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Does LASIK Hurt?

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LASIK does not hurt. Numbing eye drops keep you comfortable during surgery. As your eyes heal, you may feel minor discomfort. Some light burning and itching sensations are common. These issues will fade as your tissues heal.

Will I Feel Pain During LASIK Surgery?

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You should not feel pain during LASIK surgery. You’ll take calming medications before the procedure starts, and your doctor will apply numbing eye drops. These two therapies will keep you from experiencing significant pain while your doctor corrects your vision.

Understanding the LASIK procedure is important, as you’re awake during surgery. But you should not feel pain. The following steps are involved:

  • Numbing the eyes: Your doctor places eye drops into your eyes to prepare them for surgery. Lubricant eye drops keep tissues moist.
  • Preparing the eyes: Your doctor uses a lid holder to keep your eyes open during surgery. These tools don’t pinch or press on your eyes. You shouldn’t feel the lid holder
  • Holding the eye still: During LASIK eye surgery, your doctor uses a suction device to hold your eye still. In a study of 154 patients, some reported mild discomfort during this step. On a pain scale of 1 to 4, they ranked their pain at 0.8. If you do feel discomfort, it should be mild. 
  • Exposing the cornea: Your eye  doctor uses a  Femtosecond laser to create a flap in your corneal tissue. The flap is two human hairs thick. You may feel some pressure when the flap is created. 
  • Reshaping the cornea: Your doctor folds the flap back and exposes deeper tissue. You’ll look at the laser, and you’ll hear it working. You may smell a peculiar smess too. This step takes 5 to 20 seconds. 
  • Finalizing the procedure: Your doctor puts the flap back, and your surgery is done.

It’s natural to worry about pain during eye surgery. Your doctor is there to answer your questions, reassure you, and offer support. You’re not alone during LASIK, and the procedure lasts just a few minutes.

Do I Have to be Awake During Surgery?

You must be awake during surgery to help the doctor. Looking at the laser fixation light ensures the lasers  make the precise ablation  needed to improve your vision. Laser trackers that track the eye more than a 1000 times a second ensure that every pulse is delivered exactly where it is supposed to. Medications for LASIK procedures, including anesthetic eye drops and your preoperative sedative, ensure you feel calm and comfortable during the surgery.

Will My Eyes Hurt After LASIK?

Your eye drops and oral medications will wear off after surgery. When they do, you may feel minor burning, stinging, or dryness in your eyes, but these sensations may pass within 4 hours. You can  bypass any discomfort after surgery if you go to sleep for 4+ hours after surgery with the help of the relaxing medications you are given.

Some people are familiar with these symptoms. Up to 50 percent of people who have LASIK have dry eyes before surgery, often caused by long-term contact lens wear. If you have dry eyes before the procedure, the condition may worsen a bit as you recover.

Preventing pain after LASIK means taking the following steps:

  • Protect your eyes. Wear an eye  shield given to you by your eye surgeon to protect your eyes, and wear sunglasses when you go outside.
  • Rest your eyes. Watching TV, reading, or close work can tax your healing eyes. Rest in a darkened room for the first few hours after surgery until you feel better. 
  • Use medications. Use the eye drops your doctor prescribed.

Most people feel better within hours after  surgery. And researchers say newer lasers are associated with fewer side effects, such as light sensitivity or halos and glare. 

Recovering from the surgery is typically quick and easy. Use your medications, keep your appointments, and you’ll be on track. And soon, the benefits of permanent vision correction will become clear.

Side Effects That May Cause Discomfort

LASIK side effects are typically mild and short-lived. A good LASIK doctor will help you understand what to expect and how to minimize discomfort after surgery. 

In one study, researchers found the following side effects for the first few weeks after LASIK:

  • Mild discomfort: More than 95 percent of people felt short-lived discomfort following surgery. 
  • Light sensitivity: About 85 percent of patients experienced this side effect. 
  • Burning: More than 60 percent of patients experienced this symptom.
  • Foreign body: Nearly half of participants felt like there was something inside their eyes.

These issues were all brief. LASIK side effects are temporary symptoms that fade as your eyes heal. Complications are different. 

LASIK complications are symptoms that appear after surgery that may not go away without medical attention (like another surgery). Less than 1 percent of LASIK procedures result in complications like this. True complications are very rare. 

Rare LASIK complications include the following:

  • Infections – one in several thousand surgeries
  • Dislodged Flaps  – one in a thousand surgeries
  • Vision that is less than optimal – less than 1%

If you experience pain, vision difficulties, or any other issue after LASIK, talk with your doctor. Together, you can find a way to help your eyes heal.

More than 98 percent of people who have LASIK are satisfied after surgery. They can see better, their side effects fade, and they’re ready to recommend the procedure to others.



We’ve compiled some common questions and answers about LASIK and pain, along with answers from our experts.

Can I be under general anesthesia for the surgery?

No. LASIK is a type of laser eye surgery, and you must focus on the laser during the procedure. Your focus ensures the laser is properly centered How long will my eyes hurt after LASIK?

You should not feel overt pain after LASIK. You may feel discomfort for a day or two. Most people have LASIK on both eyes at once, so they can move through discomfort just once in their lifetime.

Can you blink during LASIK?

No. Your doctor will use a lid holder to keep your eyes open during surgery. Drops will numb your eyes and keep them  moist, so you won’t need to blink.

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