There are various stages in the laser eye surgery process, each of which produces different types of sensation. Whilst the procedure itself is pain-free, certain aspects may cause a little discomfort and any negative sensation is likely to be magnified by the patient’s own nervousness.
Based on the descriptions given by people who have undergone the process, the stages of laser eye surgery feel like this:
- Once seated in the operating chair (very similar to a dentist’s chair) anaesthetic eye drops will be applied. Some patients may feel a mild stinging sensation as a result.
- Next, a clear plastic speculum will be placed over your eye and your eyelids will be clamped open to prevent you from blinking during the operation. Most patients feel that whilst this is not exactly painful it is probably the least comfortable part of the procedure.
- If you are having LASIK or LASEK laser eye surgery the next stage of the process is to create and fold back a flap in the cornea being operated upon. Most patients describe a sensation of painless pressure in the eye during this part of the process.
- Once the cornea has been prepared you will be asked to stare fixedly at a bright red dot in the laser apparatus. The laser will make a repeated clicking/cracking sound as it fires and the tissue it vapourises may emit an ozone-like smell . Whilst patients describe this smell as unpleasant it is perfectly normal. The laser will typically fire for between 15 and 40 seconds depending on the nature of vision correction required, but this aspect of the procedure is widely regarded as utterly painless.
Following application of the laser, the surgeon will re-site the corneal flap, apply antiseptic eye drops and may place an eye patch over the eye for initial protection.