LASIK and Swimming By William Goldstein on April 12, 2016

What is Lasik?

Lasik is a form of corrective eye surgery also called refractive surgery that is used to correct many different problems of the eye such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, astigmatism and cataract. People also opt for Lasik to avoid wearing contact lenses or glasses as some people are allergic to lenses and consider wearing glasses or spectacles not very attractive. Patients often want to know if lasik and swimming mix, or if surgery means that the can’t go in the pool anymore!

Lasik is usually a very straightforward procedure with almost minimal or no post-procedure complications. Less than 1 percent of patients who have gotten surgery done might experience eye problems after surgery. These include dry eye, infection of the eye and problems with the flap. Seeing halos and glare are more common problems that patients might experience after undergoing laser vision correction but these usually clear up on their own with no medication or topical applications.

How long after LASIK before you can swim?

Common queries after undergoing Lasik include whether the patient can resume normal day to day activities such as driving. Patients who want to indulge in activities such as lasik and swimming and anything related to water should be careful not to irritate the eye or rub the eye in any way. Even though the water in a swimming pool might not be too abrasive against the surface of the eye, the chlorine present in the water might cause a stinging or itching sensation in the eyes which might cause the patient to rub, scratch or poke the eye.

So more than the chlorine content present in the water in a swimming pool it is the possibility of the person scratching, rubbing or even touching his eye which is the main concern. People who have undergone Lasik have a flap placed over the corneal region (depending on the type of procedure performed on them) and the flap is not supposed to be moved, touched or brought into contact with any foreign substances including water for a certain period of time.

This is to allow the flap to heal completely after surgery and not get damaged or displaced due to the water in the pool or the irritation caused by the chlorine. Moving or rubbing or touching the eye too vigorously in any manner will cause the flap to get dislodged or moved or displaced causing the patient to return for corrective surgery which may result in more complications and problems of the eye.

Also, patients are more prone to contracting eye infections if they swim especially in a public pool. Those who have had Lasik performed should wait at least two weeks before swimming and wear swimming goggles for 6 weeks post surgery. Surgeons will usually advise the patients when they can resume certain activities depending on whether there was a flap put in or not and the rate of healing of each person’s eye. In this way, we can be sure that  LASIK and swimming don’t work against each other!

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Dr. William S. Goldstein

Laser Eye Care Center

William S. Goldstein, MD, has been practicing laser eye surgery since 1991. He was one of the first doctors to offer advanced eye care in all of Michigan and is a member of several prestigious organizations: 

  • American Board of Ophthalmology
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons

If you are ready to enhance your vision, call our office at (586) 323-2020 or request a consultation online.

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