Recovery from eye surgery might be smoother than you think

Advances in laser eye surgery techniques mean that for most patients, the days of having to lie in a darkened room with sunglasses on while they recover are thankfully a thing of the past. The first type of laser eye surgery, introduced in the 1970s, was called Radial Keratotomy (RK), but infection risks, lengthy recovery times and advances in technology soon meant that more modern techniques succeeded it.

James Ball, the consultant ophthalmologist at Custom Vision Clinic, prefers where possible to use LASIK and ReLEx SMILE™ on his patients.

Both of these procedures are minimally invasive and have a much quicker recovery time than you might think, enabling patients to return quickly to everyday activities.

Patients can return to non-contact exercise such as the gym, jogging or golf the very next day. Swimmers can go back to the pool just one week after treatment, and patients can travel on aeroplanes a couple of days after laser eye surgery.

LASIK and ReLEx SMILE™ patients are the ones who benefit from the “Wow” factor – these are the people who wake up the next day and their vision is vastly improved, the bedside clock is no longer blurry, the trees in the distance are in focus, and everything seems to be in high definition.

The recovery time for LASIK and ReLEx SMILE™ is also much faster, with patients experiencing only a few hours of grittiness after surgery, but by the next morning this has subsided. It also means that laser patients do not need to take much time off work to recover; Custom Vision Clinic tends to treat patients in the evening, which means they can do a full day’s work on the day of their surgery, then go home to bed after treatment.

Once a patient has had their post-operative check at the clinic the next day, and we have confirmed that their vision reaches the required standard for driving, they can return to their busy lives immediately.

We ask patients to attend follow-up appointments a month after their treatment, then three and six months after that. This is so that we can check that everything has healed in the way we would expect and that the patient is entirely happy with their treatment.



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About our surgeons

Mr James Ball | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MA (Cantab) MB BChir FRCOphth CertLRS

I am a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Custom Vision Clinic, St James’s University Hospital, and Nuffield Hospital. My major interest is in refractive surgery and finding the best treatment suitable for each patient.

Mr Jack Gormley | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MB ChB (Hons) FRCOphth CertLRS

I am a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Custom Vision Clinic and York Teaching Hospital, where I lead the Corneal and Refractive service. I have completed over 2,000 surgical and laser eye procedures.


Read more about laser eye surgery

New refractive surgery guidelines from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, together with patient information on Laser Vision Correction, Phakic Intraocular Lens Implantation, Refractive Lens Exchange and a Checklist for patients will be published in April 2017. Click here for more information

Take this checklist to your consultation with your refractive surgeon performing the procedure. Discuss each item with your surgeon to help you make the decision that is right for you before having
refractive surgery. Click here for more information

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ Laser Vision Correction Patient Information booklet (PDF). Click here for more information

Tips for patients interested in laser eye surgery. The road to laser eye surgery can sometimes be confusing. Thinking of the journey as a step-by-step process, from an early interest in laser eye surgery all the way to post-operative care, might make it easier. The following supporting materials will help you learn more about what happens during the process, and answer questions along the way. However, it is recommended to consult with an eye care provider to get more knowledgable of the procedure and to find out whether laser eye surgery might be an option. Click here for more information
Discover how laser eye surgeries differ and compare. The following chart provides an overview of all key facts and figures when it comes to laser eye surgery. While all three Laser Vision Correction procedures have a high success rate, they differ slightly in the refractive errors treated, the treatment method used, and the clinical specifics of each procedure. A doctor or clinic representative can help you understand which procedure is best for your individual eye condition. Click here for more information

SMILE corrects myopia and astigmatism, or a combination of both refractive errors with only a very small incision at the corneal surface. This high-precision procedure is the latest development in the refractive laser treatments. Includes videos, treatment steps, and questions and answers.
Click here for more information

LASIK treats refractive errors by folding away the top layer of the eye and re-shaping tissue underneath. If a femtosecond laser is used, this type of procedure is called Femto-LASIK. Includes videos, treatment steps and questions and answers. Click here for more information

PRK/LASEK procedures remove a thin cell layer from the top of the eye so the laser can reshape the underlying cornea. This surgery may be an option for those who are not eligible for LASIK or those who look for the most economic option for refractive laser surgery. Includes videos, treatment steps, and questions and answers. Click here for more information

Laser eye surgery treatments are clinically proven and established procedures. Like all surgeries, however, laser eye surgery is not free of risks and side effects. Only your ophthalmologist can explain the individual risks and decide whether laser eye treatment is an option. Some complications that can occur are… Click here for more information
Photorefractive (laser) surgery for the correction of refractive errors. Understanding NICE guidance – information for people considering the procedure, and for the public. Click here for more information
Custom Vision Clinic’s YouTube Channel features James Ball answering hundreds of eye-related questions on video – ranging from laser refractive surgery, lens exchange and keratoconus treatment. Click here for more information
Laser eye surgery reviews of Custom Vision Clinic on Trustpilot. Click here for more information