In the past, the only treatment options for patients with vision impairment were glasses or contact lenses. However, within just the past couple of decades, LASIK has become one of the most popular vision treatments. LASIK reshapes the corneal tissues to correct refractive errors and provide patients with a more permanent and convenient vision solution. To ensure the success of LASIK treatment, it is important that patients are in good health and refrain from any habits that could increase the risk of LASIK complications. Many patients are surprised to learn that this includes smoking.
Dr. Steven Chander explains the risks associated with LASIK and cigarette smoke to give his Chicago, IL patients a better understanding of how they can protect the eyes during LASIK recovery.
How Smoking Affects LASIK Recovery
Evidence has long shown that cigarettes and other tobacco products have a negative effect on a person’s overall health. Some diseases that have been linked to smoking include lung disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. What many people do not realize is that cigarettes are also especially harmful following any surgical procedure, including LASIK surgery.
Studies show that smoking slows down the healing process, leading to a prolonged recovery for patients. Cigarettes also inhibit the body’s ability to fight off infections. In healthy patients, the risk of infection after LASIK surgery is very low. However, that risk is increased when a patient smokes. An infection of the corneal flap can lead to a number of other complications, including impaired vision.
Cigarettes and Eye Irritation
Cigarettes affect the body internally and have the potential to slow the healing process after LASIK. Unfortunately, that is not the only negative effect caused by cigarettes after LASIK. The smoke that cigarettes produce can also be very irritating for the eyes. After LASIK surgery, the eyes are likely to feel dry and itchy. Cigarette smoke can get into the eyes and make those side effects even worse. It is very important to avoid irritants such as cigarette smoke while the eyes recover from LASIK.
When to Quit Smoking
There are so many benefits to giving up cigarettes, so we always encourage our patients to quit this harmful habit. However, even if patients are not ready to give up smoking for good, it is vital that they refrain from smoking in the time period surrounding their LASIK procedure.
Ideally, patients should give up smoking for at least several weeks before LASIK and another four to six weeks after their laser eye surgery. By refraining from smoking during this time, patients can ensure that the body is in optimal condition for LASIK surgery and the recovery that follows.
Under the care of an experienced laser eye surgeon such as Dr. Steven Chander, LASIK offers the most long-lasting and effective treatment for vision impairment. If you have questions about the LASIK procedure and the recovery period that follows, contact us at your earliest convenience.