LASIK is by far the most prevalent and safest refractive surgery procedure. It has been employed to treat a host of visual anomalies. Since it’s a surgery, people often harbor a false belief that LASIK is a painful procedure. In fact, LASIK is a relatively painless technique, and what the patient experiences during and after the surgery can be categorized as mild discomfort rather than pain.
LASIK is performed with the patient awake and mobile, and this certainly corroborates that the operation is relatively painless. The surgeon typically administers a mild sedative (for instance Valium) and anesthetic eye drops. LASIK involves creation of a flap of corneal tissue. This hinged flap may be created with a microkeratome (a surgical blade) or a femtosecond laser. During this initial step of flap formation, the patient may experience a little bit of pressure on the eye.
In the following step, the flap is folded back to reveal the middle section of the cornea, in order to make way for precise ablation by the excimer laser. Then the flap is repositioned to allow natural healing. Upon completion of the surgery, the patient may experience discomfort, scratchiness and irritation, akin to the sensation of wearing an uncomfortable contact lens. Such irritable sensation can be soothed with the aid of eye drops, and it normally wears off within a few hours after surgery.
Since the laser ablation is performed the middle section of the cornea and under the LASIK flap, the cornea does not register the fact that it has been surgically operated. As the wound response is subdued, the patient experiences speedy visual recovery and almost no pain.
However, as with any surgery, LASIK has associated complications that may force the patient to bear greater discomfort after surgery. A few of such nagging complications include dry eyes, visual acuity fluctuation, halos or starbursts around light sources at night, double vision, light sensitivity, and several flap related problems.
All in all, LASIK is a safe and efficacious procedure, which is virtually painless. Though the patient may experience mild discomfort due to potential complications, the complication rate itself is quite meager. If presented with the question of whether LASIK hurts or not, I would certainly say that it’s a painless procedure.
Finding a LASIK surgeon that you are confident about will be able to give you more information about laser eye surgery.