For many people considering having laser eye surgery one of the first things they want to know is whether or not the procedure is painful. Surprisingly this is often more of an issue than the risks or costs involved with the surgery.
People are often quite squeamish and are worried about all sorts of things such as the use of needles and the burning sensation of the laser. The aim of this blog post is to address some of the main concerns people have about the procedure.
The first thing to mention is that laser eye surgery does not involve the use of any needles at all and the eyes are numbed using anaesthetic eye drops which cause mild stinging at worst. The vast majority of people undergoing laser eye surgery experience very little pain at all and most people report only a mild feeling of pressure during the procedure.
The only part of the procedure that some people find uncomfortable is the use of the instrument to keep the eye lids open, to ensure you do not blink during the surgery. This is only uncomfortable if you ‘fight against it’ so the key thing to do is to try and remain relaxed – this is of course easier said than done for some people.
The actual lasering of the eye is completely painless and you won’t even be aware that it is happening. Contrary to many people’s belief that the laser burns the surface of the eye, the laser itself is in fact actually cold. The actual lasering of the eye typically only takes around 30 – 40 seconds depending on the extent of your prescription. All other aspects of the surgery are completely painless as your eyes are completely anaesthetised.
Although there is very little pain involved in the actual procedure there can be some discomfort during the recovery period. This is very much dependent on which type of laser eye surgery you are having. The two main types of laser eye surgery are Lasik and Lasek and you can read about how they differ in the following guide: what is the difference between Lasik and Lasek?
Lasik is by far the most common procedure accounting for around 90% of all procedures performed. Lasek is generally only undertaken when you have been deemed unsuitable for Lasik with the most likely reason to be a thin cornea. During a laser eye surgery consultation all the appropriate measurements will be taken to see which procedure you are suitable for. Depending on which treatment you have the recovery period is described below:
Even after the anaesthetic eye drops have worn off there is generally very little discomfort associated with the Lasik recovery. Following Lasik surgery people generally experience a mild stinging, itching and dry sensation but this is the worst it gets for most people. The symptoms quickly wear off and most people can return to work and everyday activities 24 – 48 hours after the surgery. This quick and painless recovery period is the number one reason why Lasik is the procedure of choice.
The symptoms following Lasek are generally more pronounced and last for a longer period of time. Some people can be in quite moderate pain after Lasek and pain killers will generally be prescribed by your surgeon. Symptoms do improve over 24 – 48 hours but most people report discomfort up to 1 week post-surgery.
In summary, laser eye surgery involves very little if any discomfort at all and should definitely not be a reason to put you off having the treatment. The vast majority of people experience only mild pressure during the actual procedure and the more relaxed you are the less discomfort you are likely to feel. The Lasik recovery is generally quicker and more comfortable than the Lasek recovery and this is why it is the most popular procedure.