Is Lasik Eye Surgery Painful?

Are you squeamish about things going near your eye? Are you worried that LASIK might be painful or uncomfortable?

Let’s walk through the different stages of LASIK and see what pain or discomfort you can expect to experience.

Remember: All patients have their own pain tolerance. You might have a unique perception of what counts as discomfort. This explains why some people can touch their eyes, whilst others can only flinch!

Pre-LASIK: The Examination

Never mind the surgery itself, some people are concerned about the eye examination that is required before any LASIK operation.

There’s little reason to be worried about your consultation.

You will be given a series of tests that are non-intrusive.

These include:

  • A standard vision test — To determine your exact prescription.
  • An eye pressure test — A small puff of air blown in to each eye.
  • Digital mapping of the eye — As simple as staring at a dot.
  • Eye salinity test — A tear sample is taken to measure salinity for dry eyes.

Your doctor will perform a rigorous visual inspection of your eyes to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for the surgery.

None of these tests are painful in any way.

Squeamish patients may find it uncomfortable to have direct contact on their eyes, but it is over quickly.

LASIK: Is the Surgery Painful?

Once you are booked in for LASIK, you may be a little nervous about the surgery itself.

This is entirely natural. There aren’t many of us who prefer to change in to hospital pyjamas for the afternoon.

There are two points to remember here:

The first point is that your doctor should give you the option to have a mild sedative before the operation.

Valium might slow you down in the immediate aftermath of LASIK, but it has a fantastic knack of taking the edge off any medical procedure.

By taking a sedative 1 hour before LASIK, you will be in a calm state as you are taken in to the operating room.

When we say sedative, we don’t mean you’ll end up slumped like a sack of potatoes on a hospital bed.

You will still be fully conscious of what is happening. However, your mind will slow down and your physical reactions to any discomfort will be effectively… blunted.

This is an excellent step for nervous patients, so remember to discuss the sedative options with your doctor beforehand.

The second point is that just before LASIK you will receive a local anaesthetic in each eye, delivered as a simple eye drop.

This is unlike any eye drop you will have previously had.

It numbs the eye completely.

Within a few minutes, the doctor will be able to touch the surface of your eye without you feeling anything more than a slight sensation of pressure; a small tickle.

Note: This won’t prevent a compulsive and natural instinct to blink if something is approaching your eye. Try to practice touching your eye in the days beforehand (with a sterilised finger). You’ll feel a lot more comfortable during the LASIK procedure.

Once the final preparations are over, does the actual procedure for LASIK hurt?

Any pain should be absolutely minimal.

You will not be able to feel the laser as it gently reshapes your retina.


  • You will be able to hear the machine; and it is quite loud
  • You may smell a gentle burning
  • Your vision may come and go in bursts of stars as the laser moves

It’s not painful.

The experience is better described as uncomfortable.

The good news is that even with discomfort during LASIK, the procedure is over quickly.

Within 30 minutes, you will be leaving the operating room with a couple of ridiculous looking cones taped to your face. Any initial pain is blunted by the painkillers that your doctor will have just given you, and the adrenaline rush of being wheeled away to a new life of *hopefully* 20/20 vision.

If you have been given Valium, or a similar sedative, it is at this point that you are likely to hit a crashing low as the adrenaline wears off.

The best thing you can do is catch some sleep.

After LASIK: What Pain Can I Expect?

The most noticeable pain after LASIK eye surgery is likely to come in the first 24 hours when your eyes are still sensitive and tender from the operation.

You may experience:

  • Dryness
  • Stickiness of the eye
  • Mild irritation
  • Mild burning

For many patients, LASIK-related pain is mild or non-existent.

There is a very small chance that you could have a complication with the procedure. This might result in additional pain or discomfort after surgery.

Remember to take your medication as prescribed, in the correct intervals. Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest.

Any pain after LASIK should disappear in the first 24 hours.

Have you had LASIK? Was it painful? Did any of the procedure hurt?

Let us know how you got on!

Leave a Reply