Diving after LASIK Eye Surgery

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got4boyz

Contributor

About a year ago I had LASIK eye surgery. The only side-effect I still have is dry eyes when I wake up in the morning.

However, today I went to a pool for a refresher diving course since I haven’t dived in two years, and while diving my eyes were burning and felt dry.

Luckily, after about 30 minutes it went away.

I’m just curious if anyone else has had LASIK surgery and any complications while diving, and would love to hear from anyone who has any thoughts on the subject.

I hope it won’t be a problem for my diving trip next week!

I wish I didn’t have to breathe! :fish: :goldfish:

BillP

Senior Member

I don’t have personal experience with Lasik and diving but you can read what DAN has to say in their FAQ at:

ericfine50

Contributor

Immersed magazine had an article (one or two issues ago) about it. It was in depth and well written.

got4boyz

Contributor

Bill, Thanks for giving me the info. on DAN. I put Dan’s website in my favorites folder.

So according to them there should be no problem diving.

Eric, is the Immersed magazine online? I’d love to read it. THanks!

I wish I didn’t have to breathe! :fish: :goldfish:

DocVikingo

Senior Member

“Immersed” offers no online service, but you can subscribe & get back issues here—>

Madder_Than_Hell

Guest

Diving after LASIK is fine as long as you are post-op for at least two weeks, and if diving an a pond or a place where the water is stagnet (lots of bacteria, don’t let the water get in your eyes at least a month out. If your eyes are feeling dry at any time use an artificail tear (presertive free) such as Thera Tears of Refresh Plus. I hope you are enjoying your new vision.

* If anyone has questions about LASIK ( Laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) just ask me. I work as a Certified Ophthalmic Technician and Ophthalmic surgical Technologist. I have a vast knowledge and experience with eye related problems, diseases. Fell free to ask.

got4boyz

Contributor

I can’t even describe how wonderful it is to see without contacts or glasses. I’M ESTATIC. Being as active as I am in so many different sports glasses certainly got in the way and I didn’t handle contacts very well.

Since it’s been almost a year, then obviously there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to dive. I just thought it was strange that they started burning soon after went diving in the pool to recertify.

Thanks again for everyone’s comments!

I wish I didn’t have to breathe! :fish: :goldfish:

scubadoc

Medical Moderator

You probably had a mild reaction to the chlorine in the pool. Some people get severe reactions, even without having had LASIK.

It is almost miraculous the results that most people get with the procedure, after years of fiddling around with thick glasses. One of my patients had obsessed with the glasses so much that she almost had a panic attack when she found that she did not need the glasses.

One of my consultants, Capt. Frank Butler, Ophthalmologist/Navy SEAL feels that the post-op waiting period should be a minimum of one month before resuming diving after LASIK. He also has the following to say about diving after the procedure:

1. He is aware of no case reports that document diving related complications after LASIK.

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2. There are at least three potential complications that might occur in post-op LASIK patients as a result of diving:
– Globe rupture from facemask barotrauma (unlikely)
– Interface keratitis (infection of the flap interface)
– Flap displacement from interface bubbles

As always, you should discuss this with your eye doctor, so that he or she will be able to add any special knowledge about your specific situation that would be relevant.

Diving after cataract surgery

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world’s largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

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wildbill9

Contributor

the joys of getting old. My eye Dr has now said my sight is bad enough i need laser surgery. It is scheduled and I will have a bifocal type lens put in, I should, hopefully, have great long and medium distance (able to see close up within arms length) but will need aids to be able to be able to read. I have been severely near sighted since the 4th grade and am nervous this will affect my diving especially my photography skills. Any old farts out there that have had this done and how did it effect your diving. I can always get a mask made it need be. I hope this will improve my diving experience but am a bit nervous. My next trip isn’t till October so I have plenty of time to recover and make any adjustments needed. Thanks for any tips or advice of even just word’s that it will make diving better. Bill

AfterDark

Contributor

Not yet but I have an appointment with an eye surgeon about a cataract in my left eye. I’ll be watching this thread with interest. Had 20/15 vision for most of my life now not so good but I can still read my gauges with a small cheater glued to my mask. My wife was legally blind without glasses, she had laser surgery a while ago and is doing well, her vision isn’t quite has good as forecasted but it’s a lot better than before and she was snorkeling, doesn’t scuba shortly after the op.

Good luck to you and keep us updated please.

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Ricardo V.

Contributor

@wildbill9,
I had cataracts removed form both eyes when I was 30, a bit earlier than most. I’m an avid diver and passionate about underwater photography.

Cataract procedures in my case, had no adverse impact on diving. There is a recovery time, which varies according to each individual as well as the type of procedure your Doctor follows. Some surgeries are no stitch, just a small self folding simple incision. in and out, while others require longer recovery from the nature of the cut(s) and how invasive the procedure ended up being.

Today, cataract surgery is pretty straight forward. It’s got excellent success rates. Not trying to give medical advice here, just sharing some recommendations from personal experience:

1. Make sure your Doctor is truly proficient with the procedure, at a level that you have trust and confidence in his or her skills. You want to go in trusting them.

2. Ensure they don’t skimp on the intraoccular lens you will be fitted with. Once the natural lens is emulsified and removed, a new implant will be inserted. This new intraoccular lens will accompany you the rest of your life. There are some very rare instances in which an intraoccular lens is exchanged, but that’s not the norm.
Why is this important? Well, the doctor is making an educated guess, anticipating that certain power- prescription strength or correction built into the intraoccular lens is going to work better for you. They go ahead and insert the lens; however, you truly won’t know until it’s in, and you’ve had a chance to heal. Most doctors have an assortment of prescriptions- power corrections in stock, they pick the one that is most likely going to fit you best.

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Like with everything, there are cheap lenses that are tried and true, and there are fancy super innovative revolutionary amazing lenses that may not be that great in the end.

When getting a pair of shoes. You go to the store, try the best fit and pay according to what you pick and what’s available. If your size is 11-3/4, but the manufacturers have 11.5 or 12, then it’s going to be one of the 2 available. They won’t have one just right. Like getting used to a new pair, with time. you won’t feel them provided they are close enough to your size.

3. Most doctors or cataract specialist stay mildly quite about the final level of satisfaction patients have with intraoccular prescription correction. You will hear about patients no longer needling glasses and being able to see near and far. playing tennis and golfing the very next day etc.etc.etc. I don’t think that’s the result most of us end up with. Close, very close, but not totally free from needing glasses.

I must use glasses all of the time. For work and for diving, but then, most people need to use readers before and after cataract surgery. For diving, I use scleral lenses, but that’s a different topic.

I’ve had other eye conditions aside from cataracts which are more challenging and complex; however, to answer the second part of your question, I enjoy underwater photography and the cataract procedures had no adverse impacts on my hobby.

I do use a magnified viewfinder with my cameras, but most underwater photographers find that to be a useful device and a must have gadget.

4. Last but not least, not sure about your comment pertaining to laser. In my case, the doctors had to perform a yag laser procedure to break a clouded tissue that forms between the intraoccular lens and the natural capsule where the lens sits. It’s quick, painless and simple. The cloudiness happens a few weeks right after surgery. Once the laser opens or burns away the clouded tissue, the clouding goes away. If that’s the laser you are talking about, that’s normal.

Should you open your eyes underwater?

boys eyes open under water

Can water damage your eyes if you swim with your eyes open?

You should wear swim goggles or keep your eyes closed underwater. This is true whether you’re in a pool, hot tub, lake, river or the ocean. Opening your eyes underwater without protection can lead to an allergic reaction, eye irritation or a serious eye infection that may cause vision loss.

Can you open your eyes in a swimming pool?

You may think it would be safe to open your eyes in a swimming pool. The water is chlorinated after all. But opening your eyes in a pool is actually a bad idea for several reasons.

You can still get an eye infection from opening your eyes in a pool, especially if the water hasn’t been treated properly. Swimming pool water may contain bacteria, viruses, protozoa and molds. Swimming in pools has caused outbreaks of illness that led to pink eye (conjunctivitis) in swimmers. One study indicated that as many as 10% of routine checks of pools, hot tubs and water parks have resulted in immediate closure due to improper water treatment.

Second, chlorine can hurt your eyes because it’s a powerful chemical and eye irritant. Chlorine and other pool chemicals can disrupt your tear film, which consists of oils, mucus and water. Your tear film also keeps your eyes moist and comfortable.

Unfortunately, exposure to pool chemicals can lead to dry eyes, which can cause a wide range of discomfort.

Opening your eyes underwater in a chlorinated pool may cause:

Eye irritation or pain

Sensitivity to light (photophobia)

All this said, can chlorine damage your eyesight? Chlorine may harm your eyes temporarily, especially if you open them underwater. But they should recover quickly with rest, cool compresses and artificial tears.

It’s best to avoid these eye issues in the first place by wearing a well-fitting pair of swim goggles. Goggles will safely let you see underwater while protecting your eyes from infection and irritation.

Can you open your eyes in the ocean?

You should never open your eyes while swimming in the ocean because the saltwater may irritate your eyes. Plus, you could get an eye infection. In fact, scientists have found more of the bacteria and viruses known to cause eye infections in ocean water than in swimming pools.

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You may wonder, “why does saltwater irritate my eyes when tears are made of saltwater?” Ocean water is much saltier than tears. Due to the high salt content, ocean water may dehydrate your eyes and cause eye burning and stinging.

If you plan to swim in the ocean and want to see underwater, swimming goggles or a diving mask will protect your eyes.

Can you open your eyes in a lake or river?

You should never open your eyes when swimming in a lake or river as doing so puts you at risk for a serious eye infection. The freshwater in lakes and rivers may be contaminated with algae, chemicals and microbes from agricultural runoff, sewage spills or other swimmers.

Since lakes and rivers aren’t disinfected with chlorine or other chemicals like pools, hot tubs and splash pads, they may put you at higher risk for an eye infection. You should always wear well-fitting swim goggles and dry your face off as soon as you get out of the water.

Swimming in a lake or river, especially if you open your eyes, can cause pink eye or more serious parasitic eye infections.

Can you open your eyes underwater with contacts?

Opening your eyes underwater with contacts carries additional risks. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends that you don’t expose your contacts to any water. This includes tap, bottled, distilled, pool, lake or ocean water.

If you do swim with contacts in, it’s best to use daily disposables and wear waterproof swim goggles.

This is important because contact lens wearers face an especially high risk of serious eye infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites in water. One particularly dangerous eye infection is acanthamoeba keratitis (AK).

AK is often associated with wearing contacts in pools or hot tubs. This parasitic corneal infection can cause vision loss or even blindness. Contact lens wearers need to be careful in water because contacts provide a place for bacteria and other microbes to grow.

Contact lens wearers may also experience more irritation and corneal damage from pool chemicals. Opening your eyes underwater in a chlorinated swimming pool while wearing contacts can damage the eyes. This is because the contacts absorb the chlorine, causing extended contact with the surface of the eye.

Can you open your eyes underwater after LASIK?

You should not open your eyes underwater after LASIK. If you’ve recently had laser eye surgery, your eye surgeon will give you instructions for what to do. And they will also explain what not to do, during the healing period.

For example, your eye surgeon may recommend that you not swim for at least the first six weeks or so after laser eye surgery. You may face a higher risk of waterborne eye infections while your eyes are healing. Plus, even wearing swim goggles during this period could delay the healing process.

Talk to your eye doctor about how long to wait before swimming after LASIK or other eye surgery. And as outlined above, don’t open your eyes underwater after LASIK, even after your eyes have healed.

See your eye doctor

If you develop troublesome eye symptoms after swimming, see your eye doctor right away. They can perform an eye exam, diagnose the problem and prescribe the right treatment. And you’ll be back to swimming (with quality swim goggles) in no time.

Notes and References

A review and update on waterborne viral diseases associated with swimming pools. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. January 2019.

Recreational water illnesses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 2022.

Swimming and eye health. U.S. Masters Swimming. March 2015.

Ask a scientist: underwater eyes. National Eye Institute. January 2015.

Contact lens risks. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. September 2018.

Eyes react to pool water. University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. June 2017.

Acanthamoeba keratitis FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 2010.

Source https://scubaboard.com/community/threads/diving-after-lasik-eye-surgery.951/

Source https://scubaboard.com/community/threads/diving-after-cataract-surgery.563544/

Source https://www.allaboutvision.com/eye-care/eye-health/opening-eyes-under-water/#:~:text=You%20should%20not%20open%20your%20eyes%20underwater%20after,what%20not%20to%20do,%20during%20the%20healing%20period.

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