Whether you’re driving or flying to a holiday destination or heading back to work after your corrective eye surgery, you may be asking yourself, “How soon can I travel after LASIK?” This is a valid question because you want to have the freedom to get yourself from point A to point B, but you also need to protect yourself and others while traveling.
How soon you can travel after your procedure depends on a number of factors, especially how your vision is improving overall. We’ve provided a few guidelines for driving, flying, vacationing, and operating commercial machinery and vehicles after LASIK—as well as a few tips for keeping your eyes healthy and staying safe on the road or in the air.
Driving Yourself after LASIK
Patients cannot drive themselves home after LASIK, so you’ll need a friend or loved one to take you to and from your surgery. This is because you’ll likely receive an oral sedative like Valium during your procedure, and the sedative takes a couple of hours to wear off. Your vision will also be slightly blurry after your procedure; this can last a few hours, which is typical for LASIK patients.
The Next Day
The good news is that you’ll probably be able to see well enough to drive yourself to your next-day follow-up appointment. In fact, over 90 percent of patients see 20/40 or better without corrective lenses the day after a LASIK procedure—which is well enough to drive. However, if you’re still having trouble seeing clearly, just ask your friend or loved one for another ride.
A Few Days Later
You may be more sensitive to light for a few days after LASIK, and you might not be comfortable with driving just yet. This is completely normal, and it’s always better to play it safe on the road. Your blurry vision and light sensitivity should disappear altogether within a few days, giving you the freedom to drive yourself again.
Flying and Vacationing after LASIK
During your LASIK follow-up appointment, your doctor will likely clear you to fly. So, if you want to book a flight to visit relatives or a new vacation spot for the holidays, you can travel soon after your procedure! If you’re still experiencing discomfort, blurry vision, or light sensitivity, flying with a friend or loved one is your safest option.
During Your Flight
The altitude pressurization in your airplane cabin (which lets the air around you remain at a near-normal pressure) probably won’t bother you, but the cabin’s low humidity might dry out your already sensitive eyes. You can prevent discomfort by using lubricating eye drops, sleeping, and avoiding eye-straining activities like reading and working on a computer. It’s also a great idea to drink extra water while flying to keep your eyes (and body) hydrated.
On Your Vacation
Even when you step off the plane, you’ll want to look out for your post-LASIK eye health. The FDA recommends that you avoid contact sports for one month—and swimming in pools, hot tubs, and the ocean for two months—after your procedure. So, if you’d like to travel to the beach or play a family football game over the holidays, you’ll want to plan your LASIK surgery accordingly.
Operating Commercial Machinery and Vehicles after LASIK
- Bus drivers
- Police officers
- Taxi drivers
- Truck drivers
- Uber and Lyft drivers
- And more
Your First Day Back
When you first come back to work (and even a few days afterward), you’ll want to take frequent, short breaks to rest your eyes and avoid drying them out. If you’re a pilot, truck driver, or another employee whose job makes it difficult to take breaks, talk to your doctor and employer about your options and the best time to return to work.
A Few Days Later
If you still have dry eyes or other discomforts a few days after your LASIK procedure, call your doctor. You should let your employer know as well, so he or she can help adjust your work schedule as needed. You’re responsible for your passengers, too, so it’s best to slowly take on your full responsibilities again so you’ll keep others safe on the road or in the air.
Everyone’s eyes are different, so it’s okay if your healing time and vision improvement don’t exactly follow these timelines. But, with a little extra care and communication with your doctor, employer, and loved ones, you can return to your daily activities soon after your LASIK procedure.
At Williamson Eye Institute, we are dedicated to assisting our patients with their vision and eye-related needs throughout the years. To find out more about our services, visit our website or call our office to schedule a personal consultation. You can also find us on Facebook or LinkedIn.