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What Happens After Laser Eye Surgery?

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With work, family and a social life to balance, you might think you don’t have the time to have laser eye surgery.


Unlike many other surgical procedures, you’re able to walk away the same day. The results are visible in just a few hours and there’s a very quick recovery time. Here’s exactly what happens after laser eye surgery and how long it takes before you can get back to your daily routine.

Timeline of Laser Eye Surgery

From your initial consultation to any aftercare you might need, we’ll run through what you can expect before, during and after your laser eye surgery.

Before Laser Eye Surgery

You’ll need to have an initial evaluation from an eye care professional, usually an optometrist, who can determine the condition of your eyes. There are different options available depending on the corrective treatment that needs to be carried out.

If you regularly wear contact lenses, you don’t need to stop wearing them before your evaluation, just leave them out on the day itself.

When it comes to your actual treatment, you will need to leave your contacts out for longer, usually one week for standard soft lenses.

Contact lenses can change the shape of your cornea when worn for long periods of time. Switch to your glasses to allow your eyes to return to their natural shape. This allows the doctor to make the correct diagnosis and measure your refraction (prescription) accurately.

Want To Find Out If You’re Suitable?

If you’re wondering whether laser eye treatment is the right choice for you, there are some key things to consider…

Make sure your doctor and any other specialists involved have all the necessary information they need. Detail the previous and current condition of your eyes, as well as any other important medical history.

Laser eye surgery isn’t for everyone, so an expert will carry out a comprehensive eye exam to decide if you’re eligible. They’ll outline the benefits and risks that are associated with laser eye surgery, as well as whether or not there are any alternatives open to you.

This appointment is a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the procedure itself and how long it’ll be before you’re back to normal.

Meeting Your Surgeon

Once you decide to go ahead with treatment, you will proceed to have a pre-operative and consent appointment with your surgeon.

Your doctor will confirm your suitability, explain specific aspects related to your treatment and expected outcome and cover all essential topics as part of consenting to surgery. You can have all your specific questions answered by your surgeon at this meeting so that you’re relaxed and confident to proceed with vision correction.

You and your surgeon will sign the consent discussion sheet to show that you have had the opportunity to learn and ask all relevant questions before going ahead with treatment. You will also sign the formal consent to surgery form at this time. You will need to ensure you have read the consent form prior to this appointment!

During the Surgery

The day before the surgery, you’ll need to avoid any creams, lotions or makeup around your eyes as they can increase the risk of infection.

Laser eye surgery takes around 10 minutes for both eyes, depending on the type of treatment you’re having, and the surgeon will have explained to you exactly what will happen beforehand. You’ll experience different levels of blurred vision during the surgery, particularly if a suction ring is placed around your eye.

Anaesthetic drops will stop you from feeling any pain. A small device (speculum) is placed on your eye to keep it open at all times, you’ll still feel as if you’re blinking but it won’t interfere with the surgeon’s work, and the eye will actually remain open. Just blink as normal!

Depending on the surgery you have, the procedure itself will be quick and straightforward. LASIK, for example, involves a laser creating a small, thin corneal flap. You’ll feel pressure for a short period of time, around 25 seconds, but no pain. Each eye takes only 4 or 5 minutes to complete.

At the end of the procedure, a protective shield will be placed over your eyes as there are no stitches as part of the surgery. It’ll prevent you from accidentally rubbing your eye, especially when you go to sleep.

After Laser Eye Surgery

Immediately after the surgery, you may experience some slight scratchiness, grittiness or burning. It can sometimes feel as though something is in your eye, but it’s important you don’t touch it.

For many people, leaving their eye alone after the surgery is actually the hardest part. Just head home or the hotel where you are staying and rest with your eyes closed for 2-4 hours. After around 4 hours your eyes will feel normal again and usually with clear vision.

At Focus Clinic, we ask that patients stay to rest and relax for around 20 minutes after surgery. This allows you to wait for whoever is collecting you and allows us to make sure everything is perfect before letting you go.

There might be some pain but a local anaesthetic drop will help. Your eyes may tear or water and your vision will be blurry, so it’s important you’ve already planned to have someone drive you home.

Some other side effects to look out for include:

  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Glare, starbursts or halos.
  • Red or bloodshot eyes.
  • Gritty eyes.

It can vary from patient to patient, but you can usually expect your eyes to feel normal again in around four hours. By this time, your vision should be excellent. You’ll need to have a follow-up examination the day after your surgery. We can check on progress and sign off on you being allowed to drive again.

There are some activities we’d recommend against doing whilst you recover. Contact sports and swimming can both lead to problems with your eyes as they heal. Any bumps or knocks can lead to you needing further work. It’s also important you continue to wear the eye shields at night during the first seven days, to prevent you from rubbing your eyes whilst you sleep.

Depending on the conditions you needed correcting, it can be some time before your eyesight has fully stabilised. Long-sighted treatments may need weeks or months to fully settle. By following our instructions and attending any checkups needed, you’re going to see the best possible results.

Choose the Right Surgeon and Clinic

Finding the right surgeon for you is an important process. You should look for a professional that’s highly-qualified and experienced.

Focus Clinic is proud to be the only clinic in the UK with a 100 percent success rate. We have a 9.9 out of 10 rating thanks to reviews from our happy clients.

Unlike many other clinics, we offer a comprehensive aftercare package. In the unlikely event that your eyes need further attention, we’re happy to carry out any necessary work completely free.

For more information on the different laser eye surgeries available at Focus Clinic, download our free pack. It’s packed with everything you need to know about laser eye surgery.

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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