How Does LASIK Eye Surgery Feel?

LASIK eye surgery is a surgery performed while you’re awake, similar to a cavity filling. One of the most common questions people ask is, “How does LASIK eye surgery feel?” The short answer is “A little awkward, but otherwise not like much.”

First steps of LASIK eye surgery

Before your LASIK eye surgery, your provider will administer eye drops. These feel like any other eye drops, but they have a local anesthetic that numbs your eyes within a few moments. When you blink, the numbing agent distributes across your eyes, much like windshield wiper fluid. The effect is that your eye becomes numb, and you’ll feel no pain during the procedure.

Holding your eye open

Once you lie down in the laser suite, the numbing eye drops will have taken effect, though your doctor may administer more. Your eyelids aren’t numb, so you may feel your doctor use an instrument to hold your eye open. This instrument looks like a speculum and can take a minute or so to adjust to. If you hold your eye open with two clean fingers, as if you’re putting in a contact lens, you can feel how your eyes adjust to reduced blinking. This is similar to how you’ll feel during LASIK eye surgery.

Will I feel the actual surgery?

There are two main parts to LASIK eye surgery: creating the flap and reshaping the cornea. To create the flap, your doctor will use a suction device. Some patients describe a feeling of pressure or discomfort during this suction, which contributes to the “awkward feeling” some patients describe. This is typically the least comfortable part of the procedure. Patients do not notice any sensation during the excimer or reshaping part of the procedure. You will be asked to look at a light while the laser is treating, but there won’t be any sensation of the treatment.

How does LASIK eye surgery feel afterward?

After LASIK surgery, most doctors recommend you rest your eyes as frequently as possible for about a day. In the few hours right after surgery, it’s common to feel some burning, tearing or discomfort. Your eyes have begun the healing process. Similar to how a scab itches when it’s healing and how a cough develops when you’re clearing out a head cold, there’s some irritation during the very first few hours of healing. This irritation goes away as the eyes heal.