It’s one of the biggest concerns people have before scheduling an appointment for refractive surgery: will it hurt?
It’s easy to understand why. The process of laser eye surgeries like LASIK and PRK aren’t widely understood and people may wonder what the experience will be like before they make the commitment. At Tylock-George Eye Care and Laser Center, we frequently answer questions like this one for patients exploring their options for Dallas LASIK and PRK. Allow us to put your mind at ease:
Local numbing agents are applied prior to surgery so that the only feeling you should experience during the procedure is a sensation of slight pressure. During recovery, you may experience some irritation in the form of mild soreness or symptoms related to dry eyes.
The experienced laser surgeons at Tylock-George can help you manage any discomfort that may arise during recovery, both immediately and in the future.
Here, we’ll help you understand the difference between LASIK and PRK, which one may be right for you, and what you may experience before, during, or after the process of laser vision correction.
What’s the Difference Between LASIK and PRK?
LASIK and PRK are both laser eye surgeries that effectively reshape the cornea — the outer surface of the eye — using a laser to improve vision.
The primary difference between LASIK and PRK is how each surgery handles the removal of a section of the cornea during the procedure:
- In LASIK, a “corneal flap” is precisely created by a laser and moved so that the excimer laser can access the underlying tissue. This flap is put back into place at the end of the LASIK procedure.
- In PRK, there is no corneal flap. Instead, the top layer of corneal tissue is removed, exposing the underlying tissue. This tissue will grow back shortly following the procedure.
This minor difference in the process of the two surgeries lead to a slight difference in what you’ll experience during and after LASIK and PRK. We’ll discuss some of the factors at play and the ways in which they affect the sensations experienced during both of these procedures.
Will I Be Awake During LASIK and PRK?
Yes. Both LASIK and PRK are typically done with patients being awake throughout. There are a few reasons for this, most notably that sedation is just not necessary. The process of laser eye surgery typically takes 10 minutes on average, and general anesthesia would only add an expense to the procedure without providing any additional benefit.
Still, being awake during LASIK or PRK is a source of anxiety for many patients. Your doctor will use a local anesthesia and sometimes a sedative can help you relax in preparation for the procedure itself. At Tylock-George, we address the needs of every patient on an individualized basis so that your experience is not only effective, but comfortable as well.
Additionally, the technology we use at Tylock-George is so advanced that the eye tracking system will automatically stop the laser if movement is detected during the vision correction process.
What Happens If I Blink?
This is another concern that’s extremely common for patients to express before laser surgery: what happens if I move or blink during the procedure?
Part of the reason for the local anesthetic (numbing agent) during laser surgery is to suppress the urge to blink or move your face. Your facial muscles will be very relaxed during surgery, and your eyes are held open by another device while the laser is being operated.
What to Expect During LASIK and PRK
If you’re considering LASIK or PRK, understanding the process from start to finish is important, but first, let’s get the most important questions out of the way: do LASIK or PRK hurt?
Does LASIK Hurt?
Most patients express how easy and pain free the process is. LASIK is one of the safest and most effective procedures on the market today, and as a result, it’s extremely common. More and more people every year are making the decision to have this life-changing refractive surgery and getting to enjoy the benefits of clearer vision (plus, freedom from corrective eyewear). Dr. George employs the most highly recommended anesthetic protocol to minimize any associated discomfort.
Does PRK Hurt?
While PRK is less common than LASIK, it’s also rated highly for safety and effectiveness and most patients report a very similar experience as LASIK. The benefits of PRK are the same as those of LASIK and far outweighs the low risk of complications. While every surgical procedure has some associated discomfort during the healing process, the surgery itself is often described as very comfortable.
Preparing for Laser Surgery
The process of evaluating your candidacy for LASIK may involve a lot of unfamiliar machines, but there’s nothing that should cause you any pain. In this stage, your surgeon will examine the exterior (topography) and inside (tomography) of your eyes, getting measurements for factors like corneal thickness and examining for any reasons why you may not be an ideal candidate for laser refractive surgery.
To be a good candidate for LASIK and PRK, you must:
- Have a stable vision prescription
- Be diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism
- Be at least 18 years old
Most people who meet those qualifications are cleared to have LASIK. PRK is only done in a few cases, including:
- When the patient has a lower corneal thickness
- When the patient’s vision prescription is too high for LASIK
- Occupational/Lifestyle requirements
- At the patient’s request
The Refractive Surgery Procedure
We are often told in our patient reviews that the actual surgery is surprisingly quick and painless. During either, you may feel some mild pressure and a cool sensation, but almost everyone who has laser eye surgery is shocked by the difference between what they expected and what they experienced.
Recovery from LASIK and PRK
Recovery is where LASIK and PRK differ more from one another. With LASIK, recovery is quicker and more comfortable than PRK, simply because LASIK doesn’t need to allow time for corneal tissue to regrow.
With both procedures, recovery varies between different patients. After refractive surgery, you may experience the feeling like there’s something in your eye, or a mild itchy or burning sensation. These side effects are less painful than they are uncomfortable, and they typically pass in a few days.
One side effect of LASIK and PRK is experiencing dry eye syndrome of varying severity after the procedure. Talk to your doctor about managing these symptoms should they occur.
Because PRK involves the removal of tissue, the recovery can be a bit longer, accompanied by greater potential discomfort. We offer the option of a prescription pain medication, although some patients do not take them and use nothing more than over-the-counter pain meds.
Is LASIK or PRK Right for You?
As mentioned, the difference between a candidate for LASIK and PRK depends on a few small factors, but both have the potential to greatly improve your vision in a safe, effective, and typically, virtually painless way. Explore your options by contacting Tylock-George Eye Care & Laser Center today!