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What Should I Expect from Eye Surgery?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Although there are various types of eye surgery, the most common is Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery used to correct vision in those with certain disorders. Patients who undergo this procedure can expect to spend roughly 15 to 20 minutes in actual surgery and then two to three days recovering at home. There is generally very little pain, although some discomfort is common and may be treated with mild pain medication. Other eye symptoms like glare and halos around bright lights may also occur.

In most cases, eye surgery is uncomplicated and takes under 15 minutes to complete. This may vary based on the type of laser being used. LASIK surgery is used to improve vision by changing the shape of the eye. The procedure generally doesn’t cause much pain.

After the operation is complete, patients are typically allowed to go home for recovery. A visit to the doctor who performed the surgery is often required within 48 hours. Symptoms which are common during the recovery period are itching, tearing and watery eyes, and the feeling of having something in the eye. Sensitivity to light, halos, and glare are also common. It is important that patients do not rub the eyes during this time to avoid damage.

If severe pain or a dramatic decrease in vision takes place, a doctor should be notified immediately. These symptoms are very rare but may indicate a serious complication. In most patients, healing only takes a few days to complete. Other types of laser surgery generally have a similar recovery period.

There are also many non-laser surgeries which may be performed. These are generally more involved and may require a longer and more painful recovery period, although this is not always the case. The most common surgeries are used to implant permanent contact lenses over the eye or to correct corneal shape with a blade. These are used infrequently now that laser therapies are available and have proven to be more effective.

Symptoms to expect after eye surgery that does not use a laser are similar to LASIK and other laser eye therapies. Irritation, mild pain, and tenderness to light are the most common. The same precautions and warning signs still apply.

After eye surgery, patients can generally expect to see an increase in vision almost immediately. Oftentimes glasses or contact lenses are totally replaced or may need to be used much less frequently. Once the initial sensitivity and irritation subsides, many patients have perfect vision.

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