Author: Dr Val Phua MBBS, MMed (Ophth), FRCOphth, FAMS
Photo by: Yanalya
Time is a precious commodity that can never be gained back once it is lost. Given the immense pressure to be productive and excel, taking a long stretch off work for post surgery recovery would be an unacceptable exchange. However, the axiom “no pain, no gain” may not be so applicable when it comes to femto-LASIK (Bladeless LASIK) because the post surgical care is not as prolonged as you may think. What can you expect on the day of surgery and during the follow up period?
The day of surgery
As the day of your surgery arrives, many will feel a mix of hopeful anticipation as well as anxiety. Remember that you should not be wearing contact lenses in the lead up to this point. Turn up at your appointed time slot in comfortable clothes and although the procedure itself is quick, you should set aside about 2 hours for the entire process. There are no restrictions on food and drink prior to the procedure. It is also prudent to make arrangements for transport home after the procedure. Before entering the laser suite, your eyelids and lashes will be cleaned and antibiotic eye drops will be given.
Numbing eye drops are given to make you comfortable throughout the procedure, and the eyelids are held open with a small clip. The eye is then held firmly by a machine while laser is applied to create the LASIK flap. During this time you will feel a pressure on the eye but don’t worry, it will be over in less than 30 seconds. This flap is then lifted and the eye prepared for the corrective laser. The corrective laser reshapes the cornea in seconds depending on the magnitude of the degree in the eye and the flap is then placed back on. A bandage contact lens is applied and the clip removed. The steps are then repeated for the other eye. The entire process takes about 15 minutes.
The post surgery care
Some mild discomfort and a foreign body sensation is common in the early post-operative period so don’t be alarmed if you feel as if there is something in your eye. Some may also find the eyes more sensitive to light and will be more comfortable with sunglasses. Protective goggles are given to prevent accidental rubbing of the eye while sleeping. Antibiotic and steroid eye drops are given for about a week to prevent infection and aid healing. Most patients experience minimal discomfort with some even going back to work the very next day. In the first week of recovery, avoid rubbing your eyes and vigorous exercise. Other activities like swimming and even diving can be safely resumed after 1 month of recovery. During this early phase of recovery, it is common to experience dry eye symptoms. Use the lubricating eye drops liberally to minimise discomfort. The eyes do continue to heal over the ensuing months and you can expect the vision to get slightly better with some time.
Overall, with femto-LASIK, patients recover quickly with minimal downtime, keeping any disruptions to work or planned holidays within a very manageable window.