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Mr David Allamby
MD, FRCOphth, FRCS
LASEK eye surgery (also called PRK) can seem intimidating, as all eye surgeries are, but most patients will say it’s worth it for better vision and quality of life.
Suppose you’re considering going ahead with LASEK. In that case, you’re probably wondering what the recovery process looks like, the success rates, which precautions should be taken, and the possible complications.
The total LASEK recovery process time takes around six months. You’ll need to visit your eye doctor regularly and expect pain, discomfort, and bloodshot eyes during the first few days of the healing process.
LASEK surgery has a longer healing time than other surgeries like LASIK, which is something to consider if you are exploring your options. Healing time also differs from person to person; you should expect to be away from work for three to seven days post-op.
After your LASEK operation, your eyes will most likely feel inflamed and sore since the surgery has altered your cornea. It’s normal to experience discomfort or some pain; your eyes may feel gritty like something is in your eye, and you may also have a headache.
Your surgeon will prescribe special eye drops, anti-inflammatories, and pain medication to ease the discomfort. It is normal to want to rub your eye after LASEK, but you should definitely avoid doing so where possible.
You’ll need someone to collect you after your procedure. Your eyes will be light-sensitive, so you should wear sunglasses outdoors. Your eyes will be painful during the first 48 to 72 hours, so it’s recommended you keep your calendar clear for the first few days to allow your eyes to heal.
The discomfort will begin to subside after the first few days, but your vision may still be slightly blurry and light-sensitive for three to seven days post-LASEK. Your vision will gradually improve over the next few weeks, and you should be able to return to work around four to five days after surgery.
Daylight may still be strenuous on your eyes, so a pair of sunglasses will come in handy for the first couple of weeks. You’ll receive an eye shield to protect your eyes while asleep, and your surgeon will advise you how long this should be worn.
You’ll be given eye drops to keep your eyes from feeling dry, speed up healing, and prevent infection. You’ll need to take these eyedrops as prescribed several weeks after LASEK to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Driving relies heavily on visual perception, and you’ll need to avoid driving until the optometrist has given you the all-clear.
Most patients are at the legal driving vision standard by one week after treatment.
Slightly blurred vision is expected to last up to several weeks after LASEK but will slowly improve. You may also notice halos and starbursts when looking into the light, which is when light appears to refract from light sources.
Your vision will gradually improve as your eyes continue to heal, so you shouldn’t be concerned if your vision isn’t 100% there after two weeks.
Frequent check-ups with your surgeon or optometrist will be necessary to monitor your eye health and vision in the upcoming months.
Typically, the best vision results are achieved within 1-3 months post-PRK surgery.
PRK has existed for more than 30 years and is considered relatively straightforward compared to LASIK.
When performed by experienced specialists at a reputable clinic, the risk of complications is minimal.
However, it is essential to remember that laser treatment is still a surgery and should be approached with care.
At our specialist centre, owned and operated by our Medical Director and chief surgeon, there are benefits to receiving care from the same team of professionals each time.
Our surgeons are always available to speak with patients if they have any concerns and we are solely focused on providing top-quality clinical care.
While many patients at our centre may choose LASIK surgery, PRK/LASEK may be a more suitable option for some individuals, such as those active in mixed martial arts.
Vision results are virtually identical between PRK and LASIK.
Any laser eye surgery like LASEK will leave your eyes sensitive and need protection during recovery.
Daily life might be challenging for the first few days post-op, but it is worth it to experience perfect vision without visual aids.
Your eyes will hurt for a few days at the beginning of the recovery process, and you should wear sunglasses when you’re outside or in highly lit areas.
You’ll also want to avoid phones and TV screens as much as possible for the first few days.
You’ll naturally want to avoid light and screens as it strains your eyes, and everything looks blurry, so feel free to prepare podcasts and audiobooks to entertain you while recovering.
You should be able to see better and use your phone after two to three days and laptops and other screens after a week.
You’ll need to avoid eye makeup, face wash, and any facial products for the first week after LASEK, as it could cause severe irritation or infection, which you could have otherwise avoided.
After the first seven days, when you use facial products or makeup, you should avoid the eye area for at least the next two weeks.
Your eyesight may improve after the first week, but driving isn’t part of the equation.
Your doctor will tell you when driving will be appropriate again, but you should be fine to get behind the wheel within one to two weeks.
Avoid exercise for the first few weeks.
You can start with aerobic and low-impact exercise after the first two weeks, but higher-intensity activity should only begin again after three to four weeks.
You’ll also need to refrain from taking a shower for the first few days to prevent water and chemicals from harming the healing process.
You should opt for a bath instead of a shower, to ensure you keep water away from your eyes as they heal.
LASEK is a surgery that alters your cornea, so the recovery process for LASEK/PRK does carry a level of risk you must be aware of before making an informed decision. Complications are rare but still a possibility.
Any surgery leaves the risk of infection, and LASEK is no different.
The chances are scarce (one in 7,000 treatments), but if your eyes hurt, itch, become red, or release a yellow discharge, you’ll need to check with your doctor.
Sometimes the layer of skin cells loosened during LASEK doesn’t heal and attach correctly, and your doctor will need to remove it to allow the healing to restart.
The layer will then grow back naturally, taking longer to heal and blurring your vision for a few extra weeks.
Ectasia is when your cornea becomes weakened and flexible to the point of reshaping your eye. Ectasia makes your vision blurry and is accompanied by a return to being short-sighted.
Fortunately, ectasia is extremely rare after LASEK.
Your doctor will recommend other treatments to correct ectasia, such as collagen cross-linking.
The LASEK recovery process is most intense for the first few days, leaving your eyes light-sensitive, blurry, gritty, and teary, which means you’ll need to be off work.
Your eyes gradually heal, gain vision over the next few weeks, and fully heal after five to six months.
If you’re considering LASEK, schedule your free telephone consultation with a member of our team. They’ll be happy to discuss your treatment and go into more detail about what you can expect after the procedure.
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