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Does Laser Eye Surgery Hurt?

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A woman undergoing laser eye surgery to correct her vision.

If you have myopia or hyperopia, you’ve likely needed glasses or contacts for most of your life. Imagine if there were a more permanent fix, a way you could see clearly without vision correction. It exists in the form of laser surgery, a wonderful approach to giving you a permanent solution to many different vision problems. Does laser eye surgery hurt?

Before the procedure, your surgeon will apply anesthetic eye drops so you don’t feel pain. During the procedure, you’ll likely experience temporary discomfort or pressure in the eye. After the procedure, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s recommendations for recovery so you can lower your risk of post-surgery discomfort.

The Basics of Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery, also often called corrective surgery, is a modern, innovative approach to permanently fixing conditions like myopia or hyperopia. During this surgery, an experienced surgeon uses laser technology to reshape the cornea—the outermost lens of the eye—so it can properly refract light.

When the surgery is complete, your eye will bend light effectively and efficiently, and you’ll no longer need glasses or contact lenses. This procedure is extremely safe, and it’s believed to be performed nearly 100,000 times per year in Canada alone.

There are three common types of laser eye surgery:

The main difference between LASIK and PRK is in how the surgeon accesses the cornea. With LASIK, the surgeon creates a flap in the cornea to access the underlying tissue. With SMILE, a smaller incision is made. With PRK, the surgeon removes this outer layer completely.

What to Expect from Laser Eye Surgery

If you’re considering laser surgery to fix your vision, it’s important to know what to expect. There will be three major steps outlined ahead: what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. Understanding the process can help reduce any concerns or feelings of anxiety you may be experiencing.

Before the Surgery

Before taking any step toward laser surgery, you’ll need to book a laser eye surgery consultation with your optometrist. During this appointment, an eye care professional will perform a thorough examination of your eye. They’ll check:

  • Your current vision and prescription to determine the degree of correction needed.
  • The shape and thickness of your cornea to ensure it can withstand the reshaping process.
  • Your overall eye health, checking for signs of infection, inflammation, or any other conditions that may affect the surgery’s outcome.

After your exam, they’ll answer any questions or concerns you have so you can be fully prepared for the surgery itself.

During the LASIK Procedure


  1. To ensure your comfort, numbing eye drops are applied to prevent any discomfort during the procedure.
  2. A gentle device is used to keep your eye still and in the correct position throughout the surgery.
  3. The surgeon carefully creates a thin flap in the cornea using precise laser technology to access the underlying corneal tissue.
  4. With the flap created, the surgeon utilizes a specialized laser to reshape the cornea for vision correction.
  5. After the corneal reshaping is complete, the surgeon repositions the corneal flap, which naturally adheres to the underlying cornea to heal.


  1. As with LASIK, numbing drops ensure a pain-free experience
  2. A gentle device is used to keep your eye still and in the correct position throughout the surgery.
  3. The laser will sculpt a disc-shaped piece of the cornea 
  4. The laser will then make a small incision in the cornea giving access to the disc-shaped piece 
  5. The disc-shape (also called a lenticule) is removed through the incision and this is what corrects the vision.

During the PRK Procedure

For PRK:

  1. As with LASIK, numbing drops ensure a pain-free experience.
  2. Your eye will be stabilized with a device to ensure accuracy during the procedure.
  3. The surgeon removes the outer layer of the cornea to access the area for reshaping.
  4. Using a laser, the surgeon corrects the corneal shape for improved vision.
  5. After PRK, a soft contact lens is placed on the eye to aid in healing and comfort.

In either case, the actual laser application usually lasts less than a minute, and the entire surgery is completed within 30 minutes. You may experience mild discomfort or pressure, and maybe mild pain with PRK. If at any point you notice severe pain, notify your surgeon immediately.

A woman applying eyedrops on her left eye as a part of her laser surgery aftercare.

After the Surgery

Once the surgery is complete, it’s absolutely crucial to follow all recommendations your surgeon provides. You’ll likely rest for a short period before being allowed to go home, and because you won’t be able to drive for a few days, make sure you’ve arranged transportation.

Your surgeon will likely recommend:

  • Using prescribed eye drops to prevent infection and inflammation and to keep your eyes moist.
  • Wearing protective eyewear to shield your eyes from bright lights and to prevent rubbing or pressure while sleeping.
  • Avoiding strenuous activities, swimming, or using eye makeup for at least a week post-surgery.

It’s normal to experience some mild discomfort or grittiness in your eyes as they heal. However, it isn’t common to experience any significant pain. If you notice any significant pain or vision abnormalities, reach out to your optometrist or surgeon immediately to discuss solutions.

Don’t forget to regularly schedule visits with your optometrist as well. They’ll be able to monitor your recovery and give you up-to-date advice on reducing the risk of post-surgery complications. You’ll likely notice improvements to your vision within 48 hours, with your vision continuing to stabilize over the next few weeks.

Schedule Your Laser Eye Surgery Consultation

If you’re ready to explore the world without glasses or contacts, a laser eye surgery consultation is your first step. Reach out to our team here at Foresee Eyecare! We can help determine whether or not laser eye surgery could work for you. The path to clear vision could be easier than you think, so book your laser eye surgery consultation with us today.

Written by
Dr. Shani Avraham

More Articles By
Dr. Shani Avraham

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