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LASIK surgery is often heralded as one of the safest surgical procedures, boasting a low rate of infection and serious complications. Indeed, candidates for LASIK can undergo treatment with peace of mind, knowing that the risks are few and far between. Still, certain side effects should be expected for at least the initial stages of recovery, requiring that patients rest and take time to heal. As one of the more common effects of LASIK surgery, light sensitivity can catch patients off guard if they do not know what to expect during this time.

What Causes Light Sensitivity?

If you experience light sensitivity in the days following LASIK surgery, it may be due to one or a combination of reasons. Most commonly, sensitivity is caused by swelling of the corneal tissue in response to the damage caused during the creation of the corneal flap. This flap heals relatively quickly after surgery and rarely results in complications, but during this time, the healing process tends to make patients hypersensitive to bright lights. At the same time, patients also tend to have dry eyes in the early stages of recovery, further exposing the tissues to discomfort from environmental factors including light.

LASIK procedures that utilize IntraLase or other bladeless lasers for the creation of the corneal flap tend to result in a unique form of light sensitivity called Transient Light Sensitivity (TLS). TLS is often more significant than regular light sensitivity, and may not surface until a few weeks after surgery. However, with timely and appropriate professional treatment, patients can effectively alleviate this problem.

In addition to light sensitivity at daytime, LASIK patients will note issues with contrast and vision at night when it comes to bright lights or bright colors. Glare and halos may be present around streetlights, traffic signals, and even just bright road signs.

Daytime light sensitivity issues will be their most pronounced in the first few days after LASIK surgery. By the end of the first week or so, patients should no longer experience discomfort from bright lights. Night vision issues will typically last a few weeks since it can take time for the eyes to heal and fully adjust to the new corneal contour. During recovery, a patient can take additional steps to curb discomfort:

  • Avoid bright lights: It seems like a no-brainer, but it can be difficult to consistently avoid exposure to bright lights. Whether walking outside or into a bright room, strategically avoiding such environments takes a bit of planning.
  • Protect your eyes from direct exposure: If you need to be in an area with bright light, plan accordingly. Wear sunglasses, a hat with a brim, or both.
  • Avoid screens: TV and computer screens are bright and may cause eye strain while your tissues are still healing. Try to avoid any such screens in the first 48 hours of recovery.
  • Contact your doctor if sensitivity persists: If light sensitivity persists beyond the first week, becomes worse, or resurfaces in following weeks, contact your doctor immediately. You may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication or alternative treatment in order to ensure the health of your eyes and corneal tissue.


Experiencing Sensitivity to Light after LASIK Surgery

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