Does LASIK Hurt?
Immediately prior to your LASIK surgery, eye drops will be applied to your eyes to thoroughly numb them throughout the procedure.
During the first step of LASIK — the creation of the protective corneal flap with a laser or an instrument called a microkeratome — you will likely feel some pressure on your eye. But typically this is not painful, and the sensation lasts less than a minute. Parts of the LASIK procedure may feel unusual, but many patients find it is quicker and more comfortable than they thought it was going to be.
When you return home from your LASIK surgery and the anesthesia (numbing) eye drops wear off, it's common to experience sensitivity to light, watery eyes, and mild to moderate eye discomfort for a few hours. Generally, if this is bothersome, over-the-counter pain medications will ease the discomfort.
(Many people find that if they take a nap when they return home from LASIK surgery, they have little or no eye pain afterwards.)
If you experience significant eye pain after LASIK surgery — especially if over-the-counter pain medicine is ineffective at managing it — call your LASIK surgeon for advice.
Some LASIK surgeons may routinely give their patients a prescription for pain medicine when they leave the laser center in case they need it later to manage short-term eye discomfort after surgery. But most patients find that if they experience eye discomfort after LASIK, it usually is relatively mild and resolves within several hours without medication.
About the Author: Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, a leading researcher in technologies for laser and implant vision correction and a member of All About Vision's editorial advisory board.
Page updated March 2018