Does laser eye surgery hurt?

Laser eye surgery is essentially a painless procedure. When I see patients, all of them are nervous before laser eye surgery and that’s normal. I reassure everybody that it’s normal to be nervous if you are about to have an eye operation or any operation whatsoever.

And then, when you are in the laser room, the whole procedure takes about 15 minutes. But that includes making sure that you are comfortable, getting you in a good position and laying flat. The actual application of the laser for short-sighted treatment is about 1 and a half seconds per diopter treatment. So it’s very quick, the application of the laser treatment. The eyes are numbed, completely numbed with drops and solutions. So you don’t feel anything. You don’t see anything. You just see lots of shadows and light. So it’s not distressing from that point of view. You don’t see anything coming towards you. And one eye is treated, I typically treat the right eye first, and then the left eye.

So the eye is prepared and cleaned and then I use a small drape to keep the lashes out of the way and put a little blink-stopper in because patients often worry that they are going to blink during the procedure. But you can’t blink; we control the blinking.

Another thing that patients often are worry about is that if they move their eyes it’s going to affect the treatment. This, of course, isn’t the case because the laser follows you. Modern lasers are very clever, and some of the faster lasers will follow you 400 times a second. And they follow you, not only in one dimension, but they’ll follow you up and down and they’ll follow you sideways and rotating. So if you make flicky eye movements it doesn’t matter. And if you make a huge movement, which people don’t do, then the laser will cut out. So I think that will ease people’s fears when they realise that if they are not perfectly still it does not matter.

More about Robert Morris

Rob Morris is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at The Grange Eye Consultants. His special expertise is in cataract and refractive surgery, including Refractive Lens Exchange, and adult squint. He has over 30 years experience in treating people with eye problems. Rob Morris founded Grange Eye Consultants to manage the increasing demand for more complex refractive surgery. He leads clinical trials investigating novel eye treatments. He is currently Medical Director at Optegra Eye Hospitals.