Sunglasses after LASIK

Dr. Matthew Sharpe- Founder of SharpeVision

By Dr. Matthew R. Sharpe

February 28, 2022

Sunglasses after LASIK, or sunglasses after cataract surgery, or sunglasses after eye surgery are generally used to minimize the light sensitivity that often happens after any eye procedure. Post LASIK goggles or post LASIK sunglasses are not absolutely required, but may make you more comfortable. Most people will experience some light sensitivity, starbursts, halos, and glare immediately after LASIK surgery. Most of this is better the next morning, but it can improve for at least a month and sometimes more. The most common side effect after LASIK surgery is dryness. We have found that the sunglasses may help our patients feel more comfortable, so we recommend wearing the sunglasses as much as you want to to feel more comfortable. You can wear them indoors, which will decrease light sensitivity, but it also may help alleviate the drying effect of the air on your eyes.

At SharpeVision, we give sunglasses as part of our “recovery kit.“ We also have “comfort drops“ that help soothe your eyes in the 4 to 5 hours post operatively for LASIK and for two days postoperatively for PRK. Sunglasses can add to this comfort during the recovery.

Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation with sunglasses, whether you’ve had LASIK or not.

All sunglasses manufactured in the United States are required to have ultraviolet filters built in. These filters filter out over 99% of the ultraviolet A & B. Generally vision gets better for a month or more postoperatively. While most of our patients have 20/20 uncorrected vision day one postoperatively after LASIK, the quality of vision gets better. The nighttime vision, glare, halos, and starbursts will improve for a month or more. The most common reason for glare and halos after LASIK is temporary dryness that gets better over a month or more.

Post eye surgery sunglasses are always a good idea in sunny places, and even cloudy ones, because of the ultraviolet radiation that can potentially accelerate the development of macular degeneration or cataracts. There is no absolute necessity to wear LASIK sunglasses, but they can make you more comfortable. Often you can wear them several days or several weeks, but once your eyes are healed you won’t need LASIK sunglasses, except when you’re in the sun.

Cataract Sunglasses

Cataract Sunglasses or cataract surgery sunglasses are definitely not a fashion statement, but don’t necessarily have to be ugly. LASIK sunglasses have long been used as a marketing tool to give someone glasses that have the name of the clinic on the side of them. That’s why at SharpeVision we use a classic sunglass design, so that people want to wear them and spread the word of the miracle of laser vision correction surgery. I have been doing LASIK, PRK and other vision correction procedures for over 25 years. I had LASIK in 1998 and have benefited from living the majority of my adult life without any glasses or contact lenses. Cataract sunglasses conjure up an image of older citizens who wear huge sunglasses that cover their post cataract glasses. Due to the improvements in technology, most people do not need to wear glasses to drive and often don’t need glasses to see to read either after cataract surgery. Modern cataract surgery is so quick and painless, and the recovery is so quick that you may not even need glasses or sunglasses postoperatively. It’s quite amazing. Most surgeons can complete a cataract surgery within 10 minutes. Laser assisted cataract surgery makes the process even easier and more consistent and precise. So the need for post cataract sunglasses is minimal. At SharpeVision, we often recommend RLE which is where we remove the natural lens of the eye, replace it with an artificial intraocular lens that can focus the light perfectly so that you do not need glasses for driving or reading. The RLE procedure is the same as cataract surgery except that we do it for the purpose of eliminating the need for glasses postoperatively. Multifocal intraocular lenses have been in use for 15 or more years but have really taken off in the past five years. They build in the near vision so you don’t need “cheaters” or reading glasses postoperatively.

LASIK Goggles

LASIK goggles are often given out to protect the eyes after LASIK surgery. I decided about 15 years ago to try having my patients not use the post LASIK goggles because so many patients had difficulties. Patients reported that their LASIK goggles often fell off in the middle of the night and sometimes caused skin irritation due to the foam that caused a contact dermatitis. Sometimes patients would state that the goggles were pressing on their eyes when they woke up in the morning. Not to mention the fact that all these goggles would quickly end up in a landfill. I have never regretted the decision to quit recommending or distributing the LASIK goggles routinely for my patients. The reason to have the goggles was to prevent the LASIK flap from moving in the first 24 hours postoperatively. In my experience this is extremely rare- it happens maybe once a year at most. With the LASIK goggles or without the post LASIK goggles, it was the same. I felt that the LASIK goggles caused more problems than they were worth. For this reason, I no longer recommend that my patients wear goggles after LASIK surgery. Some people feel more comfortable wearing a satin sleeping mask or something of the like, but ending the use of goggles has not been a problem.

How long do you have to wear sunglasses after LASIK?

I would recommend that you wear sunglasses whenever you are outdoors during the daylight hours because there is always some ultraviolet radiation that can affect our eyes. Macular degeneration and cataracts are the most common conditions that may be exacerbated, or even created, by ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is implicated in other conditions, as well, such as eyelid skin cancer. That said, there is no other absolute need to wear sunglasses after LASIK, but you may wear them as much as you want to to keep your eyes comfortable. Typically this will be just a couple days after LASIK or cataract surgery.

Dr. Matthew Sharpe- Founder of SharpeVision

Dr. Matthew R. Sharpe

Dr. Matthew Sharpe is an Ophthalmologist specializing in refractive surgery and the owner SharpeVision MODERN LASIK & LENS, with offices in Seattle, Austin, and Chicago. Dr. Sharpe is a world traveler, pianist, marathon runner, motorcyclist, and fluent French speaker. He enjoys every second of life, but finds he is happiest at home cheering on The Ohio State Buckeyes with his wife, three children, and four dogs.
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