How is Laser Eye Surgery Performed? Here's an Answer in Simple Terms

Laser eye surgery can get quite complicated at times. The different types and the various medical terms can sometimes be difficult to digest upon first read, so we’ve stripped it back and put it into layman’s terms so that it’s easy for you to understand.

So, how is laser eye surgery performed?


We’ll cover:

  • The Laser Eye Surgery Procedure
  • What is LASIK?
  • What is LASEK?
  • What are the Main Differences Between the Two?

The Laser Eye Surgery Procedure


Before your treatment starts, your surgeon will administer anaesthetic to your eyes. They work in only a few seconds, so no waiting for it go numb, like at the dentist. This will be in the form of drops, so there’s nothing to worry about if you’re funny with needles. This is to numb your eye area so that you don’t feel anything and you’re comfortable during your procedure.

After a very short while, the drops will take effect and the area will become numb. We can guarantee that once the anaesthetic kicks in, you won’t experience any significant pain.

Your surgeon will then hold open your eyelids to keep them apart during your treatment. This is done with a small so-called speculum. The lid-holding process poses a worry to a lot of patients, but we can reassure you that it’s absolutely nothing to get worked up over. This isn’t as harsh as it sounds.

This step has to be in place as your eyelids will naturally relax with the anaesthetic and have a tendency to shut. If this happened mid-treatment, it could obviously lead to difficulties for the surgeon.

Using a speculum is for the benefit of a more successful process and you wouldn’t want anything to potentially stand in the way of getting the vision you’ve always wanted, would you?

Just relax and if needed your surgeon will be happy to provide a stronger anaesthetic. Once the anaesthetic has set in and the speculum is in place the procedure can then start.

During the Surgery

Having lasers pointed at your eyeballs isn’t exactly the most comforting image, is it? Well, you’ll be relieved to know that with a very experienced surgeon who has done thousands of treatments, the procedure is actually painless and safe. There’s nothing to worry about at all, but feeling some anxiety is quite normal.

Whilst there’s no pain involved, few people report feeling mild discomfort at some stages of the surgery. This is typically due to the firm pressure of the laser that’s being applied during corneal flap creation. This part of the procedure only lasts 30 seconds so any discomfort (should may feel some) shouldn’t last long at all.

And, remember, a few moments of discomfort is worth the years of improved vision afterwards.

Post-Surgery Recovery

Eye drops are provided post-treatment to keep your eyes nicely hydrated and in good health. You’ll also be provided with plastic shields to place over your eyes to protect them whilst they heal.

The healing process is rapid and recovery times are minimal too, however, you must protect your eyes as they’ll be very fragile and need to stay clean.

You may feel some slight discomfort during the recovery stage, but it’s nothing major. You will receive anaesthetic drops in your take-home pack, so please use them as needed in the first 3-4 hours if they feel uncomfortable.

A stinging sensation and dry eyes are the usual post-treatment symptoms, but they’re completely normal. The duration of these symptoms is minimal too as the recovery is so quick.

What is LASIK?

LASIK surgery has successfully helped to improve the vision of millions of people around the world. It was introduced over 25 years and has regularly been performed ever since.

LASIK can be used to treat various different eye problems including farsightedness, short-sightedness and astigmatism, as well as the need for reading glasses.

During the LASIK procedure, your surgeon will first use a femtosecond laser to create a thin flap on your cornea. This flap will then be lifted and the second laser will be introduced.

The second excimer laser is the one that corrects your vision by emitting pulses in order to reshape the corneal tissue underneath. After the tissue’s been reshaped, the flap will be folded back into place.

Your newly reshaped cornea can now create clear vision by correctly focusing light onto the retina inside the eye.

The Benefits of LASIK

There are various benefits to undergoing LASIK eye surgery. These are:

  • The procedure is painless.
  • Results can be seen as little as one to four hours after having the treatment, often immediately afterwards for higher prescriptions.
  • No stitches are required after your treatment.
  • You no longer have to keep updating glasses frames and prescriptions, saving money in the long run.
  • Permanent results for short-sight and astigmatism.

What is LASEK?

Used in approximately 5 to 10 percent of cases, LASEK treatments are far less popular than LASIK procedures. This is because if a patient isn’t eligible to have LASIK treatment, only then are they referred for LASEK.

The other name for LASEK surgery is PRK. The two names can be used interchangeably. You may also hear this approach referred to as surface ablation, or surface treatment.

The LASEK/PRKprocedure also reshapes your cornea and corrects any focus abnormalities you may have, and the results are identical to LASIK.

LASEK eye treatments are known for having a longer and more painful recovery than LASIK treatments. This is also why they’re less popular. The recovery time should take between four to seven days, which is still a short enough time to sacrifice for that all-important clear vision.

Surface skin cells are removed in order to expose the surface underneath. After the laser application, the skin is left to heal for the next few days.

You’ll start to see improvements in your vision after three to five days. The pain should wear off three days after your treatment. LASEK treatment is usually chosen for patients with typically thinner corneas.

The Benefits of LASEK

As with LASIK, there are also various benefits to having LASEK eye treatment:

  • Allows people with thinner corneas the opportunity to have their vision corrected.
  • If you have severe short-sightedness, LASEK may be preferable. Alternatively, intraocular contact lenses (ICLs) may be offered
  • More suitable for those who engage in contact sports.

What are the Main Differences Between the Two?

So, what’s the difference between LASIK and LASEK?

Well, the main difference is during the procedure. The two open your cornea in different ways in order to allow access for the laser. You can’t control which method you’ll be referred to as it’s often judged on the thickness of your corneas.

Different types of treatment suit different people, but it’s great that there is a range of options for people to have their eyes treated.

Recovery times are another main difference between the two treatments. After LASIK treatment, patients can see results just one to four hours after having the treatment. Whereas, with LASEK treatment the recovery time is anywhere between four and seven days and results can be seen usually three days after surgery. It’s certainly not as instantaneous and LASEK treatment is regarded to be more painful than LASIK, a comfortable procedure.

How Can Focus Clinic Help?

With Focus Clinic, you undoubtedly get the best there is. We’re the only clinic in the country with a 100 percent success rate. This is why we’re the UK’s most trusted laser eye surgery clinic.

Download our free information pack below. It’s filled with everything you need to know about how procedures work, the benefits and potential side effects and much more. Or if you have any simple queries, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be sure to advise you accordingly.

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