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Helpful hints after an ASLA laser eye surgery procedure

24/08/2017

Helpful hints after an ASLA laser eye surgery procedure

Today, when people think about laser vision correction, they often think LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis). While LASIK is appropriate for many patients, there are some people it isn’t suitable for. An example is those with thin or irregularly shaped corneas.

As long as your eye is otherwise healthy and your prescription isn’t unusually high, you will most likely qualify for another form of laser eye surgery – ASLA (Advanced Surface Laser Ablation), which is also known as PRK (photorefractive keratectomy).

If ASLA laser eye surgery has been recommended for you, you can rest assured that the actual visual outcome is the same for both LASIK and ASLA procedures. However, there are a few considerations to be aware of during recovery.

Recovery time from ASLA

Because ASLA is a surface laser eye surgery procedure (i.e. no flap is created), it requires a longer period to recover. Your surgeon will recommend you take about 5 days off work, so you’ll need to fit that into your schedule. You will also find that your eyesight fluctuates over the first few weeks – in particular, your near vision may vary. This is completely normal; in fact, you should expect this to happen for up to 6 weeks after your ASLA laser eye surgery procedure. The fluctuations will lessen within a week, and you’ll be able to go about your day-to-day business. With time, it will settle down.

The first 3–5 days

During your ASLA procedure, you will feel some sensation but no pain. However, during recovery from ASLA laser eye surgery, some discomfort is normal – your surgeon will provide you with medication and drops to take home with you after your procedure. If you are worried about pain levels, you can ask your doctor for more medication during the post-operative consultation. Although it varies, day two post-procedure is generally the most uncomfortable day for most people. As your epithelium (surface) cells are beginning to regenerate, the pain will come and go. Some patients will be worried – again, this is completely normal and will pass.

Recovery recommendations

During the first 2–3 days post-ASLA laser eye surgery, watching television, reading or looking at a computer may be uncomfortable. We recommend the following alternatives instead following:

  • Download audiobooks before your procedure
  • Load your MP3 player with music before your procedure
  • Catch up on lost sleep
  • Engage friends and family members in telephone conversations.

Around day four you can begin to engage in normal activities.

Dry eye and ASLA

Expect to experience discomfort from dry eye during the first 2–3 weeks post-laser eye surgery. This is because the surgery has temporarily reduced corneal nerve sensitivity, and your eye does not sense the need for lubrication, resulting in reduced tear production. You have gritty eyes or feel that there is ‘something in your eye’. It’s especially noticeable when you wake up. You’ll be given lubricating drops – use them as directed.

It’s temporary

The first few days can be a little challenging. However, the discomfort and pain should subside within the first week and your eyesight will settle with time. Being prepared for what to expect as part of the healing process will help you recover as smoothly as possible.

Find out more about laser eye surgery

References

  1. Choice. A guide to laser eye surgery. NSW, 11 August 2020. Available at https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/optical-and-hearing/optical/articles/guide-to-laser-eye-surgery [Accessed 6 January 2021].
  2. Healthdirect. Laser eye surgery. NSW, 2019. Available at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/laser-eye-surgery [Accessed 6 January 2021].
  3. Lawless M. Refractive Laser Surgery: Who’s Interested Now? mivision 2019;141:33–37.
  4. Wilkinson JM, Cozine EW, Kahn AR. Refractive Eye Surgery: Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions About LASIK. Am Fam Physician 2017;95(10):637–44.

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The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

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