LASIK surgery requires a small incision into your eye tissue. And, wherever you’ve experienced an incision, you are at risk for infection. Fortunately, here at the Atlantic Eye Institute, post LASIK infections are incredibly rare.
While we do our part in reducing the risk of infection after LASIK, patients need to do their part as well.
Tips To Reduce The Risk Of Infection After LASIK Eye Surgery
The following are some of the tips you can take to reduce your chance of developing an infection or other post-surgical complications after your LASIK procedure.
Choose a LASIK surgeon with great, post-op statistics
One of the best ways you can prevent getting an infection is to choose a qualified, experienced LASIK surgeon with great statistics. The better the surgeon and the surgery center are, the more confidence you can have in their cleanliness and sanitation practices – as well as their evidence-based attention to the best post-operative procedures and care.
According to a 2019 issue of the Oman Journal of Ophthalmology, eye infections after LASIK surgery (called infection keratitis), occur in less than 1% (0.035%) of LASIK patients. As a result, LASIK surgery has the very lowest rates of infection when compared with any other type of eye surgery.
Visit our post, Things to Consider When Choosing a LASIK Surgeon, to learn more about what you should look for – and what to ask – when selecting the best LASIK center and surgeon for your vision care.
Take care of yourself to avoid infection after LASIK
A healthy body and a healthy immune system are powerful weapons against debilitating infection. Use healthy lifestyle choices and practices to keep your immune system at its best. This includes things like:
- Eating well
- Managing existing health conditions
- Exercising regularly
- Getting good sleep
- Reducing stress
- Observing recommended protocols to avoid COVID-19
- Quit smoking
Physical health is so integral to a successful LASIK outcome that your LASIK surgeon will perform a full health screening to make sure you are a qualifying candidate. If existing health conditions put you at a higher risk for post-LASIK infection or complications, we’ll discuss your other options in detail.
Treat existing condition(s) or wait until your doctor gives you the clear
Certain conditions increase your risk of infection after LASIK. These include,
Treating dry eye and managing diabetes may mean your physician will give you the go-ahead. Other conditions, such as thin or irregular corneas, autoimmune disorders, having large pupils, or if you are over the age of 60, your surgeon will discuss alternatives that will offer better overall outcomes.
Read 8 Criteria For a Good Lasik Candidate to see if you can check off all the boxes.
Use the prescribed eye drops as directed
One of the reasons post-LASIK infections are rare is that the corneal flap acts as a band-aid of sorts. Even so, the micro-incisions need to be protected. You’ll be given prescription antibiotic eye drops to use as directed during the recovery period.
It is essential that you follow the instructions and continue to use the drops for the prescribed duration, even if your eyes look and feel normal. These drops are a powerful weapon against potential bacterial infection.
Do not rub, touch, or scratch your eyes
If you pay attention, you probably rub your eyes more often than you think. We’re apt to rub our eyes when we wake up in the morning, when they itch when we’ve been staring at a computer for too long, or when we’re tired. However, it’s essential to curb this habit altogether for the first couple of weeks after your surgery.
Most patients find that the urge to rub the eyes can be quelled by using the lubricating eye drops and blinking a few times.
Keep the eyes moist
Dry eye is a common side effect of LASIK and can last for a few weeks or more until the eye is fully healed. Even if your eyes don’t feel particularly dry, moisturizing the cornea helps to provide soothing relief and supports the eyes’ natural cleaning function.
Just as you’ll be sent home with antibiotic drops, you will also be provided with lubricating eye drops (artificial tears) that are free of potentially irritating chemicals/preservatives. These drops are designed to mimic your eyes’ natural tears, with a little extra lubrication.
Use them liberally and as needed to prevent the discomfort of dry eye symptoms, to minimize your urge to rub your eyes, and to help the eye tissues to heal faster.
Avoid smoky or dusty environments
Have a family member who smokes indoors? S/he should refrain from doing so for at least six weeks after your surgery to prevent infection and eye irritation. Similarly, dusty environments also elevate your risk of eye irritation or infection after LASIK. If possible, avoid gardening during the post-surgical recovery period. If you are an avid gardener, your doctor will recommend scheduling surgery for a time of year where your garden and yard are more dormant.
Wearing wrap-around protective lenses when you are outdoors can help prevent dust, pollen, and other irritants from getting in your eyes. And, again, don’t be shy with the artificial tear drops to keep irritants flushed away from your eyes’ surfaces.
Signs Of An Infection After LASIK
Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon if you are worried you may have an infection. While it is true that post-LASIK infections are rare, it is also a fact that the earlier we catch an infection, the easier it is to treat. Early treatment is essential for optimizing your vision down the road.
Some of the signs that you may be experiencing an infection after your LASIK procedure include:
- Redness or eye irritation that does not go away as the doctor advised
- Eye pain
- Excessive tearing, not related to eye drops
- Hazy vision
- Having to use your glasses past the recovery time and still experiencing poor vision
- Extreme light sensitivity
Odds are, you will never experience any of the above symptoms because you’ve chosen Atlantic Eye Institute where the risks of infection after LASIK are very rare!