How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Take?

How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Take?

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Laser eye surgery has revolutionised the field of vision correction, offering a safe and effective solution for those seeking visual freedom.

However, if you’ve been considering this transformative procedure, you may wonder how long the treatment takes.

How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Take?

It’s a common misconception that laser eye surgery takes a long time.

On the day of your procedure, your appointment will last about two hours, but the laser aspect of laser eye surgery only takes 10 minutes (a few minutes per eye).

The rest of the time, your surgeon carries out over 100 checks, ensuring 100% accuracy for your surgery. If any of these pre-surgery checks are not performed with 100% accuracy, your surgery may not be successful, and you may require re-treatment.

While it may sound quick, this timeframe only represents the actual surgical procedure and does not include preparations and post-surgery recovery.

The timeline from enquiring to being treated can range anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on the individual, if any eye health improvements are needed, especially treating dry eyes, the availability of the surgeons, and many other factors.

The Full Laser Eye Surgery Process

Laser eye surgery procedures involve several key stages that ensure precise vision correction.

At Focus, we can quickly learn if you are a good candidate for refractive surgery with a simple 10-minute telephone call to discuss your current prescription, overall health, and any eye conditions you may have.

If there are no clear reasons why you may not be suitable for laser eye surgery, the next step would be an in-depth consultation with one of our expert clinicians.

Pre-Surgery Preparations

During your consultation, you’ll meet our clinic coordinator before being escorted to the scanning room by one of our technicians.

Here, we’ll take precise measurements of your eyes, which are then analysed by our computer to provide an incredibly detailed and accurate map of each of your eyes.

Our patient advisors will walk you through the consultation process, discussing your test results and medical history to determine which procedure best fits you.

If you choose to go ahead with treatment, they’ll also be able to discuss our finance options and schedule you for a pre-op consultation and the surgery itself.

Want To Find Out If You’re Suitable?

If you’re wondering whether laser eye treatment is the right choice for you, there are some key things to consider…

Pre-Op Consultation

At the pre-op consultation, typically a few days before your surgery, we’ll conduct some final checks to confirm you still have a stable prescription and ensure you’re still a good fit for treatment.

This is also an excellent opportunity to discuss any last-minute questions about your procedure with the surgeon or clinic team.

In the days leading up to the surgery, you may be required to discontinue contact lenses as they can temporarily alter the shape of your cornea.

Certain medications may need to be adjusted as well. Adhering to these pre-surgery instructions will help optimise the outcome of the procedure.

On Surgery Day

On the day of your laser eye surgery, the surgeon will perform some final checks, review the latest scans, and re-measure your prescription to ensure it’s correct.

Once everything’s ready, one of our technicians will take you to the laser suite. They’ll run through how to use your post-surgery eye drops and the list of do’s and don’ts, but don’t worry – all of this is written down for you to take home.

During the surgery, you’ll lie on a comfortable bed while local anaesthetic eye drops are administered to ensure a pain-free experience.

The surgeon will then create a corneal flap (in LASIK surgery) or remove the epithelial layer (in PRK) to access the cornea before a specialised laser is used to reshape the cornea and correct your refractive errors.

The corneal flap is then repositioned, or the epithelial layer regenerates, creating a protective covering for the treated area.

In lenticule extraction (SILK, CLEAR, SMILE), a femtosecond laser dissects a disc of tissue, which the surgeon removes through a small opening in the cornea.

The entire process takes around ten minutes, and your surgeon will speak to you throughout the procedure to make sure you’re comfortable and explain what is happening.

Some people have said they preferred their laser eye surgery to a visit to the dentist!

After The Procedure

Immediately after the procedure, you will spend half an hour in our patient recovery room or the patient lounge, where you can relax, drink tea and eat biscuits while your eyes adjust after surgery.

Most patients will have improved vision straight after surgery. With LASIK, it typically takes 4 to 24 hours to achieve 20/20 vision. Recovery from PRK takes several days, while lenticule extraction takes 1-7 days for 20/20 vision.

Recovery and Post-Surgery Care

After laser eye surgery, you will experience some initial discomfort, blurred vision and vision fluctuations.

Recovery time varies from person to person, but most individuals experience significant improvement in their vision within the first few days following the surgery.

During the recovery period, following the post-operative care instructions provided by your surgeon is crucial.

This includes using the prescribed drops, wearing eye shields while you sleep, and avoiding activities like swimming or strenuous contact sports.

Our aftercare program ensures you have regular follow-up appointments to monitor your progress during the first 6-12 months.

Potential Risks and Complications

While laser eye surgery has a high success rate, it is essential to be aware of potential risks and complications.

Some individuals may experience temporary dryness, glare, halos, or light sensitivity after the procedure.

Rarely, there may be more serious complications, such as infection, corneal scarring, or under or overcorrection of vision.

However, advancements in technology and the expertise of surgeons have significantly minimised these risks.

By choosing an experienced and reputable surgeon, following pre- and post-operative instructions diligently, and attending regular follow-up appointments, you can further reduce the likelihood of complications.

At Focus, we’re proud of our 100% 20/20 vision success rate for all common short-sight prescriptions.

In addition to this, we offer a 10-year guarantee. In the rare circumstance that you require re-treatment after your short-sighted laser correction in the first ten years post-treatment, the cost of the repeat surgery is free! (Not applicable for long-sight, reading glasses or age-related conditions.)


Laser eye surgery offers a life-changing opportunity for individuals seeking freedom from glasses or contact lenses.

While the actual surgical procedure typically takes around five minutes per eye, the entire process will take several months, from enquiring to being fully healed.

Understanding the intricacies of laser eye surgery, adhering to pre-surgery preparations, and following post-surgery care instructions will optimise your chances of a successful outcome.

If you’re considering laser eye surgery, book your free telephone consultation to discuss whether you’re a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery, explore your treatment options, and clarify any concerns you may have on your journey towards clear, unaided vision.


Does Laser Eye Surgery Hurt?

Laser eye surgery is performed using a local anaesthetic, which numbs the eye and reduces pain during the procedure. While some patients may experience mild discomfort or a sensation of pressure, the surgery is generally not considered painful.

How Long Does LASIK Surgery Take?

LASIK surgery typically takes around five minutes per eye, and both eyes are usually treated on the same day. The actual procedure is relatively quick, but you should plan to spend a few hours at the clinic for pre-operative preparations and post-operative assessments.

How Long Does It Take To Make A Full Recovery From Laser Eye Surgery?

The recovery time for laser eye surgery varies from person to person. Still, most individuals experience significant improvement in their vision within a few hours to a week after the procedure, depending on if you elect to have LASIK, PRK or lenticule extraction (SILK, SMILE, etc. 

However, it may take a few weeks to three months for most eyes to stabilise fully and achieve the best possible results.

What Activities Should I Avoid After Laser Eye Surgery?

After laser eye surgery, you must avoid swimming, hot tubs, and contact sports for a few weeks to minimise the risk of eye infection or injury. It is also recommended to avoid rubbing your eyes vigorously and wearing eye makeup during the initial recovery period. Your surgeon will discuss these timeframes before your treatment.

Can I Drive After Laser Eye Surgery?

No, you will not be allowed to drive after laser eye surgery until your surgeon has confirmed your vision is suitable for driving in a follow-up appointment – typically 24-48 hours after LASIK or lenticule extraction (SILK, SMILE) treatment and 5-7 days after PRK. We recommended arranging for someone to accompany you and drive you home from the clinic after the procedure.

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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