It’s hard to hit a ball that you cannot see and it’s difficult to dodge roots on a trail when your vision is blurred. Clear vision is an asset in most, if not all active lifestyles. Depending on the activity, the use of glasses or contacts can range anywhere from inconvenient to outright dangerous. Some activities do not even allow the use of glasses, as they can get in the way and can break. Contacts can be a better solution, but dirt and sweat can get under contacts, causing your eyes to sting and making it difficult to see. In some sports, such as swimming, your contacts may even fall out. Additionally, if you swim with your contacts, they can absorb bacteria, leading to an infection. LASIK or other refractive surgery, such as PRK, can be an excellent option for athletes looking to free themselves of their contacts or glasses. Below are some things you should know if you are an athlete, or even just someone who enjoys an active lifestyle, and are considering LASIK.
Some activities and sports put LASIK patients at a higher risk for complications than others, but most of those risks are avoidable if they take a proper break from training and allow their eyes to heal fully. The average recovery rate for LASIK is just two days. Depending on the activity, some people may need to take a little bit longer to heal before getting back to their daily grind. The length of time depends on the sport and activity level that is demanded. It is usually safe to get back to certain activities, like running, after just a few days. During LASIK, a corneal flap is made and lifted to aid the laser in reshaping the cornea. If the eye is hit before the patient has fully recovered from surgery, there is a risk of the corneal flap re-opening or becoming damaged and infected. It is important to listen to your doctor and to take recovery time seriously.
LASIK can be life-changing for those who swim competitively or just for fun. Gone are the days of feeling blind while in the pool or trying to keep water from splashing all over your glasses! Before jumping in, there are a few important tips to ensure an adequate recovery. First thing first, you need to allow time for the eyes to fully recover. Pools and untreated bodies of water such as lakes and oceans are known for bacteria that may cause an infection. Due to this, it is recommended to avoid the pool for two to four weeks as chlorine can cause irritation and the eyes are more susceptible to infections during this time frame. It is also important to take care of your eyes out of the water as well. Excessive sun exposure can also harm the eyes, if you are outside for more than fifteen minutes, it is recommended to wear UV protection!
Recovery is typically quick from LASIK; however, those who participate in contact sports such as basketball, baseball, football, or volleyball can put the patient at higher risks for complications if their eyes do not have an extra day or two to completely heal. After three or four days, easing back into sports is okay as long as the patient wears protective eyewear that can help prevent injuries from dust, jabs, bumps or falls. For those involved in contact sports, PRK or photorefractive keratectomy is an alternative option that will be safer than LASIK. During PRK, no flap is created – instead, the surface is carefully debrided and the same laser is used to reshape the cornea. While healing takes longer with PRK, results are comparable to LASIK with no risk of flap damage from accidentally being hit in the eye.
Skiing and snowboarding are a fun source of exercise that has an added bonus of great views! While LASIK can be rewarding and make things easier on the slopes, it can also cause harm if adequate time is not taken to heal. As mentioned above, the eyes are more susceptible to infection within the first few days after LASIK. When skiing and snowboarding, the effects from snow or cold, brisk wind getting into your eyes can cause severe irritation or infection that can prolong the recovery. There is also bright light from sunlight reflecting off the fresh, white powder as you ski. Due to this, it is important to wear protection such as goggles that help reduce the impacts of direct sunlight and are impact resistant that can protect the eyes from snow, wind and colder temperatures that could cause them to be drier than normal. We recommend having preservative-free eye drops handy to ease any dryness and keep your eyes comfortable while being active at higher altitudes.
The average downtime for LASIK is about one to two days; however, if you are used to lifting weights or are active with CrossFit, it is recommended to wait three to four days before hitting the gym again. Even if you try to ease back into exercising, you can accidentally irritate or strain the eyes which can cause more harm than good. After the fourth day, start small. Low-intensity training with light weights and the elliptical are okay. We recommend avoiding any high-intensity workouts that could get your heart rate up or make you sweat for a few additional days. If you do break into a small sweat, try to avoid it from going into your eyes by using a towel as this can cause irritation and the need to rub your eyes which could make things worse and prolong your recovery.
Whether you are Olympics bound or you just enjoy playing the game, LASIK or PRK can improve your performance by freeing you from the inconvenience of glasses or contacts. To learn if you are a good candidate for LASIK surgery, call Milan Eye Center today at (678) 681-9834 and book a free initial consultation appointment.
Learn more about LASIK through our Comprehensive Guide For LASIK.