There are really two main categories of corneal laser eye surgery for vision correction-lamellar corneal laser eye surgery and surface corneal laser eye surgery. Surface corneal laser eye surgery includes procedures such as PRK, Epi-LASIK and LASEK. Lameller corneal laser eye surgery includes LASIK surgery and Bladeless or Blade Free All Laser LASIK such as i-LASIK and Z-LASIK with the femtosecond laser.
In performing surface corneal laser eye surgery it is necessary to remove the outermost layer of corneal cells called the epithelium in order to apply the laser to the surface of the eye. Removal of the epithelium exposes the sensitive corneal nerves and can create moderate and even severe discomfort and pain in some patients. Patients having surface corneal laser eye surgery typically have a thin “bandage” contact lens inserted in their eye for the first few days after their laser treatment in order to make them more comfortable and help the eye heal. Sometimes it is necessary to give them oral pain medications.
This is rarely the case with lamellar corneal laser eye surgery such as LASIK or Blade Free LASIK such as i-LASIK and Z-LASIK. Because lamellar procedures do not require the removal of the epithelium, there is very little discomfort and no bandage lens is necessary. Most often patients do feel some sandy or grainy sensation or a mild “sticking” but not really pain. This sensation usually passes in a day or so after the eye surgery procedure.