Will LASIK Affect My Travel Plans?

October 22nd, 2018
young woman at airport

In most cases, it’s safe to travel after LASIK surgery. However, make sure to keep in mind recovery time and environmental conditions in the location you’ll be visiting.

There are numerous benefits to LASIK surgery: it’s relatively inexpensive, highly effective, and performed in the comfort of your doctor’s office. To top it all off, the recovery time is extremely fast. Many people even return to work the very next day.

But, does LASIK’s short recovery time mean that you can travel immediately after the surgery? Well, it depends. It’s best to ask your doctor for his or her recommendations based on your specific set of circumstances, but these post-LASIK travel guidelines are a good rule of thumb:

Getting Home After Laser Eye Surgery

Since the operation occurs in the doctor’s office, you’ll need to get back home soon after surgery. It is not a good idea to drive yourself home after the procedure. LASIK doesn’t involve the anesthesia typically used during hospital-based surgeries, but LASIK patients often receive some sedation or an anti-anxiety drug like Valium to help them remain calm and comfortable during the procedure.

The effects of these medications usually don’t fully wear off until 24 hours after the surgery is over, so it’s best for someone else to drive the patient home. If the patient has to come in for a post-operative check-up the day after the surgery, they should be okay to drive by then.

Work Travel after LASIK

Traveling for work isn’t always a strict “no” after LASIK, but its safety depends heavily on the type of travel. As a general rule, if traveling is your job — say you’re a long-haul trucker or a pilot — it’s a good idea to take some extra time after the procedure to recover. Although the LASIK procedure is minimally invasive, it requires your surgeon to make an incision in the cornea.

That incision is very small, but it still requires time, a safe environment, and plenty of moisture to heal. Unfortunately, driving a truck or piloting an airplane requires you to keep your eyes open for many hours at a time, which can make them dry and impede the healing process. In those cases, it might be better to take a few days off, but that’s something that you and your eye doctor can decide together.

Vacations during LASIK Recovery

Patients commonly schedule the LASIK procedure during a holiday break, so they may have travel plans shortly after. Usually, air travel is fine after LASIK, but some caution is warranted. It’s still not a good idea to keep your eyes open for long stretches of time, so opt for a nap over an in-flight movie or a book. Because airplane cabin air is substantially drier than normal air, there’s a greater than usual risk of developing dry eyes. That means that it’s also important to make liberal use of the artificial tears prescribed by your doctor while you’re up in the air.

Once you get to your vacation destination, it’s smart to avoid swimming pools, hot tubs and jacuzzis because the incision in your eye is still healing and prone to infection. It’s also a good idea to avoid contact sports during that time since your eye will be a little more delicate than usual.

The good news is that once your eyes are completely healed, travel will be far more convenient than it was prior to your LASIK operation. LASIK is a great option for jet setters — everyone knows that traveling with glasses and contact lenses is a huge hassle. If you’re interested in a life of clear vision, contact ICON Eyecare to set up an initial consultation today.

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