Primary Eye Care Associates

When Can I Go Swimming after LASIK?

By Dr. Steven Chander on August 22, 2019

The beachLASIK surgery treats blurry vision by reshaping the cornea to eliminate imperfections that cause nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. The procedure offers long-lasting results that should drastically reduce, or eliminate, a patient’s need for prescription lenses.

During LASIK recovery, the eyes will be vulnerable to infection and other surgical complications. Swimming after LASIK can irritate the eyes and increase the risk of infection, so Dr. Steven Chander advises our Chicago, IL, patients to avoid this activity until their eyes have healed.

How Long Is Swimming Off Limits?

During LASIK surgery, Dr. Chander makes an incision in the outer layer of the cornea. This incision creates a flap that grants access to the underlying corneal tissues. While the LASIK flap is healing, the eyes will be especially sensitive. It is important that patients avoid any activities that could irritate the eyes while they recover from treatment.

Swimming can be harmful in a number of ways for those recovering from LASIK. Pool and jacuzzi water is likely to have chlorine or other chemicals that can be harsh on the eye; salt water from the ocean can cause dryness and irritation; and fresh water in lakes or rivers may carry infection-causing bacteria.

To minimize the risk of post-surgical complications, Dr. Chander generally recommends that our Chicago patients avoid swimming for at least two weeks after LASIK. However, this timeline varies slightly depending on what type of activity the patient will be participating in. For optimal protection, patients should adhere to these guidelines:

  • Wait two weeks before swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean
  • Wait two weeks before sitting in a jacuzzi
  • Wait two weeks before participating in low-impact water activities, such as snorkeling or kayaking
  • Wait three weeks before participating in water sports or high-impact water activities
  • Wear protective goggles in the water for at least one month after surgery

 Tips for Protecting the Eyes

Once our Chicago patients are ready to swim again after LASIK, there are still some precautions they will need to take to protect the eyes. When swimming underwater, it is important that patients keep their eyes closed so that irritants do not get in the eye. Preferably, patients should wear swim goggles. Goggles not only block out chemicals and bacteria, but they can also help in the prevention of eye injuries during water sports or other high-impact water activities.

The sun is another concern when patients are swimming or hanging out by the water after LASIK surgery. While the eyes are recovering, they will be especially sensitive to bright light. In addition, harmful UV rays can interfere with the healing process after LASIK. It is best to wear dark sunglasses with UV protection whenever you are outdoors, but it is especially important the first six weeks following LASIK surgery.

Contact Us

If you are considering LASIK surgery to improve your vision, Dr. Steven Chander would be happy to provide you with more information about this revolutionary procedure. To learn more, send a message to the eye care team at Primary Eye Care Associates, or call (773) 735-6090 to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.

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