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LASIK: Problems with Light Sensitivity and Night Vision

By Gordon Wong, OD on August 15, 2014


A harsh light seen during the nightThe team at GW Eye Associates is committed to providing patients will information on all of the risks and benefits of eye care procedures. That's why so many people throughout the greater San Diego area come to our practice in order to learn more about their eye care options. This is especially important when it comes to LASIK eye surgery, a laser vision correction procedure that treats refractive errors, which you may know better as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

Patients often experience issues with light sensitivity, night vision, and low light vision after undergoing LASIK. Let's see why this is the case.

What Happens During LASIK

In order to discuss light sensitivity after LASIK, it's necessary to talk about the LASIK procedure itself.

During LASIK, a small incision is made in the topmost layer of the cornea, which is known as the epithelium. The flap is raised in order for the LASIK surgeon to reshape and revise the overall contour of the cornea. By doing this, light passes through the eyes more efficiently and focuses on the retinas, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyes.

Necessary Adjustment to Light as Patients Heal

As the eye is healing from surgery, the nature of the procedure will result in changes to the perception of light for the patient. This is to be expected with any kind of surgery that involves revision of the eyes. These light sensitivity issues will diminish with time as healing takes place, but both daytime and nighttime vision will be affected to varying degrees.

Problems with Daylight and Harsh Indoor Light

Patients will immediately notice that their tolerance for bright lights during the day or harsh lights while indoors is severely affected. A bright summer day that would otherwise be idyllic will suddenly overwhelm the eyes and cause discomfort. The same goes for bright or harsh lights indoors.

Issues with Night Vision and Low-Light Situations

Nighttime vision is also impacted by the surgery. LASIK patients will notice issues with contrast sensitivity, where it may be hard to discern objects in the dark. Any lights seen in the dark may seem very bright or produce starbursts and halos.

How long will these light sensitivity problems last?

In general, problems with daylight sensitivity will resolve themselves much sooner than issues with night vision.

By the end of the first week after LASIK, most people will no longer experience acute sensitivity when it comes to bright daylight. Some sensitivity may still be present, but it will be generally manageable.

With night vision, issues with contrast and light sensitivity may last for months after LASIK has been performed. Thankfully the problems tend to be less pronounced today thanks to advances in custom LASIK surgery, which addresses minor imperfections of the corneal surface.

Tips for Dealing with Daylight and Indoor Light

In order to deal with daytime light sensitivity, we recommend the following:

  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors
  • Wear a hat with a brim to keep direct sunlight away from the eyes
  • Avoid harsh lights indoors, such as reading lamps
  • Avoid using mobile devices or laptops in the first days of healing

Tips for Dealing with Night Vision Problems

In order to deal with nighttime light sensitivity, we recommend the following:

  • Use public transportation or get a ride when traveling at night
  • Ease into driving at night and any nighttime activities
  • Only drive or ride your bike in well-lit places

In order to improve healing times and improve night vision faster, patients need to follow their post-operative instructions to the letter.

Learn More About Advanced Eye Care

If you would like to learn more about LASIK and your many other options for advanced vision correction and eye care, we encourage you to contact our eye care specialists today. The team at GW Eye Associates is eager is meet you in person and help you achieve excellent vision.

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