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LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is often the refractive surgery of choice due to its virtually painless nature, and rapid recovery time. Most patients have highly functioning vision within 24 hours of their surgery, however, everyone heals differently. As you’re recovering from LASIK, you may wonder, is it normal to have some blurred vision after surgery? The answer is yes. When undergoing LASIK, some blurry vision after surgery should be expected. If you experience blurred vision after vision correction surgery, how long should you expect it to stick around?
How Long Will My Vision Be Blurry After LASIK?
When asked, “how many days after LASIK for clear vision?” most surgeons will tell you it can take up to a week, but it depends and varies from person to person.
Reasons Why You Might Have Blurry Vision
Is it normal for vision to be blurry after LASIK? Absolutely! Often, the reason for blurry vision after LASIK is not necessarily due to side effects of the surgery itself, but are signs of something else going on in the eye(s). Here are some examples of vision problems that may lead to blurry vision.
LASIK correction surgery does not stop the natural aging process of the eyes. A cataract typically develops with age and is characterized by the yellowing of the crystalline lens inside the eye. LASIK reshapes the cornea, leaving the lens untouched. Therefore, if a cataract is present pre-operatively, it will still be there after surgery. Blurred vision caused by a cataract is not a side effect or after effect of the procedure. This would be far more likely to occur in someone who’s older, but cataracts can occasionally develop in younger individuals.
#2 Aging Process or Residual Refractive Error
LASIK is used to correct refractive errors in the eye, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. LASIK does not prevent the natural aging process of the eyes, so it’s important to document stability with your vision leading up to surgery.
If you were myopic pre-operatively and you are experiencing blurred vision after surgery, it is possible that there is some residual myopia post-operatively. This would mean you were under-corrected. Conversely, if you were hyperopic pre-operatively and you’re over-corrected, you may find that your distance vision is blurry after LASIK because you became myopic. While these are side effects of LASIK, overcorrection and undercorrection are rare and can often be treated with additional surgery.
If you tell your doctor you have blurry vision after LASIK surgery recovery, their first question will be, “up close, far away, or both?”. If your vision is only blurry when looking at near objects, it could be caused by presbyopia and is not a side effect or after effect of the LASIK procedure. Presbyopia happens when the crystalline lens inside the eye becomes less flexible with age. This causes difficulty in focusing on close objects and requires older individuals to use reading glasses.
If you had both eyes corrected for distance vision with LASIK, you will still need reading glasses to see up close once you reach your mid-40s. If you were previously able to take your distance glasses off to read, you’d no longer be able to do so. LASIK corrects your vision as though you always have your distance glasses on.
#4 Dry Eyes
Dry eyes can cause blurry vision and is one of the most common side effects of LASIK. This type of blur often improves with blinking. If you have dry eyes after LASIK, causing blurry vision, you may be wondering — how long after LASIK will the blurry vision persist? That's going to depend on how aggressively you treat the dryness. Your doctor may recommend artificial tears, punctal plugs, or an in-office procedure to address the issue. You can easily buy artificial tear eye drops over the counter at any drug store. Tear drops are especially important for patients who are required to use a computer screen for long periods of time following their treatment. Be sure to follow your doctors' recommendations, as a healthy tear film is critical to clear vision.
Fluctuating blood sugars in those that are diabetic can cause changes in vision. Vision may be clear one day, then blurry the next. If you have diabetes and blurry eyes, your blood sugar may be unstable and you should check your sugar levels. Talk to your doctor to determine how to maintain better blood sugar control.
#6 Keratoconus Spectrum
Keratoconus is a condition that occurs when the cornea, the thin outer layer of your eye, bulges outward and slowly turns to a cone shape. This can lead to or worsen astigmatism. Unfortunately, there is no definitive test for Keratoconus; doctors can only predict your risk of developing subclinical Keratoconus. Patients with Keratoconus are usually not eligible for LASIK correction as it can worsen the disease. However, there are other forms of vision correction surgery that patients may undergo, for example, a corneal transplant. Talk to your doctor about the safest option for you.
#7 Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a disease that causes deterioration of the macula, the region of your retina that’s responsible for your central vision. Macular degeneration primarily affects those over the age of 60. Macular degeneration can cause your vision to deteriorate over time; however, people often retain their peripheral vision even if their central vision loss is severe. This can cause blurry vision after LASIK surgery recovery although it is not considered a side effect of the procedure itself.
Blurry Vision Not Necessarily Caused by LASIK Itself
If you’ve had LASIK, blurry vision after surgery may not be the result of the procedure itself. As you can see from the causes above, most are not a direct consequence of surgery. Better yet, the vast majority of them can be addressed.
How to Prevent Blurry Vision After LASIK?
While it is completely normal to experience blurry vision during the recovery process of LASIK, there are several measures you can take to minimize it and other negative after effects during the healing process. Make sure you follow these tips to ensure the best possible outcome.
If you’re still wondering how long vision will be blurry after LASIK or have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Kraff Eye Institute prides itself on supporting patients at every step of their journey to clear vision.