LASIK’s accessibility and high success rate make it one of the most common eye procedures in the world.

Around 20-25 million LASIK surgeries have been carried out in the U.S. alone since 1999.

Over 90% of LASIK patients achieve 20/20 or better vision, according to the American Refractive Surgery Council. What’s more, over 96% of patients report being satisfied after LASIK according to the same source.

With that in mind, LASIK involves a recovery period during which you may experience vision changes and other side effects. Today, we explain LASIK recovery time and show you how to help your eyes heal faster after this procedure.

LASIK Explained

LASIK stands for Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. During LASIK, an eye surgeon uses a high-precision laser to permanently reshape the cornea to correct a refractive error such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.

The cornea is a transparent layer that covers the front of the eye. In addition to protecting the eye, it refracts light and helps light rays focus on the retina to enable vision.

closeup of woman's green eye, eyebrow, and straight hair with lighted face against green background

Some people are born with a corneal curve or shape that affects their eyesight. Others develop changes to their cornea with age or because of injury or other factors. LASIK can help correct some of these changes.

During the procedure, your eye surgeon uses a laser to cut a flap in the cornea. After folding back this flap, the eye doctor uses laser again to reshape a part of the cornea.

What Eye Symptoms Does LASIK Cause?

After LASIK, you may experience a variety of eye symptoms ranging from mild to annoying. Post LASIK symptoms can include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Eye discomfort
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Glare
  • Double vision
  • Poorer vision in dim light (dusk or fog)

LASIK surgery and dry eyes go hand in hand. Dry eye is the most prevalent symptom after LASIK, with up to 95% of patients experiencing it.

To create the flap in the cornea, your eye doctor has to cut through some corneal nerves. Until your eyes heal, your tear film may be unevenly distributed over the surface of your eyes.

LASIK Recovery Timeline – What to Expect

LASIK eye surgery recovery time usually takes between two to six months. Recovery time after LASIK depends on age, genetics, and the severity of the condition.

For a quick recovery, follow your doctor’s instructions. The following LASIK timeline is only a broad estimate of what you can expect.

  • 3+ hours after LASIK – Your vision begins to clear.
  • 24 to 48 hours after LASIK – As the numbing agent wears off, you may have eye discomfort, itchiness, light sensitivity, and dry eyes.
  • 1 week after LASIK – Your eyes will continue to feel irritated and dry, but light sensitivity may lessen. Still, it’s good to continue wearing sunglasses outdoors.
  • 2 weeks to 1 month after LASIK – Eye irritation should have lessened by now though your eyes may continue to feel dry.
  • 2 to 6 months after LASIK – Your eyes should have healed after the procedure and no longer feel dry, itchy, or uncomfortable.
  • 6 months after LASIK – Some patients may continue to experience dry eyes and other eye discomfort 6 months after LASIK.

female eye doctor with red notebook smiling and talking with man who sits with arms on chest and with eye exam equipment in the background

If your eye symptoms after LASIK worry you or if they last beyond a few weeks, discuss your concerns with your doctor.

LASIK Surgery and Dry Eyes

One of the most frequent aftereffects of LASIK is dry eyes, or a feeling of having something in your eye.

Your eye doctor will likely recommend a treatment for dry eyes after LASIK that may include medication and eye drops. For most people, LASIK dry eyes begin to go away within weeks or months.

Permanent dry eyes after LASIK is not common but may occur in rare cases. Since chronic dry eye can have multiple causes, it’s important to investigate whether other factors like lifestyle, computer use, diet, or underlying medical conditions may contribute to it.

Good to know: If you already have dry eye before LASIK, the surgery can worsen your symptoms. Your eye doctor may delay LASIK until your dry eye disease is under control.

Tips to Help Your Eyes Recover After LASIK

Making a full recovery after LASIK becomes easier if you keep a few things in mind.

  • Sleep well and rest your eyes. Limit screen time and avoid caffeine at night. Rest will help your eyes heal after LASIK. Avoid showering right after surgery and don't swim without protection goggles for at least 5 weeks.
  • Take the prescription medication your doctor gives you. To alleviate post-surgery symptoms and support recovery your eye doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops and pain relievers.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes even if you feel the itch to. If you do, the corneal incision won’t heal as quickly, and the risk of an eye infection will also increase.
  • Wear eye protection. After the procedure, wear the eye shield or goggles your doctor gives you even during the night to prevent recovery complications.
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors. Your eyes are sensitive to UV damage after the surgery. That’s why it’s important to wear sunglasses with UV protection in the weeks following the surgery. Wearing sunglasses outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your eyes, so keep the habit up.
  • Avoid strenuous activities in the first week after surgery. Take a break from weightlifting, contact sports, or any form of heavy work or training.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water alleviates dry eye symptoms. Keep near you a reusable water bottle to remind you to drink water regularly. Avoid coffee and alcohol.
  • Stay away from eye irritants like smoke, dust, strong wind, or pollution. Irritants can worsen your eye symptoms after LASIK and slow down your recovery.
  • Keep your home clean. A clean environment reduces the risk of irritation and infection. It’s best to clean your home of dust and allergens like pet dander before you return home from surgery. Consider also installing an air purifier if you don’t have one already.
woman in olive green shirt with hair behind her in a bandana cleaning home by wiping dust from TV

In addition to these LASIK recovery tips, you may also want to take an eye health supplement that supports overall eye health.

SightC is a superfood blend that provides lutein, zeaxanthin, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients that your eyes need to stay healthy. Find out more about SightC.

LASIK Surgery Recovery FAQS

Why is there a shorter recovery period after LASIK?

Most people who undergo LASIK can return to work within a matter of days after surgery. This is shorter than other types of eye surgery.

A quick LASIK eye surgery recovery time is possible because the procedure is minimally invasive and highly precise.

How long is recovery after LASIK eye surgery?

Many patients see clearly within a day after undergoing LASIK surgery and can resume normal life.

It usually takes up to 3 months for the eye to heal, during which symptoms like dry eyes or light sensitivity may persist. In some cases, vision symptoms may last for 3 months or longer. 

Can you run after LASIK surgery?

You can go back to running one week after undergoing LASIK. If you are a professional runner and need to return to training faster, you may do so within as little as two days after the procedure with your doctor’s consent.

In the case of weightlifting, you can return to the gym around two weeks after the surgery. For high impact sports like boxing or martial arts, it’s best to give yourself at least a month after LASIK.

The Takeaway

LASIK recovery isn’t difficult so long as you follow your doctor’s advice, protect your eyes, and avoid strenuous exercise, contact sports, and swimming immediately after the surgery.

With that in mind, LASIK dry eye occurs often, and in some cases, it can last for six months or longer. If you are concerned about this, talk with your doctor and consider taking an eye health supplement.

In the end, recovering from LASIK can be an opportunity to review your eye care practices and improve them.

woman working at her computer in white room and smiling slightly after having undergone LASIK surgery


Dayana said:

So helpful!! Thank you for your insights :)

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