Traveling After LASIK Surgery
Let’s face it, one of the most common reasons people have LASIK is to free themselves of the daily hassles of their dependency on their eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. Put another way, they are trying to gain visual freedom for themselves.
LASIK is very good at giving patients visual freedom. Worldwide, the vast majority of patients that have LASIK no longer need their eyeglasses or contact lenses at all.
However, for some older patients, reading glasses will be required for some activities depending on which vision correction strategy you and your doctor decided on. At 20/20 Institute, 99 percent of the patients that have LASIK with us achieve 20/20 or better vision after their procedure.*
Once a patient achieves their visual freedom, they are motivated to do more of the things in life they may have felt their glasses and contacts held them back from doing. We have heard from our patients about the many exciting things that are more enjoyable after having LASIK. Swimming, biking, jogging, hiking, working out, showering and, believe it or not, even working on their computer at work has made the list of improved activities post LASIK.
Perhaps one of the most common motivations for having LASIK is an exciting upcoming vacation. Many times in LASIK consultations at our offices, patients will say the reason they are looking into LASIK at this particular time is that they have a big trip planned and they do not want glasses and contacts lenses with them along for the ride.
One of the main advantages of LASIK is that it is very patient friendly and requires very little downtime for the patient to recover. So, if you have a big vacation or trip upcoming and you’d like to plan accordingly to safely fit LASIK into the timing of that trip, here is what you should keep in mind.
For the average patient, a routine LASIK procedure goes something like this. After an initial hour or so consultation with the doctor to determine one’s LASIK candidacy, a patient can schedule their LASIK procedure as soon as the next day, if they are deemed a good candidate for LASIK and if the surgery schedule permits and contact lenses have been out long enough to help ensure a safe and accurate LASIK outcome (usually one to two weeks depending on the lenses and the patients’ wearing schedule).
LASIK is performed in our in-office procedure suite. There is no need to go to a hospital or an outpatient surgery center.
The day of the LASIK procedure, we ask that the patient bring someone to drive them home. Although LASIK only takes five to seven minutes per eye to perform, considering the prep and recovery time, the patient is only at the office one and a half hours on their procedure day.
Recovery time is fast with LASIK. Most patients return home to take a four or five hour nap (usually with some assistance from a medication the doctor prescribed). When the patient returns to the office the next morning, they are usually seeing 20/20 or better without glasses. Some eyeglass prescriptions take a little longer to achieve their best corrected vision. However, almost all patients see well enough without glasses to legally pass a driver’s vision test the next morning.
“Well, doctor, now that I can see 20/20 or better so quickly, am I fine to travel?”
The answer is it depends. Recovery from LASIK is different from totally healed. It is true that even the next day following a LASIK procedure it is possible for patients to travel. Over the years, although not advisable, we have had many patients leave for Las Vegas the next day.
There are some important things to consider before booking your post-LASIK travel.
The eye doctors will ask you to take medicated eye drops for about one week. Most importantly, the corneal flap, an important part of the LASIK procedure, takes one to two weeks to heal. During that time, several restrictions are advised. No swimming and no eye rubbing are strongly recommended. It’s true that you can travel and avoid swimming and eye rubbing, however if a complication occurs during healing its advisable to be close to Denver.
If a patient is traveling and they will be in, or near, a metropolitan area that has many experienced LASIK providers, then traveling is not as concerning as a two week vacation to Bora Bora.
The other consideration in planning travel around LASIK is the postoperative appointments that we typically occur in our local office. We generally ask our patients to return to our office three times in the first six weeks after LASIK. One day after LASIK, then three to seven days, and once more at four to six weeks after the LASIK procedures. A patients’ travel schedule should try and work around these follow up times.
In summary, the best post-LASIK travel schedule looks something like this: a patient sticks around Denver for four to seven days after their procedure (10 days to two weeks if they are traveling to a remote location in the world) and then the patient returns to Denver before their four to six week follow up at 20/20 Institute. If a patient adheres to these guidelines, then travel should be fine. Happy trails!