Does Laser Eye Surgery Hurt?

Unsurprisingly, most people have a lot of questions when it comes to Laser Eye Surgery. These questions can concern the prescription limit for treatment, what conditions could make one unsuitable and even how long recovery takes. But, by far one of the most common questions we receive at London Vision Clinic is: Does Laser Eye Surgery hurt?

This concern is probably one of the most discussed, and discouraging of all the persistent Laser Eye Surgery myths. It can even cause people to grapple for years over the decision to even arrange a consultation. This can lead many people who could have by now experienced years of glasses-free vision to resign themselves to a life behind lenses.

Don’t get us wrong – we completely understand the anxiety. Just the thought of anyone going anywhere near your eye (or anywhere else, for that matter) with a laser can be unnerving. Of course, finding out you will be awake during the procedure doesn’t really serve to help matters.

But we want to set all that aside and let you in on a secret: Laser Eye Surgery isn’t painful!

How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

If you’re reading this, you are probably aware of the aim of Laser Eye Surgery: to give patients the best chance at living glasses- and contacts-free. It can be used to correct a number of refractive errors, including short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism, and even presbyopia (ageing eyes). But how does it achieve this?

Well, we are able to harness the power of lasers to reshape the cornea. First of all, we use an ultra-precise laser to create an access route to the cornea – this can be done by removing a small section of the epithelium, creating a “corneal flap” or creating a keyhole incision, depending on the type of procedure.

Next, we use a laser to remove tissue from the corneal bed. This reshapes the cornea, changing the way light is reflected into the eye. Once completed, light will be effectively reflected to sit on the retina, correcting the refractive error.

But how can this be pain-free? Well, while you might be awake during Laser Eye Surgery, you will be given an anaesthetic. Professor Dan Reinstein explains more in the video below.

Youtube video link

About the Laser

Incisions in the surface of the eye, removing tissue… how can this possibly be painless? The fact is, the laser technology used in Laser Eye Surgery is far from the ones depicted in spy films and sci-fi movies.

These high-spec, ultra-precise lasers don’t use heat to remove tissue. They use ultraviolet (UV) energy to “disrupt chemical bonds in the cornea without causing any thermal damage to surrounding tissue.”

While this process, known as photoablative decomposition, can cause some discomfort, many patients describe this as a slight “pressure” on the eye.

Take a look at what some of our patients had to say about the procedure below:

Dani Chen (2022) – “The actual surgery was quick and painless for me personally and I didn’t experience any pain afterwards either. I only wished I did it sooner.”

Orlando Perri (2022) – “The surgery itself is very straightforward, it takes just a few minutes and it’s completely painless. My recovery has been very smooth and easy. I never had any pain or discomfort. Just a bit of eye dryness.”

Ross T (2022) – “The operation itself took a few minutes an eye and at no point have i experienced any pain whatsoever. I went back the next day for a check up and the small incision they make with the laser for SMILE had already healed over and I was able to see one line better than 20/20.”

What about after the procedure?

Following the procedure, it is normal to experience some mild discomfort and dryness for a few days to a few weeks. However, this will be monitored at your post-operative appointments and eye drops will be provided to address these issues.

So, as you can see (and as thousands of patients can attest to), there’s no need to put off Laser Eye Surgery any longer for fear of the pain. It is completely safe, pain-free, and effective with an extremely minor risk of anything going wrong. It hasn’t become the most popular elective procedure in the world for nothing.

Still not convinced? One of our friendly clinic coordinators will be happy to talk you through the process and answer any other questions you may have. Ready to take the plunge? Book a Consultation today!