Does LASIK Surgery Hurt?

By Gordon Wong, OD on June 15, 2014

A dark-haired woman with clear vision, looking off in the distanceWhen patients undergo any type of surgery, they have a certain amount of apprehension about the amount of pain that they will experience during or after surgery. For patients undergoing LASIK surgery, the sense of nervousness may be heightened since the procedure is performed on the eyes. Some patients have such a high level of anxiety that they choose not to undergo LASIK surgery, even though this quick procedure can result in permanently clear vision. What many patients don’t know is that LASIK surgery takes only a few minutes to perform, and patients do not experience any pain during the procedure. At GW Eye Associates Inc. in San Diego, our team makes every effort to minimize patient discomfort through every stage of the LASIK procedure.

During Surgery

Patients tend to be most fearful about the microkeratome and/or laser contact with the eyes during LASIK surgery. These patients should know that numbing eye drops will be applied to the eyes prior to treatment. This prevents any pain from being felt when the surgical tools make contact with the eyes. Rather than pain, patients may feel light pressure being applied to the eye area.

Other patients may be afraid that they will involuntarily close the eyes during surgery, resulting in laser or microkeratome contact with the eyelids. However, surgeons will use a speculum, a device that keeps the eye open for the duration of surgery. Though the eyes are open, special eye drops will be applied that temporarily black out vision and prevent patients from actually seeing the surgical tools making contact with the eyes.

LASIK surgery takes just a couple of minutes per eye. The quickness of the procedure, paired with the use of numbing eye drops, black out eye drops, and the speculum make the treatment process much easier on patients. In fact, the majority of LASIK patients find that the procedure is much easier to handle than they initially thought.

After Surgery

When it comes to LASIK, the highest degree of pain is often experienced as soon as the numbing eye medication wears out, typically 30 minutes to an hour after the surgery is performed. However, there are ways to reduce and manage this pain.

First, patients should take over-the-counter pain medication as soon as the surgical appointment is complete. By taking pain medication before the numbing eye drops wear off, you can be assured that the effects of the medicine will kick in before the discomfort occurs.

Second, patients should close their eyes and rest as soon as they return home from surgery. Most patients find that the level of discomfort is decreased if the eyes are closed. Opening the eyes can dry them out, and blinking can result in unpleasant friction on the healing corneal flap.

Finally, patients should have lubricating eye drops on hand to reduce discomfort in the hours and days after LASIK surgery. Though the worst of the LASIK pain goes away after a few hours, patients may experience a dry or itchy feeling of the eyes for about a week after surgery. Lubricating eye drops can relieve this discomfort.

To schedule a LASIK consultation, contact GW Eye Associates today.

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