LASIK and Sports

The question we hear most frequently at our New York LASIK Center from patients considering LASIK surgery is: “What restrictions will I have after LASIK when it comes to sports?”

NYC Marathon

The day of your LASIK surgery, you shouldn’t make any plans, including participating in sports. The best thing you can do for yourself immediately after LASIK is rest.  In fact, 4-6 hours of rest is what corneal specialist and LASIK surgeon Dr. Mandel recommends after your procedure at the Mandel Vision LASIK Center in New York.

The day after your procedure, participating in most sports is safe.  The difference is that post-LASIK you should wear protective eyewear for any contact sport that has the potential to cause direct trauma to the eye.

There’s such a wide variety of sports to participate in, especially in a diverse city like New York and we see patients who participate in all of them.  For simplicity, we’ll separate them into categories below.

Winter Sports

This category includes:

  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling

All of these sports are safe after LASIK, providing you wear your impact-resistant protective goggles to ensure nothing hits your eyes. However, for all winter sports cold temperatures and wind need to be considered. Cold weather can create very dry conditions, especially out west. After LASIK your eyes are more dry, so preservative-free tears should be used regularly, and more frequently when participating in winter sports.  It goes without saying that impact-resistant protective goggles should be worn during all winter sports. This is not only to guard against trauma, especially during falls, but also to shield the eyes from debris and cold air.

Gym Sports

This category includes:

  • Running/Cardio Workout
  • Cycling
  • Weightlifting
  • Sauna
  • Steam Room

You can resume all running and cardio the day after the procedure. You may also participate in outdoor cycling, with good wraparound glasses, during the first week after the procedure. No problems with weightlifting. No sauna for 6 weeks because of the drying effect, and no steam room for 3 weeks.

Water Sports

This category includes:

  • Swimming
  • Water skiing
  • Snorkeling
  • Scuba Diving

No swimming the first week after LASIK and then goggles should be worn for the next 2 months. For sports that can have a force against the eye, you need to protect your LASIK flap from trauma, particularly during the first few months. A wave hitting the eye can be as powerful as a fist.  Therefore, protective goggles should be worn for surfing, jet skiing and at any time there is a chance that a wave may hit your eyes.

Ball Sports

This category includes:

  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Volleyball
  • Handball

These types of sports are fine, as soon as the day after LASIK, as long as impact-resistant protective eyewear is worn for the first 6 months.  The best form of protective eyewear is sports goggles.  This is to protect the eye, and your LASIK flap, against trauma.  Finger injuries to the eye during basketball are common and we see this often at Mandel Vision.

Racket Sports

This category includes:

  • Tennis
  • Racquetball

These types of sports are also fine, as soon as the day after LASIK but you must wear impact-resistant protective goggles. This is particularly important in doubles tennis where injuries at the net can happen in an instant. For tennis, after a couple of months you can give up the protective glasses. The brow and cheek bone can block the larger tennis ball, in most instances. You can do more damage to the eye in racquetball because the ball is small enough to bypass these protective bony structures. Therefore, it’s even more important to use protective eyewear. Incidentally, especially with racquetball, since the ball travels so fast, impact-resistant protective eyewear should be worn at all times, whether or not you’ve had LASIK.

Extreme Sports

This category includes:

  • Rock-climbing
  • Skydiving

Again, these sports are fine as soon as the day after LASIK.  Trauma from falls, wind and debris are the factors to be considered during these extreme sports. Protective eyewear is your best defense.

Contact Sports

This category includes:

  • Boxing
  • Kickboxing
  • Martial Arts

This is the one and only category of sports which is NOT recommended after LASIK. In fact, if these types of contact sports where you could be punched or kicked in the eye are your passion, LASIK may not be for you. There is good news, though. PRK, which is the laser vision correction procedure in which a flap is not created, is a safer option. The long-term results of PRK are as good as LASIK. Read more about this in our Video Blog Series:  The PRK Experience.

The bottom line: contacts and glasses are not a great option for many athletes. They’re simply a hassle and many consider them a disability that can impair optimal vision for competition. We hear this in our New York LASIK Center every day. As an example, it’s not safe to wear contact lenses while swimming as the chemicals in the pool can irritate your eyes and make contacts uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous to wear. Read more about this in our blog post:  Soft Contact Lens Wear and Your Eye Health. They can also get dry and stick to your eyes during winter sports such as skiing. Neither contacts nor glasses are a great option on the beach. And running with glasses – forget it!

LASIK has helped millions of athletes all over the world enjoy sports and their daily activities without the hassle of contacts and glasses. Wondering if you can join the ranks? Contact us today for your free LASIK evaluation with corneal specialist and Harvard-trained laser eye surgeon, Eric R. Mandel, M.D. at our New York LASIK Center, conveniently located on the upper east side of Manhattan.


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Meet The Staff

 

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