avoid splashing water on your face. Soap and sweat should also be kept out of your eyes, which is why there should be no sauna or spa. All of these factors reduces contamination and infection getting in your eyes as stated here.
In order to start driving again, you will need to be told by the optician whether your eyesight meets the driving standard. The aftercare appointment for LASIK is the following day whereas for LASEK/PRK it is roughly four days later. This is when the bandage lenses are removed.
It will of course depend on how your eyes are following the procedure. I mentioned in my recovery blog I was told I was able to drive. However, I would definitely not have agreed with this as my eyesight was still quite hazy. I would say to be cautious if you do get given the green light though and to ease into it. There are halo rings and different side effects initially to laser eye surgery so be careful.
If you are one who wears make-up/perfume daily, note that most guidelines state you need to wait at least two weeks. This is to ensure you do not get anything in your eyes. Rubbing your eyes is also not advised.
Before you get off and potentially rule this out, London Vision Clinic are not as strict. Apparently you can wear lipstick, foundation and other makeup after 24 hours. Again I would advise speaking to the optician or surgeon.
Smoking is said to irritate the eyes in the first week. This means you are advised not to smoke in the first week.
The same also goes for drinking. One week is advised as drinking dehydrates the eyes. I did read online during the time that following surgery someone had sharp eyesight following surgery. After drinking they experienced a deterioration in vision.
My surgery was 19th December 2020 and I drank on Boxing Day (exactly 7 days later). As my vision was not great at this point as it was, I did not notice much of a difference. I do not drink often as it is but when I have I have not experienced any direct impact.
Planning for Laser Eye Surgery: Wrap up
I hopefully think I have covered everything regarding planning for laser eye surgery. There should not be much more to it than that. If you have anymore questions, feel free to check out my FAQ or post via the Facebook Group.
My next laser eye journey post will be my 3 month post laser eye surgery aftercare appointment update. If you want to find out how my vision really is rather than thinking it is 20/20, join my journey!