What does laser eye surgery feel like?

If you’re considering having laser eye surgery, it’s only natural to feel apprehensive about what the surgery itself will involve. What does laser eye surgery feel like? Does it hurt? These concerns can stop people from getting the treatment that will change their lives for the better. To put your mind at ease, we will talk you through what to expect below.

Does laser eye surgery hurt?

Before your laser eye surgery is carried out, your surgeon will apply local anaesthetic eye drops to your eyes to make sure you feel no pain through the procedure. The effects of the eye drops will usually wear off around 20-30 minutes after the treatment, after which you may feel some itching or discomfort. It’s extremely important not to rub your eyes during this period, no matter how itchy they may feel, as your cornea will still be healing at this point.
You may find that your eyes feel dry or uncomfortable for a while following surgery, but this will lessen as your eyes heal. Your surgeon will be able to provide you with eye drops to help your eyes feel more comfortable. To find out more from real patients, take a look at our laser eye surgery reviews, or read on below to learn more about what each type of surgery feels like.


LASIK is the best known and most popular type of laser eye surgery. The procedure is completely blade-free and you won’t need stitches. During the procedure itself, you won’t feel any pain, thanks to the anaesthetic eye drops applied beforehand. The most you should experience during the procedure is mild discomfort, which some patients describe as an ‘awkward’ sensation. This occurs during the start of the surgery, when the flap is lifted. After this, during the reshaping of the corneal tissue and the correction of the refractive error, most people remark that they don’t actually feel a thing.
Here’s what you can expect from the procedure:
  • The process will begin with the surgeon applying local anaesthetic eye drops to both eyes, ensuring that you’ll feel no pain during the process.
  • After this, the surgeon uses a femtosecond laser to create a flap.
  • The flap is gently lifted, which is the only time you may feel slight discomfort.
  • The surgeon then applies an Excimer laser in order to correct the refractive error by reshaping the corneal tissue.
  • The surgeon then gently replaces the flap, and then aligns it back into the original position.
  • You won’t need any stitches, as the flap will heal naturally.  


LASEK eye surgery makes a great alternative treatment for patients who aren’t able to have LASIK surgery, and it has its own benefits. For example, since no flap is created in this type of surgery, there is a lower risk of flap complications, and there’s also less chance of you experiencing dry eyes.
As with LASIK, you won’t feel any pain during the surgery itself because of the anaesthetic. However, the recovery process for LASEK is usually slightly longer than with LASIK. Your vision may improve over around a week following surgery, compared with around 24 hours for LASIK.
Here’s what to expect during the LASEK procedure:
  • The ophthalmic surgeon will apply a local anaesthetic to both eyes, to minimise any potential discomfort.
  • After this, a solution of mild ethanol is applied to the protective outer layer of the cornea. This will generate a thin epithelial layer, which is then moved to one side by the surgeon.
  • The surgeon corrects the refractive error by applying an Excimer laser to the eye.
  • Clear, soft contact lenses, known as bandage lenses, are applied. You may need to wear these for up to a week.


At Optegra, we also offer ReLEx® SMILE laser eye surgery. This procedure is popular because it is bladeless, minimally invasive, more people are suitable for it, and the recovery time is quick.
This treatment works as follows:
  • Your ophthalmic surgeon will apply numbing eye drops before the procedure begins.
  • Using a state-of-the-art Carl Zeiss VisuMax laser, your surgeon will outline to tissue to be removed to alter the cornea’s shape.
  • The surgeon will then use the laser to creates a small tunnel, through which they can draw out the tissue to correct the refractive error. 

It’s understandable that you may be feeling concerned about what laser eye surgery will feel like. However, there really is nothing to worry about, especially when you choose a high-quality eye care provider such as Optegra. It is our mission to ensure you feel as comfortable and as relaxed as possible, both during and after your surgery. To find out more about whether laser eye surgery could be for you, book a free consultation to speak to one of our ophthalmic surgeons.

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