Is it OK to work at my computer following LASIK? And if so, how soon?
Laser vision correction is a life changing procedure and makes your daily routines more easily handled without the hassles of contact lenses or glasses. LASIK is viewed as low impact surgical procedure, meaning that the healing is rather rapid and return to work can be as fast as the following day after the procedure. In fact, most patients do actually go back to work on day 1!
Having said that, there are some precautions and treatment protocols that we put into place to make to make sure that the healing proceeds normally. LASIK almost always causes a temporary dryness in the eyes that can last anywhere from a month to 4-6 months. It is highly unusual for the LASIK-related dry eye to last any longer than this. During this period, we recommend several things:
1) Frequent use of artificial tears that are available over the counter. They feel really good in the first few days if they are chilled, but they don’t have to be.
2) Use of Omega Three Fatty Acids – usually we recommend Fish Oil Omega Threes made by Nordic Naturals. A therapeutic dose is 2000mg daily by mouth
3) Some patients benefit from use of medication for dry eye. These are patients that are already dry prior to LASIK or those that we feel will be dry due to some additional risk factors that we see at preop. Risk factors include “large openings” between the lids (ie wide open eyes), use of computers daily, advanced age, female gender and far-sighted treatments. We prescribe Restasis or Xiidra for our patients and recommend that they start this before surgery and continue for several months.
4) Turn fans and vents away from the face for several months after surgery. Forced air blowing at the eyes dries the surface and makes things worse for the patients. Avoid ceiling fans at nite, they are not helpful!
5) COMPUTER use is fine to continue following LASIK and can start the next day without trouble. The caveat is that dry eye is caused by staring at screens and there have been multiple studies showing that our blinking rate drops 15 fold while we are on screens. In order to combat this, we strongly recommend using a reminder sticker on your monitor screen that says “BLINK!” on it so you don’t forget! This does not come easy, we must fight the urge to stare as it is a natural phenomenon. Frequent use of artificial tears while working on screens is also recommended.
If all of the above are done and the patient is compliant, computer use after LASIK will be comfortable and clear. If the patient is not doing any of the above and simply stares at screens all day expecting it to be fine without any treatment, they will be disappointed. The eyes will get dry and irritated, usually causing blurring and irritation while on the computer.