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Frequently Asked Questions · Eye Surgery

Does LASIK Surgery Hurt?

Most patients report feeling only slight pressure or minor discomfort, often describing the experience as painless.

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Does LASIK Eye Surgery Hurt

Does LASIK Eye Surgery Hurt?

Most patients state that they  feel only slight pressure or minor discomfort, often describing the experience as painless. For the first several hours after the procedure, some individuals experience mild irritation, tearing, or a foreign body sensation for the first several hours.  It is important to rest for the first few hours after treatment which helps reduce discomfort and speeds up healing. It’s important to follow post-operative care instructions provided by your surgeon to minimize any discomfort. Overall, Lasik eye surgery is generally considered a well-tolerated and virtually pain free procedure, offering improved vision without significant pain.

How Painful is Laser Eye Surgery?

The pain associated with laser eye surgery, such as LASIK or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), is generally minimal. Most people report feeling only mild discomfort or pressure during the procedure, and the surgery itself is typically brief, lasting only a few minutes per eye.

How Long Do Your Eyes Hurt After LASIK?

Here is a general timeline:

  1. Immediately After LASIK: Many patients report a burning or gritty sensation in their eyes immediately after the procedure. This discomfort typically lasts for a few hours.
  2. First Day: Some patients may experience mild pain or discomfort on the first day, but this tends to improve as time passes.
  3. First Few Days: Over the next few days, patients may continue to experience some irritation, light sensitivity, and a foreign body sensation in the eyes. Using prescribed eye drops and following post-operative care instructions can help alleviate these symptoms.
  4. First Week: By the end of the first week, most patients find that any discomfort has significantly decreased, and they may resume normal activities.

Understanding LASIK Surgery

Before we address the question of whether LASIK eye surgery hurts, it’s essential to understand the basics of the procedure. LASIK is a refractive surgery that reshapes the cornea to improve how light enters the eye, thereby correcting vision problems. The surgery typically involves the following steps:

  1. Anesthetic Eye Drops: The surgeon starts by numbing the  eye with anesthetic eye drops.  The eye drops ensure that the you do not feel pain during the procedure.
  2. Flap Creation: A microkeratome or femtosecond laser is used to create a thin, hinged flap on the cornea’s surface. Once created, this flap is lifted to access the underlying corneal tissue.
  3. Cornea Reshaping: An excimer laser is used to precisely remove a very small amount of corneal tissue based on your  unique vision prescription. 
  4. Flap Placement: The corneal flap is carefully repositioned, and it naturally adheres without the need for sutures.
  5. Recovery: Your eyes typically begin the healing process within minutes.  Post-operative care and prescription medications are provided to ensure a smooth recovery.

What Does LASIK Feel Like?

During the Procedure: Minimal Discomfort

One of the most important things to note is that LASIK surgery is designed to be as painless as possible. The initial step of anesthetizing the eye with numbing drops ensures you  do not experience pain during the procedure. Instead, what most individuals feel is minimal discomfort or sensations of pressure.

The flap creation process can be slightly uncomfortable, as yout may experience a feeling of pressure very temporarily on the eye.

Unlike what you may see in the movies, the excimer laser used to reshape the cornea does not generate heat.  There is minimal risk of burning or discomfort during the procedure. This aspect contributes to the overall comfort of the procedure.

It’s worth emphasizing that LASIK.com surgeons are highly experienced and skilled, ensuring the procedure is as swift and efficient as possible to minimize any potential discomfort.

Does LASIK Hurt After The Surgery?

Common post-operative sensations include:

  1. Burning or Gritty Sensation: Some patients may experience a burning or gritty sensation in their eyes immediately after the procedure.
  2. Tearing and Light Sensitivity: Your eyes may tear up, and you may be sensitive to light for a short period following LASIK.
  3. Dry Eyes: Many people experience dry eyes after LASIK, and your doctor may recommend artificial tears to help alleviate this symptom.
  4. Mild Pain or Discomfort: Some patients may experience mild pain or discomfort for a few hours to a day after the surgery. This is usually manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications provided by your surgeon.

It’s important to follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions carefully, including using any prescribed eye drops and avoiding activities that may strain your eyes. Most patients find that any discomfort or pain diminishes significantly within the first day or two after surgery.


Patient Experiences: A Range of Sensations

Experiences with LASIK surgery can vary, but the majority of individuals describe the procedure as relatively painless. Some common sensations reported during the procedure include:

  1. Pressure: As mentioned earlier, pressure is one of the primary sensations patients may experience during the surgery. It’s typically not painful but may be a bit uncomfortable.
  2. Vibrations: The excimer laser can produce slight vibrations during corneal reshaping. While this is more of an unusual sensation, it is not painful.
  3. Smell: Some patients have reported a mild, transient odor during the procedure. The odor comes from a chemical reaction as the laser reshapes the  cornea. 

It’s crucial to remember that any sensations experienced during LASIK are generally brief, lasting only a few seconds or minutes per eye. Furthermore, most patients are pleasantly surprised by how quickly the procedure is completed.

Preoperative and Postoperative Discomfort

The discomfort or pain associated with LASIK surgery is typically limited to the preoperative and postoperative phases.

  1. Preoperative Discomfort:
  1. Postoperative Discomfort:

Managing LASIK Surgery Pain and Discomfort

The discomfort or pain associated with LASIK surgery, both during and after the procedure, is generally minimal and temporary. However, there are several strategies to ensure a smooth and comfortable LASIK experience:

  1. Preoperative Preparation:
    • Follow preoperative instructions provided by your surgeon, which may include the use of prescribed medications and eye drops.
    • Arrive at the surgical center well-rested and well-hydrated to reduce anxiety and improve comfort.
  2. Communication:
    • Discuss any concerns or anxieties with your LASIK surgeon. They can address your worries and provide reassurance, which can alleviate preoperative discomfort.
  3. Follow Postoperative Instructions:
    • Strictly adhere to the postoperative care guidelines provided by your surgeon. This includes using prescribed eye drops and avoiding activities that could put undue stress on your eyes.
  4. Pain Management:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended by your surgeon to manage any postoperative discomfort. However, most patients find these medications unnecessary.
  5. Rest and Recovery:
    • Taking it easy after the surgery is essential. Adequate rest and avoiding activities that strain the eyes will contribute to a smoother healing process.

Is LASIK Eye Surgery Painful?

In summary, LASIK eye surgery is generally regarded as a minimally painful or painless procedure. While sensations of pressure and discomfort may be felt during the procedure, the use of numbing eye drops and the quick, precise nature of the surgeon and lasers ensure  minimal pain and discomfort.

Preoperative and postoperative discomfort is also typically short-lived and manageable with proper care and communication with your LASIK surgeon. It’s important to consult with a qualified LASIK specialist, discuss your concerns, and follow their guidance for a comfortable and successful LASIK experience. Ultimately, the benefits of LASIK in providing clear, crisp vision often far outweigh any temporary discomfort associated with the procedure.

References

  1. Does LASIK Surgery Hurt?. April 21, 2023 LASIK Vision Institute .
  2. Addressing the Common Question: "Does LASIK Hurt?". September 1, 2022 LasikPlus.
  3. Does LASIK Surgery Hurt. February 7, 2010 Qualsight.

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