How Long Should I Wear Protective Eye Shields After LASIK or PRK?

April 28, 2022 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Lasik Prk

An image depicting laser eye surgeryServing the greater Detroit, MI, area, the Byrd & Wyandotte Eye Clinic specializes in corrective eye surgery to help you see your world with perfect clarity. With options like LASIK and PRK, you’ll no longer need to rely on expensive glasses or contacts.

The epithelial layer of the cornea needs to heal after refractive surgery, which means that it must remain undisturbed. That’s why our team will give you a pair of clear, protective eye shields following your procedure. Many patients wonder: How long do I have to wear protective eye shields after LASIK or PRK? Our experienced ophthalmologists explain it all in this article.

How LASIK and PRK Work

Both LASIK and PRK improve patients’ vision by reshaping the cornea. The main difference in PRK and LASIK is how our ophthalmologists gain access to the center layer of the cornea through the epithelium (the topmost layer of the cornea). LASIK simply creates an epithelial flap that is repositioned after reshaping the cornea. PRK, however, completely removes a portion of the epithelial layer.

Immediately After Corrective Eye Surgery

Whether you get PRK or LASIK, you’ll need to wear your protective eye shields for the first 24 hours following your procedure. This will help protect your eyes from dust and debris, as well as accidental touching and rubbing.

The postoperative protocol for wearing protective eye shields varies slightly between LASIK and PRK after the first 24 to 48 hours. But, as a general rule, it’s best to keep wearing your protective gear until our team gives you the all-clear.

Protective Eye Shields After LASIK

The epithelial flap that is created during LASIK must remain undisturbed for the first 72 hours following the procedure. This is much easier said than done, as many patients instinctively want to rub or dab at their eyes after the eye surgery. Additionally, many patients unconsciously rub their eyes while they sleep, which can tear the epithelial flap from its position.

To prevent accidentally tearing the epithelial flap, our team recommends wearing your protective eye shields while sleeping or napping for one week following LASIK. If the urge to rub or dab at your eyes during waking hours is too strong, then we suggest wearing them until the epithelial flap is completely healed.

Protective Eye Shields After PRK

Our team completely removes a portion of the epithelial layer during PRK. Subsequently, we will give patients a set of protective contact lenses to cover the exposed cornea before leaving our office. But these contact lenses aren’t the only protective gear you’ll need.

Patients will need to keep their contact lenses in and undisturbed for at least five days following their PRK procedure. Wearing eye shields will ensure that the protective contact lenses don’t move while the epithelial layer heals. Once the epithelial layer fully heals, patients no longer have to wear their protective contact lenses or shields.

Schedule a Consultation Today

LASIK and PRK can transform your vision from blurry to nearly perfect in just 30 minutes. If you’re interested in learning more about corrective eye surgery, then don’t wait. We encourage all interested patients in the Dearborn Heights and Lincoln Park areas to schedule their corrective eye surgery consultation today. New and existing patients can request an appointment online, or they may call our Downriver office at (734) 284-2444.

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