Does LASIK Hurt?

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Does LASIK Hurt During or After The Procedure?

LASIK Eye Surgery causes little to no pain during and after the procedure.

Though it might seem as though using a laser to correct vision problems would be painful, that’s not the case with LASIK. How does LASIK work? Did people who underwent the procedure report that the surgery hurt?

Step 1: Your eye doctor places numbing eye drops in your eyes to numb the surface of the eye. You are awake and alert during the procedure. There is no leftover foggy or groggy feeling once the LASIK procedure is complete because there was no use of general anesthesia. However, surgeons often offer a mild sedative to help you relax before the surgery.


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Step 2: The surgeon creates a corneal flap in your eye. This is usually when people feel the most discomfort, which they report as a sensation of pressure. Your eyelids are held open with a tool so the eye surgeon can work.

Step 3: The excimer laser reshapes your cornea. It is precisely accurate and guided by a computer to map the structure of your eye. After the excimer laser finishes, the surgeon smooths the flap back into place.

Step 4: That’s it, the laser eye surgery is complete. After the procedure, some people report minor stinging, burning, or discomfort as your vision stabilizes and your eyes heal, but overall it is relatively pain-free. The after-effects typically last a few days at the most.

diagram showing six steps of lasik eye surgery

Risks & Side Effects of LASIK

LASIK is a safe procedure with relatively few side effects. It is FDA approved, as long as the patient’s vision has stabilized and a qualified eye surgeon performs the procedure with an approved laser.

Most people who undergo LASIK experience a temporary gritty feeling in their eyes. As their vision stabilizes, they have blurriness, mild discomfort, and tearing. Some people also report light sensitivity. All of these side effects clear up within a few days after surgery.

Some patients experience halos with night vision for a few weeks after the procedure. You might also struggle with dry eyes for a few weeks.

There are very few side effects associated with LASIK procedures. However, it is still surgery and this means things can still go wrong. It’s important to work with an experienced LASIK surgeon and discuss the potential risks before opting to have the procedure.

LASIK is not appropriate for correcting all eye conditions and not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. It corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Most doctors offer a free LASIK consultation to help you determine if you are a good candidate. There is a risk of lost vision for some people.

Although LASIK is considered a safe and effective procedure, there are complications associated with the surgery. For example:

  • Severe dry eye syndrome, in which your eyes are no longer able to produce sufficient tears
  • Touch-up or follow-up procedures for further vision correction because changes occurred during
  • Vision loss

Will I Be Awake During LASIK Surgery?

Yes, you will be awake during the LASIK procedure. The entire process usually takes about 10 minutes, which includes about a minute of laser shaping on each eye.

LASIK surgery takes about 10 minutes or less. It does not require general anesthesia. The laser reshaping process typically lasts less than one minute per eye.

What Happens if You Blink During LASIK Eye Surgery?

It’s easy to understand why people undergoing LASIK procedures are concerned about blinking. Most people blink many times per minute and this rate increases if they are nervous or focused on their eyes.

There is no reason to worry about blinking during LASIK. The local anesthetic drops placed in your eyes before blinking lubricates them and reduces discomfort, making it easier not to blink. 

Doctors performing LASIK also use an instrument that holds your eyes open during the procedure. This ensures that even if you get the urge to blink your eyes will stay open.

Can You See Immediately After LASIK?

Yes, but most people experience some blurriness that eventually gives way to clear vision within a few days after surgery. You’ll wear a protective covering over your eyes initially and won’t know for sure what your vision is like until your doctor instructs you to remove the cover. If your vision does not gradually clear or you notice blurriness worsening, you should follow-up with your doctor.

LASIK Recovery Tips

Recovering from LASIK Surgery is relatively uncomplicated for most people. However, it was a surgical procedure, so most people experience some mild side effects including itching or burning in their eyes. Most of the side effects ease within a few days.

The following are helpful post-Lasik tips:

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes
  • Take any medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses even if your vision is blurry
  • Await further recommendations from your doctor before engaging in any moderate to intense physical activity, including swimming or using a hot tub
  • Avoid the use of eye makeup and other cosmetic and skincare products around the eyes until your doctor says they are safe to use
  • Avoid any activity that could result in bumping or hitting your eyes for at least a month after the procedure

Make sure you contact your doctor to schedule an eye exam if you experience severe pain or your vision appears to be worsening after the initial recovery time. The healing process can take up to six months for your vision to stabilize completely. Proper eye care is important and you should continue to undergo annual eye exams once you are completely healed.

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Author: Vision Center Staff | UPDATED October 19, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. 
Resources

Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “What Should I Expect before, during, and after Surgery?” FDA, 8 Feb. 2019, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/what-should-i-expect-during-and-after-surgery.

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “What Are the Risks and How Can I Find the Right Doctor for Me?” FDA, 3 Nov. 2018, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/what-are-risks-and-how-can-i-find-right-doctor-me.

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “List of FDA-Approved Lasers for LASIK.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/list-fda-approved-lasers-lasik.

“LASIK Surgery: Is It Right for You?” Mayo Clinic, 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lasik-eye-surgery/in-depth/lasik-surgery/art-20045751.

 

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