What Is the Best Time of Year to Get LASIK?
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) makes clear, sharp vision possible without eyeglasses or contact lenses. Wondering if one time of year is better than another to schedule the procedure? Winter may be the ideal time for your vision-enhancement procedure.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK permanently corrects your vision whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism. The procedure changes the shape of your cornea, improving the way light rays focus on your retina, the light-sensing tissue that lines the back of the eye. The cornea, a clear layer of rounded tissue, works together with the lens of the eye, to focus rays on the retina. Once light rays reach the retina, they're turned into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain.
Light rays must be focused precisely on the retina for clear, sharp vision. If you have myopia, the rays fall in front of the retina, while hyperopia causes light rays to be focused behind the retina. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is irregularly curved. This type of refractive error also makes it difficult to properly focus light rays on the retina and may cause blurry vision at both near and far distances.
During LASIK surgery, your ophthalmologist creates a flap in your cornea. After pushing the flap aside, he or she uses an excimer laser to reshape your cornea. Changing the shape of the cornea ensures that light rays are focused directly on the retina. Once the cornea is reshaped, the flap is moved back in place and soon reattaches to the corneal tissue.
Why Is Winter a Good time for LASIK?
Choosing winter for your LASIK procedure can be a good idea for several reasons, including:
- Fewer (Paid Time Off) PTO Hours Needed. As with any type of surgery, you'll need to rest for a little while after the procedure. Most people can go back to work in a day or two, although that timeframe does vary from person to person. Your vision will be a little blurry immediately after your procedure. If your job requires clear vision, you may want to take more than one or two days off. When you schedule your procedure just before paid holidays, you'll have more time to recover and won't have to use PTO. Even if you do need to draw from your PTO bank, it may be easier to take time off during the winter, depending on the type of work you do.
- More Downtime. Spring and summer are the busiest times of the year for many people. When the weather finally turns warmer, your days are filled with picnics, vacations, beach days, gardening, home improvement projects and sporting events. During your recovery from LASIK, it's best to avoid non-contact sports for three days, strenuous or contact sports for four weeks, and swimming, hot tubs, or whirlpools for up to eight weeks, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When you schedule your LASIK surgery for the quieter winter months, you won't miss out on your favorite activities.
- Better Weather Conditions. Back in 2004, researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (now Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist) discovered that heat and humidity can affect the success of LASIK procedures. Both indoor humidity levels during the surgery and outdoor temperatures and humidity up to two weeks before LASIK had an impact on the results. The researchers reported that none of the patients in the study who had LASIK in the winter needed a follow-up procedure to fine-tune their vision. They noted that the need for additional procedures increased during the more humid months of the year. According to Keith Walter, MD, one of the researchers, humid air could decrease the amount of laser energy absorbed by the thickest part of the cornea, while moister corneas due to high humidity might make removing tissue harder. Obviously, ophthalmologists carefully control the humidity in their offices during the spring and summer but can't control outdoor conditions.
Would you like to improve your vision with LASIK this winter? Call us to schedule a consultation with your ophthalmologist.
Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist: Temperature and Humidity Can Affect LASIK Surgery Results, 4/20/24
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery?
American Academy of Ophthalmology: LASIK – Laser Eye Surgery, 11/9/2022