How Long After LASIK Can I Rub My Eyes?

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LASIK, also known as laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is a procedure designed to correct refractive errors in the eye. A refractive error is generally caused by an abnormally-shaped cornea – the front surface of the eye. The abnormal shape disturbs the way light is refracted into the back of the eye.

There are three primary types of refractive errors – myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Myopia – also known as nearsightedness, patients have difficulty seeing objects at a distance.
  • Hyperopia – also known as farsightedness, patients have difficulty seeing objects nearby.
  • Astigmatism – patients have difficulty seeing both nearby and distant objects.

During the LASIK procedure, an eye surgeon uses a laser to vaporize tissue in the cornea. This process helps reshape the cornea, allowing light to be refracted onto the retina properly – correcting vision. It’s a safe, effective, popular, and more permanent alternative to wearing eye glasses or contact lenses.

When is it Safe to Rub Your Eyes After LASIK?

After a patient undergoes LASIK surgery, they’ll be directed to wear eye protection (usually an eye shield or goggles) for at least one week – though the exact time will vary with each patient. As the eye continues to heal, the eye doctor will have a variety of directions and recommendations for the patient to follow.

During this time, rubbing the eye is strictly prohibited and most eye doctors recommend not rubbing the eye for at least a month following eye surgery. Patients must fight the urges and temptations – which are common in the days and/or weeks after surgery. If the urges progress, wear the eye shield as a deflector.

Even then, eye-rubbing is something best avoided at all times – whether you have an eye condition or healthy eyes. Rubbing the eyes can result in a number of seriously harmful consequences and puts your eyes at risk. Instead, get in the habit of using artificial tears (eye drops) or applying a clean, damp cloth over the eye.

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What Happens When You Rub Your Eyes?

In order to reshape the cornea, the eye surgeon must first make a tiny incision in the eye – creating a corneal flap. This flap can take a few weeks to a few months to fully heal. When a patient rubs their eye after surgery, they run the risk of dislodging or displacing the corneal flap, halting the body’s natural healing process.

Outside of that, there are several other risks and potential side effects to rubbing your eyes. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Small blood vessels break in or around the eye
  • Exposure to bacteria and germs from hands
  • Corneal abrasion, if there’s a foreign object in the eye
  • Progressive myopia can worsen
  • Increased eye pressure, nerve damage, and/or poor blood flow
  • Keratoconus, or thinning of the cornea
  • Eye injury, eye infection, and/or recurring eye infections
  • Distorted vision
  • Increased risk of retinal tear or retinal detachment
  • Dark circles underneath the eye
  • Worsened allergy symptoms

There are a number of reasons why the eyes might itch – some of the most common being dry eye disease, allergies, foreign objects in the eye, infections, and blepharitis. It’s also a common side effect following laser vision correction surgery. If the itch becomes excessive, don’t hesitate to notify your eye doctor.

How to Wash Your Face After LASIK

Most eye doctors are going to recommend avoiding most water activities for some time after refractive surgery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shower or wash your face. The general rule for LASIK patients is to avoid getting any water in or around the eyes – as well as avoiding rubbing or touching the eyes.

While that makes washing the face difficult, it’s not impossible and can be done if the patient is careful. This usually requires controlled circular motions on only the areas you want to clean. Make sure you don’t splash anything in your eyes. When you pat your face dry, avoid rubbing or patting the eyes and surrounding area.

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Other Precautions to Take Following LASIK Surgery

Once the LASIK procedure is complete, the eye surgeon will give the patient a long list of directions and recommendations to follow throughout the healing process. Following the doctor’s advice is crucial to ensuring a speedy and successful recovery, allowing the eyes to heal in a controlled environment.

Here are some of the most general and basic precautions to take after Lasik Eye Surgery Milwaukee:

  • Wait at least 24 hours before showering or washing your face
  • Avoid getting water or soap in or around your eyes
  • Wait at least one week before applying eye makeup
  • Try to avoid dusty and/or windy environments
  • Take the eye drops prescribed to you, if available
  • Wear sunglasses when outside, especially on a sunny day
  • Wait at least two weeks before swimming or using a hot tub
  • Wait at least one month before doing any strenuous activities

While patients are often limited in the weeks and months following the procedure, it’s a small price to pay for improved vision. The good news is most patients will experience an improvement in vision right away and while the recovery period might last a few months, they’ll get to enjoy clearer and brighter vision.

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Are You a Quality Candidate for LASIK Eye Surgery?

LASIK eye surgery can be life-changing for some people, but not everyone is a quality candidate and some people could be at a greater risk of complications due to the surgery. For this reason, eye doctors won’t recommend the surgery to all patients, unless the loss of vision is greater than the risk involved.

Here are some of the most prominent qualities of a good LASIK candidate:

  • You’re above the age of 18
  • Your eye prescription is stable
  • You’re in good overall health
  • You’re free of dry eye disease
  • Your prescription is within FDA-approved treatment parameters
  • Your cornea isn’t too thin
  • You don’t have any eye conditions
  • You have a general need for the surgery

For those that aren’t a good candidate for LASIK surgery, don’t panic – there are a number of alternatives that could give you the vision you desire. Some of the most common include a refractive lens exchange, LASEK, SMILE, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs), and much more.

Schedule an Appointment With Us Today!

Are you having a hard time seeing from a distance, from close, or both? Are you worried you might have a refractive error and want a professional opinion about what to do next? Do you want to learn if you’re a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery? If you answered yes to either of those questions, we can help!

At Milwaukee Eye Surgeons, we’re dedicated to ensuring the Milwaukee community has access to quality eye care services. Whether you’re ready to start talking about LASIK surgery or want to schedule a comprehensive eye exam – which should be scheduled annually – then don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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