When Can I Return to Exercise After Eye Laser Surgery?
For most sports having good vision is extremely important and this is why so many ‘sporty’ individuals consider having eye laser surgery. Although there are other options such as contact lenses or wrap around sports glasses, both are inferior to having perfect eye sight without the need for a visual correction.
Wearing glasses can be uncomfortable and there can be problems with the lenses steaming up. Contact lenses are fantastic but they can become uncomfortable if either dirt or sweat gets in your eyes. In addition to this, it is quite possible for contact lenses to fall out during exercising/sport which will naturally affect performance levels.
The aim of laser eye surgery is to free you from your glasses / contact lenses for life and in most cases this is very achievable. A small percentage of patients do show some regression of their vision and this is more likely with high prescriptions. Typically clinics will re-laser patients who regress for free and so this is not something you need to worry about.
If sport is important to you then you may be reluctant to undergo laser eye surgery due to the period of time where you will need to abstain following the procedure. How soon you can return to playing sport after laser eye surgery will depend on which sport you are involved with and also which procedure you are having done.
There are 2 main types of laser eye surgery and they are Lasik and Lasek. Lasik accounts for about 95% of all procedures and the reason for this is due to the quick recovery time following the surgery. Most people can return to work and normal activities within 24 hours following Lasik. Lasek however requires a longer recovery period, with most people requiring at least 1 week off work. Depending on the particular sport you are involved with, your surgeon will recommend either Lasik or Lasek. The following helps explain this:
Lasik Eye Surgery
Lasik will typically be recommended if you are involved with non-contact sports such as jogging, tennis or athletics. Providing your eyes heal as they should do, you are likely to be able to return to sport around 7 days after surgery. You will typically have a 1 week aftercare following Lasik eye surgery and you should check with you surgeon at this appointment if it is ok to start exercising again. If you are involved with contact sports such as Karate, Boxing or rugby, then your surgeon is likely to deem you unsuitable for Lasik.
Lasek Eye Surgery
If you are involved with contact sports then your surgeon will advise that you have Lasek eye surgery rather than Lasik surgery. The reason for this is that following the Lasek procedure the surface of your eyes (corneas) are just as strong as they were before surgery. This is not the case with Lasik, as the flap that is created means there is a slight weakening of the surface of the eye which means contact sports should be avoided. It is generally still recommended to wait at least 1 month following Lasek before you can return to any contact sports. If you are only involved with non-contact sports, you can return to them 1 week following Lasek, providing your surgeon is happy with this.
In summary, no matter what sport you are involved with your surgeon will be able to recommended the most appropriate surgery for you. Generally speaking the maximum length of time you will have to abstain from sport is one month providing your eyes heal as they should do. If you play sport for a team, then you should consider having laser eye surgery in the close season, which will ensure that you are unlikely to miss any actual games.
Laser eye surgery is now extremely safe with a complication rate of only 1 in 1000 procedures. The feeling of playing sport without having to wear contact lens or reach for your glasses is liberating and it may even improve your performance levels – although this is not guaranteed!