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Laser eye surgery recovery for 5 different procedures

Posted by K. Fry on March 5, 2014
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When it comes to laser eye surgery, it’s important to focus on realistic expectations. Before undergoing any procedure, a thorough consultation with a surgeon can help clarify expected results for patients.

Here’s a snapshot of possible results and recovery time after laser eye surgery.

After surgery is complete, it’s important for patients to stick to the recommended schedule of follow-up care. That includes taking the recommended number of days off work, taking prescribed medication, attending post-operative appointments and refraining from certain sports activities until given the green light.

Results and recovery time will vary from patient-to-patient.

1. LASIK 

Most patients have little or no pain after LASIK eye surgery and vision improvements are often noticeable within a few days following surgery. Some patients are able to return to work within 24 hours of the procedure, but the required time off work can depend on recovery progress and on the level of eye trauma risk associated with a certain job. Special protective sunglasses are worn during the initial healing process and instructions will be given for the administration of eye drops. Follow-up visits to check on recovery and healing, starting the day after surgery, are scheduled intermittently throughout the year. Some patients may experience a temporary condition called ‘dry eyes,’ after undergoing surgery. Symptoms can include blurry vision that is temporary and excessive tearing, as well as burning, itchiness or redness of the eyes. Dry eyes can be treated with artificial tear drops or comfort plugs.

2. PRK

Laser eye surgery recovery from PRK takes slightly longer than recovery from LASIK. That’s because PRK surgery involves the removal of the epithelium (top layer) of the corneal, instead of the creation of a LASIK flap. It can take between three and five days for the body to regrow the epithelial layer that was removed during surgery. Patients will be fitted with a contact lens ‘bandage’ the will help the protect the cornea and help it heal. Patients who undergo PRK surgery can expect some level of pain for a few days following the procedure. After PRK, vision can temporarily be reduced or can remain blurry for some time and it can also take longer for vision to stabilize. A schedule for follow-up surgery will be provided and surgeons will provide prescriptions for eyedrops and, if necessary, pain medication. The visual correction outcomes of PRK and LASIK are comparable.

3. LASEK

Laser eye surgery recovery times for LASEK, a newer procedure, are normally longer compared to recovery from LASIK or PRK surgery. Bandage contact lenses or eye shields are applied and worn for a few days after surgery. They help protect the cornea so that the epithelial layer, which is loosened during this process, can reattach and heal. Vision can be temporarily reduced while the epithelial layer heals following LASEK surgery and there can be pain associated with the healing process. Prescription eye drops are used for up to several months after the surgery and follow-up visits are scheduled to monitor recovery.

4. Epi-LASIK

Vision correction results from Epi-LASIK can be comparable to LASIK and PRK. After surgery, bandage contact lenses are inserted to help keep the epithelial flap in place and to protect it as it heals. There can be pain associated with the Epi-LASIK healing process. After Epi-LASIK surgery, vision stabilization can take anywhere from a few days up to several months. An eye drop prescription and application schedule will be given and follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor healing and recovery.

5. Artificial lens implants

Normally, incisions used in this process are self-sealing and do not require stitches. Although patients can notice vision improvements immediately following surgery, best results are often not realized until a day or two following the surgery. Recovery time and follow-up procedures can vary depending on the type of lens inserted.

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