After the procedure, you'll be advised to rest for the remainder of the day and to continue using prescribed eye drops as instructed. During your Laser Vision Correction Procedures procedure, the protective layer of tissue on the surface of the eye, the epithelium, is removed from the central portion of the cornea. This protective tissue regenerates itself, and normally over a two to four day period the healing process is sufficiently completed such that the epithelium once again covers the entire surface of the eye.
During this healing process, some patients will experience varying degrees of discomfort. This can vary from a mild scratchy, burning, or foreign body feeling to more severe pain which is only minimally responsive to normal oral medications. Two options are available to reduce discomfort and promote healing. An eye patch can be applied to keep the eye closed or a soft contact lens can be inserted to protect the treated area while healing is under way. Studies have shown that most patients are more comfortable with the contact lens and eye drops than if the eye is patched. Patients who have difficulty wearing contact lenses may not be able to successfully wear the protective lenses and may experience greater than normal discomfort following Laser Vision Correction Procedures.
Although there is minimal risk of infection with either the use of the contact lens or the patch, the risk is thought to be slightly higher with the contact lens. In addition to the probability of experiencing less post-procedure discomfort, patients with the contact lens have their eye open, permitting useful (although blurry) vision, which is obviously not possible if the eye is patched.
Before you leave the Laser Vision Institute, you will be supplied a kit containing antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops, along with a schedule for their use. Care must be taken to avoid any contact with the eye during the period in which the sensitivity of the eye is reduced through use of the anesthetic drops. Because of the reduced sensitivity of the eye while using anesthetic eye drops, you might accidentally damage your eye without feeling the contact. You may also be provided with a prescription for oral medications, which can be used, should you experience discomfort, pain, or difficulty in getting to sleep.
You are likely to be sensitive to light and may not be able to see well enough to accomplish even simple tasks like reading a menu for two to three days following Laser Vision Correction Procedures. You will appreciate having a companion along.
You should certainly not drive during this period.
Patients typically return on the day following the procedure to confirm the fit of the protective contact lens and to ensure that the healing process is progressing satisfactorily. The epithelium usually regenerates itself sufficiently to cover the treated area within two to four days. During this period, a visit to the Laser Vision Institute or to your co-managing doctor may be required if discomfort persists.
If you are healing as anticipated and no particular discomfort is present, an eye doctor removes the protective lens on the third or fourth day following the procedure. In some cases, an additional day or two is required prior to removing the protective lens to ensure that the healing process is adequately advanced.
You should refrain from driving until your vision is sufficiently restored to make driving safe.
An surgeon will monitor your recovery and your continued use of eye drops. Steroid eye drops are often used after the procedure to reduce redness, eye irritation, and to regulate healing response. Regular follow-up visits are required, as the use of steroid eye drops can cause an increase in internal eye pressures for some patients. Follow-up evaluation visits are generally scheduled within ten days after the procedure, then as needed for the first six months after the procedure, with a final follow-up visit one year after the procedure.