How to Prepare for LASIK: Before, During, and After Surgery

Are you considering LASIK eye surgery? For many patients, this simple outpatient procedure profoundly impacts their life. With just one surgery, they can say goodbye to uncomfortable contacts and clunky glasses in favor of crisp, clear 20/20 vision. Whether you’ve already booked your surgery date or are just curious about what goes into the LASIK process, this guide will walk you through everything you need to prepare.

Before Your LASIK surgery

Like any surgical procedure, there are a few things you’ll need to do to prepare so that when surgery day comes around, you and your surgeon can ensure your procedure goes splendidly. Here are the big things to keep in mind.


Are There Any Dietary Restrictions?

First, let's start with one of the most commonly asked questions we get. You’ll be pleased to know there are no dietary restrictions for LASIK. Feel free to have whatever you want. We encourage you to get something on your stomach before the procedure, as you will be medicated.

Remove Your Contact Lenses

You should remove your contact lenses before your LASIK consultation and surgery. You must stop wearing your contacts before surgery and switch to wearing your glasses full-time. Contact lenses change the shape of your cornea for up to several weeks after you’ve stopped using them, depending on the type of contact lenses you wear.

Wearing your contact lenses for too long before your procedure prevents your cornea from assuming its natural shape, which is required for a successful procedure. Prolonged contact use without giving your cornea time to adjust may result in inaccurate measurements and a poor surgical plan.

If you wear soft contact lenses or toric lenses, stop wearing them for two weeks before surgery. For hard lenses or rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs), you should stop wearing them at least six weeks before surgery up to a maximum of 12 weeks.


Stop Wearing Makeup

You must stop wearing eye makeup and use eye lotions or creams at least two days before your LASIK surgery. These products and debris along the eyelashes may increase the risk of infection during and after surgery. Your doctor may also ask you to scrub your eyelashes for some time before surgery to eliminate residues and debris along the lashes. You must also leave makeup off for seven days following the procedure.


Use Your Prescribed Eye Drops

After your surgery appointment is set, we will start you on a Restasis regimen. These prescription eye drops help encourage robust and healthy tear production to prevent dry eye. Dry eye can complicate the procedure. Make sure you stick to your eye drop regimen, using Restasis in the morning and at night before and after surgery. On the day before surgery, you should use your prescribed Besivance eye drops, putting one drop in your eyes at bedtime and bedtime.


Have Someone to Drive You and Pick You Up

You will not be able to drive for a couple of days after surgery. You will need someone to drive you to and from your procedure and first follow-up appointment. We also ask that you keep your eyes closed during the drive home after your LASIK surgery.


Payment Must Be Provided in Full

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have made payment in full for your LASIK procedure. Payment is due before the day of your surgery. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover, AMEX, cashier’s checks, money orders made out to Clarkson Eyecare, and cash. We offer 24-month, no-interest financing through Care Credit to those approved via the online application. This must be done before the procedure.

During Your LASIK Surgery

On the day of your surgery, you should come dressed warmly and comfortably, as the surgery room must be kept cool for the laser equipment. Please refrain from wearing anything fuzzy. Also, do not wear fragrances, including perfume, hair spray, hair gel, cologne, aftershave, liquid fabric softener, lotions, moisturizers, or oils. However, you may use shampoo, conditioner and deodorant.

Make sure to arrive 30 minutes to one hour before your scheduled surgery time to allow time to complete your updated medical history and consent forms. At this time, we’ll give you a post-operative kit containing instructions, eye shields, a sample of artificial tears, and sunglasses.


Upon completing the necessary forms, you will be taken to the pre-operative room, where eye drops will be placed in your eye(s). At this point, we will offer you a mild sedative to help you relax and go over all post-operative instructions. This includes how to use everything you received in your post-operative kit. We will take you to the laser surgical suite once the sedative takes effect and the surgeon is ready for you.

While you do need to be awake for this procedure, the sedative will keep you relaxed and without pain. The entire surgery takes less than 30 minutes.

After Your LASIK procedure

Immediately after the procedure, you will be taken to the post-operative recovery room. Your eye(s) may burn, itch, or feel like there is something in them. You may experience some discomfort. Both your eyes may tear or water. Your vision will probably be hazy or blurry. You will instinctively want to rub your eyes, but don’t! Rubbing your eyes could dislodge the flap we created during surgery while reshaping your cornea, requiring further treatment.

In addition, you may experience sensitivity to light, glare, starbursts or haloes around lights, or the whites of your eye may look red or bloodshot. These symptoms should improve considerably within the first few days after surgery.

Plan on taking a few days off from work if you experience these symptoms. You should contact your doctor immediately and not wait for your scheduled visit if you experience severe pain, increased redness of the eye, or if your vision or other symptoms get worse instead of better.


Your Vision: What to Expect Following LASIK

During the first few months after surgery, your vision may fluctuate. It may take up to three to six months for your vision to stabilize completely after surgery. Glare, haloes, difficulty driving at night, and other visual symptoms may also persist during this stabilization period.

If further correction or enhancement is necessary, you should wait until your eye measurements are consistent for two consecutive visits at least one month apart before enhancement. It is essential to realize that although distance vision may improve after an enhancement, it is unlikely that other visual symptoms, such as glare or haloes, will improve.

The First Step to Recovery: Rest Your Eyes

Go directly home after your procedure and take a 6-hour nap. Sleeping allows your body to go into healing mode, allowing your corneal flap(s) to heal in the proper position. Do not wear LASIK goggles or shields during this nap. If you have difficulty sleeping, take “Tylenol PM,” “Advil PM,” or “Benadryl,” and if you have any discomfort, take “Extra Strength” tablets. You should begin putting drops in your eye(s) after your nap. Remember, do not drive a car or operate machinery immediately after surgery. But most importantly, give your eyes a break for the next day.


Schedule Your Post-Operative Visit

Clarkson Eyecare prefers that its LASIK patients return for the first post-operative checkup one day after surgery. This allows us to ensure everything is healing correctly and catch any complications before they become serious. We will schedule your post-operative visit on the day of your surgery, usually between 7 and 10 AM of the following day.


Stick to Your Prescribed Eye Drops Regimen

The medicated eye drops you are given may sting when you put them in, but they are essential for helping your eyes heal. Use one drop of Besivance and Durezol twice daily for one week. Also, use preservative-free artificial tears every hour between your medicated drops for the first week. After one week, use Restatis twice daily for three months following your procedure.

Even if your eyes start to feel better and your vision begins to clear, stick to and complete your eye drops regimen unless directed otherwise by your Clarkson Eyecare doctor.

Other Recovery Requirements

Rest and eye drops are essential tools to help you recover and enjoy your new 20/20 vision faster. Behavioral changes may also help you get the most out of your surgery.


Post-Operative LASIK Eye Shields and Goggles

On the day of your surgery, we will give you a set of LASIK shields or goggles in your post-operative kit. You must wear the plastic shield(s) or goggles every night for five nights after surgery. This prevents you from rubbing your eye(s) while sleeping.

Wear Sunglasses While Outdoors

For the first two weeks after your LASIK eye surgery, we ask that you wear sunglasses whenever you go outdoors. This includes when it is cloudy. This will also help with glare and light sensitivity issues you may have following your procedure.

Avoid Environments with Eye Irritants

Immediately following your procedure, you must avoid environments that can irritate the eyes. These include anywhere with lots of smoke, dust, sand or other eye irritants. If you must work in a dusty environment, you will require safety glasses for protection while your eyes heal.

Be Careful When Cleaning Your Eyes

Some patients may find their eyes are matted in the morning after they wake up. After LASIK surgery, you must be more delicate when cleaning your eyes. We recommend holding a warm washcloth over your closed eyes for 60 seconds. If this doesn’t loosen the gunk on your eyes, repeat the same process for another 60 seconds. Afterward, use a corner of the washcloth to clean your eyes gently.

Removing any dirt, dust, or debris before beginning your eye drop regimen for the day is essential.

Activity Restrictions After LASIK Surgery

Following your procedure, there will be certain restrictions on the kind of activities you can do. These include bathing and operating machinery, working out, and engaging in water sports. In this section, we will break down the timeline of restrictions following surgery and when it's okay to resume your normal activities.

The Day of Your LASIK Surgery

On the day of your LASIK procedure, you should rest the day of surgery. Be careful about any activities where your eyes may be poked, rubbed or touched. Instead of rubbing your eyes, use lubricant drops to relieve irritation. Avoid staring at objects, as this can cause dryness and irritate the eyes further. You need to wait at least 12 hours after surgery before bathing.


24 Hours After Your LASIK Surgery

The day after your surgery, you can begin performing light activities. Work should be avoided. You should not drive until cleared by your doctor during your first follow-up exam. It’s okay to start reading or watching television if you can keep your eyes lubricated. If you need to, you can fly on an airplane the day after your LASIK procedure, but you will need to lubricate your eyes every 15 to 30 minutes. Playing golf is okay, as long as you wear sunglasses outdoors.

48 Hours After Your LASIK Surgery

Two days after your procedure, you can return to work. This includes office jobs requiring long hours of staring at computer screens. However, you will need to keep your eyes lubricated.


72 Hours After Your LASIK Surgery

Three days after your surgery, you can start exercising again with your doctor’s permission. Using a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical machine, or other exercise equipment will pose no risk to your eyes. You may also participate in non-contact sports. However, water sports and sports with racquets, such as tennis or badminton, are still off-limits.


1 Week After Your LASIK Surgery

One week after your surgery, many of the restrictions on sports will begin to lift. Racquet sports and sports like basketball, baseball, football and soccer are now okay to participate in. However, you will need to use eye protection. If you own a motorcycle, dirt bike or mountain bike, you can begin using them again with eye protection. You can begin weight-lifting or weight training again. You may also resume martial arts. You can begin to use swimming pools again as long as you wear goggles. You may NOT swim in lakes, ponds or the ocean yet. Hot tubs and whirlpools are okay. If you use tanning beds, you may begin tanning again, but you must use eye lubrication drops and goggles.


1 Month After Your LASIK Surgery

A month after your LASIK surgery, most restrictions will go away. You can begin participating in more extreme sports like sailing, skiing or parachuting. Most water sports or outdoor sports are allowed. You can begin swimming in lakes, ponds, and the ocean, but goggles are highly recommended.

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Follow-Up Visits After Your LASIK Surgery

We ask that you return one day, seven to ten days, one month, three months, and six months following your surgery date. Contact us immediately if you develop any new, unusual or worsening symptoms at any point after surgery. Such symptoms could signal a problem that may lead to vision loss if not treated early enough.