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Why you shouldn’t wear perfume the day you get LASIK

By Joel Hunter, MD | 1/24/19 7:00 AM
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First off, your perfume smells great. And after LASIK, you can enjoy all the new sights while smelling amazing. The only issue with perfume and LASIK is the day of the actual procedure. You may hear during a pre-op call that one of the steps the day of the procedure is about something you don’t do, rather than something to do. Namely, don’t wear perfume the day you are getting LASIK?

Does it really matter?

You may be thinking, “Why in the dickens would that matter?” and if so, I like the cut of your jib. I also say the word dickens because it reminds me of my grandma, who said it all the time. The reason to avoid perfume the day of LASIK is the same reason that we tightly control the temperature and humidity of the LASIK suite. It’s all about controlling every variable possible so that the only two factors are the laser and your eyes.

I say laser in the singular sense rather than lasers because perfume doesn’t matter for the first laser. That laser is called a femtosecond laser. It made blades obsolete because now instead of a blade (I know, yikes!) being necessary for the first step, we use a femtosecond laser. It is safer and better than a blade – as you may have already assumed – but it also does just fine in the presence of nice-smelling perfume.

Pure, clean air is very important.

The second laser is called an excimer laser. It is the one that fixes your prescription. It is for that laser that we optimize the air in the room to an admittedly neurotic level. Humidity? Controlled down the to the percent. Temperature? Controlled down to the degree. Air quality? Optimized with a gigantic HEPA filtration HVAC system that keeps the air so pure you’d never sneeze again if you lived in there. Perfume? Please don’t wear any.

The last one is the one that you control since we can’t do it for you. Perfume – like dust particles or water molecules in the form of humidity – floats in the air. It is tiny molecules that sit in the air fill up a space where nothing but air should be. Therein lies the problem. We need nothing in the air except air. And if you can smell perfume, it means there’s something else in the air besides air.

The excimer laser light travels through about 12 inches from the laser to your eye. It’s invisible because it is a very short wavelength of light (it’s 193 nanometers and we can only see down to a wavelength of about 400 nanometers). That very short wavelength ensures that the first thing that laser energy touches, it will “fix.” It doesn’t, it just can’t, penetrate even the slightest amount. So you can imagine why we don’t want extra stuff in the air. We want the exact right amount of laser energy to treat your eye, and not a tenth of a percent less.

For post-op, feel free to wear the extra dose of perfume you skipped the day before. You’ll smell wonderful and make the whole office happy. But the day you get LASIK, enjoy some of the freshest, purest air you’ve ever smelled in the LASIK suite. Leave the perfume scent for another day. Your eyes will thank you for it.

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These articles are brought to you by Hunter Vision. We help people in Orlando discover life after glasses and contacts.
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