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Does LASIK Hurt? Get The Facts

does lasik eye surgery hurt

Are you considering LASIK eye surgery but are held back by the fear of pain? You’re not alone. The question, “Does LASIK hurt?” is a common concern among prospective patients. The good news is that LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is generally not painful for the vast majority of patients. Some discomfort may be experienced, but it’s typically minor and brief..

In this article, we’ll delve into the LASIK procedure, the discomfort associated with it, and how it compares to other everyday experiences. We’ll also discuss the role of local anesthetic, the laser vision correction process, and the steps taken by your eye surgeon to minimize discomfort.

Does LASIK Eye Surgery Hurt?

The majority of patients report almost no pain during LASIK surgery. While some discomfort may be experienced, it is typically minor and brief.

The discomfort usually occurs during the corneal flap creation portion of the procedure, where a suction ring is placed and pressure is applied on the eye. This isn’t painful, but patients sometimes describe the feeling of pressure in their eye as a discomforting sensation.

Anesthetic eye drops are used to completely numb the eye and ensure patient comfort.

Minimizing Pain and Discomfort During LASIK

LASIK eye surgery is designed to be as comfortable as possible for the patient. Here’s what is done to minimize pain and discomfort:

does lasik hurt
  1. Numbing Drops: Prior to the LASIK surgery, your eye surgeon will administer numbing eye drops to your eyes. These anesthetic eye drops help to ensure that you don’t feel any pain during the surgery and provide excellent pain control.
  2. Oral Sedative: In most cases, an oral sedative may be offered to help you relax during the procedure. This isn’t a general anesthesia, but it can help to reduce anxiety and discomfort.
  3. Short Procedure: Laser eye surgery itself is quick, typically taking just a few minutes per eye. This short duration helps to minimize any potential discomfort.
  4. Femtosecond Laser: The use of a femtosecond laser in creating the corneal flap in modern LASIK surgery has improved patient comfort. This laser creates a precise flap without the need for a blade, reducing discomfort and potential complications.
  5. Postoperative Pain Management: After the surgery, your eye doctor will provide you with medicated eye drops to help manage any postoperative pain and inflammation. These drops also promote healing.
  6. Follow-Up Appointments: Regular follow-up appointments with your eye surgeon will ensure that your eyes are healing properly and any discomfort is managed effectively.

Remember, every patient’s experience with laser eye surgery can be different. It’s important to have open communication with your eye surgeon about what you can expect and how any discomfort will be managed.

Different Sensations in Each Eye

Some patients report that the pressure sensation felt when they’re being operated on is different for each eye, experiencing slightly more discomfort in the second eye.

The reason for this is usually largely mental. The first eye comes as a bit of a surprise. The patient doesn’t know what to expect and may be experiencing some nerves.

Some patients are more relaxed by the time the surgeon gets to the second eye, so they’re paying more attention to how it feels. This is perfectly normal, and nothing for patients to worry about. The discomfort felt in the second eye is still minimal.

Comparing LASIK Discomfort to Other Experiences

Many patients say they would rather undergo a LASIK procedure than take a trip to the dentist. The only negative feeling LASIK patients tend to have is the feeling of regret for not having gone through with the procedure sooner. LASIK routinely ranks low on the pain scale in patient surveys.

Does LASIK Surgery Hurt After?

So is LASIK eye surgery painful after the procedure? After LASIK eye surgery, patients may experience some discomfort, but it’s typically minimal and temporary.

The most common sensations reported are a minor burning sensation or itching feeling in the eyes. These symptoms are part of the healing process and usually subside within a few hours after the procedure.

Some patients may also experience light sensitivity in the first few hours following the procedure, but wearing sunglasses can help manage this.

It’s important to note that severe pain is not typical and should be reported to your eye doctor immediately.

Using prescribed eye drops can help prevent inflammation and infection, promoting a smoother recovery process. While your vision may be blurry or hazy immediately after the procedure, it should start to improve within a few hours, although it may take up to a few weeks to fully stabilize.

Overall, while some discomfort may be present after LASIK, it is generally well-tolerated by most patients.

Managing Postoperative Discomfort

Your eye doctor will provide specific instructions for postoperative care, which will include:

  • Prescribed eye drops: These help prevent postoperative inflammation and infection and preservative free artificial tears to keep your eyes moist.
  • Protective eye shield: This is especially important when sleeping in the first few days after surgery to avoid rubbing your eyes and prevent damage to the LASIK flap
  • Avoid strenuous activities: This includes any activity that may lead to eye injury or strain, such as contact sports or heavy lifting.

The Recovery Process

After the LASIK procedure, you may experience some discomfort, but it’s usually mild and short-lived. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Light sensitivity: This is normal in the first few hours following the procedure. Wearing sunglasses can help.
  • Minor burning or itching sensation: This is part of the healing process and usually subsides within a few hours.
  • Blurry vision and haziness: Your vision should start to improve within a few hours, but it may take up to a few weeks to stabilize.

Is LASIK Worth It?

Despite the potential for minor discomfort, most patients find that LASIK is worth it. The procedure has a high success rate, with over 90% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or better. Moreover, the discomfort experienced during and after the procedure is typically minimal and temporary. The prospect of improved vision and freedom from glasses and contact lenses often outweighs these temporary inconveniences.

More than 98% of patients were satisfied with their laser vision correction and achieved their goal of surgery.

Laser eye surgery may cause some mild discomfort and mild pain, it’s generally minimal and short-lived. The use of numbing eye drops, careful preparation, and following postoperative instructions can help ensure a smooth procedure and recovery. As always, it’s important to discuss any concerns with your eye doctor to make an informed decision about your vision correction options.


  • How long does it take for the eyes to heal after LASIK?

    The initial healing process takes a few days, but it can take up to two weeks for any mild pain or discomfort to completely resolve. Most patients can return to their normal activities the day after surgery while avoiding eye rubbing, pool/hot tub, and strenuous activity.

  • What should I expect in the first few weeks after LASIK?

    In the first few weeks after LASIK, it’s normal to experience some vision difficulties such as glare, halos, or starbursts around lights. These symptoms usually improve as your eyes heal and your vision stabilizes. The vision is typically very good at 1 week out from surgery.

  • Is LASIK a safe vision correction procedure?

    LASIK is considered a safe procedure with a high success rate. However, as with any surgery, it does carry some risks. Potential complications can include dry eyes, infection, or inflammation. It’s important to discuss these risks with your eye surgeon before deciding on LASIK. In fact, over time, the risk of infection with contact lens use was more than LASIK.

  • How long does the improved vision from LASIK last?

    LASIK provides long-lasting vision correction. However, it’s important to note that LASIK does not prevent age-related vision changes, such as presbyopia or cataracts. These typically start in your 40’s and 60’s respectively. Regular follow-up appointments with your eye doctor can help ensure that your vision remains at its best.

  • Is there anything I should avoid doing after LASIK?

    After LASIK, you should avoid rubbing your eyes, participating in contact sports, and swimming for at least two weeks. You should also wear goggles when showering for the first few days to avoid getting water in your eyes.

Final Thoughts

While the thought of LASIK eye surgery can be intimidating, it’s important to remember that the procedure is designed with patient comfort in mind. From the use of numbing eye drops to the quickness of the surgery itself, every step is taken to minimize discomfort. LASIK eye surgery is not painful.

Postoperative pain is generally mild and temporary, and your eye doctor will provide you with clear instructions and medications to help manage any discomfort and promote healing.

The vast majority of patients find that the benefits of clear vision, far outweigh the brief period of discomfort. Find out how to prepare for LASIK here.

As with any medical procedure, it’s crucial to discuss any concerns with your eye surgeon to ensure you have a full understanding of what to expect during and after LASIK surgery.