Updated on  February 21, 2024
4 min read

Are You Awake for LASIK Eye Surgery?

7 sources cited
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Why Are You Awake for LASIK Surgery?

Those considering LASIK often wonder if they must be awake during the procedure. It’s a common fear and concern. Because of this, some people avoid LASIK surgery altogether.

Although it may sound scary, you’re not put to sleep for a LASIK procedure. There are some benefits to staying awake.

One benefit is that you can visually track your progress by watching what is happening during the surgery. You can also talk to your surgeon as they perform the procedure. 

Local Anesthesia is Safer Than General Anesthesia for LASIK

Anesthetic eye drops (local anesthetic) are safer than general anesthesia and don’t affect your breathing. It also protects your gag reflex and prevents vomiting during laser eye surgery. 

On the other hand, general anesthesia:

  • Will put you into a deep sleep
  • Comes with more risks than local anesthesia
  • Might cause temporary side effects like sleepiness and disorientation after the surgical procedure

Surgeons only administer local anesthesia during LASIK to avoid the adverse effects of general anesthesia.

Will You Feel Pain During LASIK Surgery?

The laser eye surgery takes place on an outpatient basis. You won’t feel pain even though you are awake during the procedure. 

The surgeon will provide you with numbing eye drops and mild oral sedation. This is used to numb the cornea’s surface and prevent discomfort.

What if You Blink, Sneeze, or Move?

It’s normal to feel nervous when you’re lying down in the surgery chair. Your LASIK surgeon will be there to help you through the procedure.

Fortunately, the laser is programmed to stop immediately if it senses movement that could interfere with the procedure. So, if you move, blink, or sneeze during the surgery, you’ll be safe.

You also won’t need to worry about blinking. The surgeon will use an eyelid speculum to open your eyelids during surgery.

LASIK Procedure: What to Expect

An eye doctor sometimes provides free LASIK consultation. During the consultation, the surgeon will explain the procedure in the following order:

  1. The surgeon will numb your eye 
  2. You will feel pressure from a suction device when the corneal flap is made
  3. Then, the surgeon lifts the flap and uses a laser to reshape your cornea
  4. You will see a starburst pattern after the flap is replaced

After replacing the flap, many patients will start seeing better immediately after surgery. Here are some reasons why you might want to stay awake during LASIK:


Many people find that staying awake helps them relax. Some even enjoy watching what’s happening. You can also communicate with the doctor or technician if there are any issues or if they need anything.

Pain Management

If you need medication for pain management, staying awake allows you to ask for some. You can also let them know if the medication is helping with the pain.


If your vision changes after surgery, speaking up immediately is best. This way, your doctor can ensure everything went well during and after the procedure.

Before Surgery

Before surgery, your doctor will conduct a pre-operative examination to document your medical history and ensure your health. This exam may include an evaluation of your: 

  • Eyes
  • Eyelids
  • Eye socket

They’ll provide instructions on how to prepare for surgery. Your doctor will tell you when to stop eating or drinking before surgery. They may also prescribe medications if necessary. 

Additionally, doctors recommend that patients stop wearing contacts for at least one week before LASIK. This is because contacts can affect the shape of the cornea, which is the part of the eye the surgeon operates on. There’s also a chance of infection or injury with contact lens use.

During Surgery

The procedure will take no more than 30 minutes. Here’s what to expect:

  • You will be asked to lie on a reclining chair
  • You’ll receive an anesthetic to numb your eye
  • The surgeon will cut your cornea (you may experience some discomfort and dimming of vision during this stage)
  • You’ll experience blurry vision throughout the procedure

After Surgery

LASIK surgery is a very quick procedure. After surgery, you can expect:

  • Itchy and/or burning eyes immediately after the procedure.
  • Your eyes to water or tear
  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare

LASIK Success Rates 

The success rate of LASIK varies from patient to patient. However, studies show 98% of patients who undergo the procedure are satisfied with their results. 

The success rates for LASIK eye surgery depend on various factors, such as: 

  • Age
  • Visual needs
  • Eye health
  • General health

Patients over 40 will see an increased risk of poor results because there’s a higher risk of dry eyes. Also, presbyopia may be present (stiffening of the eye’s lens).


During LASIK surgery, you aren’t put to sleep. Although this might seem scary, the procedure is safe, and there are benefits to staying awake.

Like most surgical procedures, the doctor will provide a local anesthetic to prevent pain and discomfort. Advanced LASIK technologies are also programmed to stop when it senses movements like blinking or sneezing.

While awake, you can communicate any discomfort or pain during the surgery. LASIK has a high success rate and provides many benefits, making it worthwhile.

Updated on  February 21, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 21, 2024
  1. What should I expect before, during, and after surgery?” US Food & Drug Administration.
  2. Watson, S. “LASIK Surgery: What to Expect.” Harvard Health Publishing, 2020.
  3. What is LASIK?” US Food & Drug Administration.
  4. LASIK & Advanced Vision Correction Frequently Asked Questions.” Flaum Eye Institute.
  5. What is the LASIK Success Rate?” American Refractive Surgery Council, 2021.
  6. Clinical Research: The Science Behind LASIK.” American Refractive Surgery Council, 2021.
  7. Kevin, J. “Pros and Cons of LASIK: Are the Risks Worth the Cost?” Michigan Health. 2017.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.