Refractive corneal surgery - discharge

You had refractive corneal surgery to help improve your vision. This surgery corrects mild-to-moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism by using a laser to re-shape your cornea. You will be less dependant on glasses or contacts. Sometimes, you will no longer need glasses.

Your surgery probably took less than 30 minutes. You may have had the surgery in both eyes.

What to Expect at Home

You will have a shield over your eye when you go home after surgery. This will keep you from rubbing or putting pressure on your eye. It will also protect your eye from being hit or poked.

Symptoms or problems you may have at first are:

  • For the first day or so, you may have mild pain, a burning or scratchy feeling, tearing, light sensitivity, and hazy or blurred vision. For PRK, these symptoms will last a few days longer.
  • The whites of your eyes may look red or bloodshot for up to three weeks after surgery.
  • You may have dry eyes for up three months.

For 1 - 6 months after surgery, you may:

  • Notice glare, starbursts, or halos in your eyes, especially when you are driving at night. This should be better in 3 months.
  • Have fluctuating vision for the first 6 months.

Self-care and Follow-up

You will probably see your doctor 1 or 2 days after surgery. Your doctor will tell you what activities you can do. Common guidelines are:

  • Take a few days off of work after surgery until most of your symptoms get better.
  • Avoid all noncontact activities (such as bicycling and working out at the gym) for at least 3 days after surgery.
  • Avoid contact sports (such as boxing and football) for the first 4 weeks after surgery.
  • Do not swim or use a hot tub or whirlpool for about 2 weeks. (Ask your doctor)

Your doctor will give you eye drops to help prevent infection and reduce inflammation and soreness.

You will need to take care of your eyes:

  • Do NOT rub or squeeze your eyes. Rubbing and squeezing could dislodge the flap, especially during the day of your surgery. If this happens, you will need another surgery to repair it. Starting the day after surgery, it should be okay to use artificial tears. Check with your doctor.
  • Do NOT wear contact lenses on the eye that had surgery, even if you have blurry vision.
  • Do NOT use any makeup, creams, or lotions around your eye for the first 2 weeks.
  • Always protect your eyes from being hit or bumped.
  • Always wear sunglasses when in the sun.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • A steady decrease in vision
  • A steady increase in pain
  • Any new problem or symptom with your eyes, such as floaters, flashing lights, double vision, or light sensitivity

Alternate Names

Nearsightedness surgery - discharge; Laser vision correction - discharge; Refractive surgery - discharge; LASIK - discharge; PRK - discharge


Steinert RF, Mccolgin AZ. LASIK. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duaneā€™s Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 49.

Mimura T, Azar DT. Refractive surgery. Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2008:chap 3.1.

Wilkinson PS, Davis EA, Hardten DR. Lasik. Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2008:chap 3.5.

Update Date: 3/15/2011

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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