Laser eye surgery has made giant leaps forward in the last decade, and the procedure is now safer, less intrusive and more effective than it has ever been. Most providers now offer laser eye surgery as an ambulatory procedure, which means you can walk in and out of the clinic by yourself and there’s no need to spend any recovery time in hospital – in fact, in some cases patients can return to work the next day, and usually require no more than three days off. And of course, one of the biggest benefits of the treatment for sports enthusiasts is that it allows them to play without the need to wear glasses or contact lenses.
However, as with any surgical procedure, it is vital to follow all your doctors’ recommendations to the letter and take as much time as you feel you need to recover. Many patients want to know how soon they start exercising in the gym, running or swimming after the procedure, but as tempting as it is to enjoy your new-found freedom by returning to the physical activities you enjoyed before your treatment, don’t forget to put your health first!
The good news is that you can exercise quite soon after laser eye surgery, as long as you take some precautions. It’s usually advised that you take a break from all forms of strenuous activity for a day or two after the procedure, but after that you can safely jog, run and work out in the gym. When running soon after surgery, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind and sun and keep your eyes lubricated with eye drops. Wear a sweatband to soak up any perspiration, which can be be painful if it runs down into your eyes.
You may need to rest a bit longer before swimming in a chlorinated pool, as the water tends to irritate the eyes and make it more likely that you will rub them, which can interfere with the healing process of the eyes. This is why your doctor will advise you to use eye drops rather than touching your eyes if they feel itchy. You are also more likely to pick an infection from swimming pool water while your eyes are healing, so it’s usually recommended that you avoid swimming for at least two weeks after surgery, and wear goggles for six weeks.
Contact sports and any activity more strenuous than running or working out are best avoided until your eyes have completely healed, which is usually around six to eight weeks after the procedure. However, ask your surgeon to see what they recommend – you may be able to play sports like tennis and squash as little as two weeks after treatment, as long as you wear eye protection. The same goes for activities like motorcycling, skiing and mountain biking. If any activity is causing excessive pain or irritation, stop doing it straight away and if in doubt, always check with your doctor – they should be happy to advise you.