Does Laser Eye Surgery Hurt?
Let’s look at whether undergoing laser eye surgery is painful
When thinking of laser eye surgery, we often conjure up thoughts and ideas of it being a potentially painful experience. Our eyes are some the most delicate parts of our body, and when we combine them with the idea of lasers, it’s understandable that we may have reservations about the concept, for fear of it being a painful, or even dangerous, experience.
However, this couldn’t be further from the actual experience. Laser eye surgery involves no needles, and there is certainly not any burning from laser beams taking place. Contrary to what we might expect, the lasers are, in fact, cold.
Some of us will think that the surgery can be risky, but that’s not the case either. Once we learn about the surgery, we begin to see that it is a safe procedure that can have incredible rewards for those who undergo the surgery.
So, how does the procedure work? Prior to the procedure taking place, the surgeon will place anaesthetic eye drops in the patient’s eye. Then, the surgeon will use a special clamp which will keep the eye open through the procedure.
Do some types of laser eye surgery hurt more than others?
There are three forms of surgery. The first is PRK. During the procedure, the surgeon will begin working on the patient’s cornea. This reshapes it, and the surgeon will the scrape off the thin layer on top of the cornea, known as the epithelium. The second is LASEK, where the surgeon will cut the epithelium prior to moving it to the side. The third, LASIK, is where the surgeon creates a flap in the cornea and lifts it to the side.
Prior to completing this, the surgeon is then able to begin working with the laser on the eye, in order to reshape the cornea.
Afterwards, if the patient has undergone PRK or LASEK surgery, the epithelium will then be replaced, and a soft contact lens will be used to keep it in place.
After LASIK, the patient will have their corneal flap put back in place, and it is normal for the patient to wear a form of eye protection on the way home. The flap will naturally reattach with the cornea, usually in just a few minutes. LASIK patients will be given eye drops to prevent their eyes from becoming overly dry.
Prior to the surgery, patients won’t feel pain as they’ll have received the necessary anaesthetic drops in their eye. The anaesthetics’ affects will be working by the time their eye is clamped open. Although the idea of having an eye clamped open may seem intimidating and quite daunting, it shouldn’t be. If you’re really struggling to relax at this stage, a surgeon may offer a mild sedative to help you deal with any anxieties.
During the procedure, there is usually little to no pain felt whatsoever. As the anaesthetic will be working, the eye will be entirely numb. Sometimes, patients mention that a slight pressure is felt, but no sharp or unbearable pains can be felt. As the treatment takes less than a minute, any discomfort would last long.
After surgery, there has been a mixed report from patients who have undergone laser eye surgery. Whilst some patients have reported feeling a mild stinging sensation after PRK and LASEK procedures, the pain is usually short-lived.
LASIK patients, however, report almost no symptoms of pain or discomfort. Occasionally, a patient may experience dryness, or at worst, a mild stinging sensation.
As we have learned, laser eye surgery doesn’t usually hurt, and the small side effects can be just a small price to pay for what can be a life changing experience which can bring untold benefits. If you have any fears, reservations or anxieties, then the best person to speak to will be your surgeon. As professionals who will have carried out the procedure countless times, and spoken with people sharing the same worries as yourself, they’ll be able to reassure you. The more you learn about laser eye surgery, the more you’ll be able to prepare yourself for the procedure.