Updated on 

May 6, 2022

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Are You Awake During LASIK?

Why Are You Awake for LASIK Surgery?

Those considering LASIK often wonder if they need to be awake during the procedure. It’s a common fear and concern. Some avoid LASIK surgery altogether because of this.

Although it may sound scary, you are not put to sleep for LASIK. But 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. 

Thinking about LASIK? Start a conversation with an experienced Patient Counselor to find out if laser eye surgery is right for you. Learn More

Local Anesthesia is Safer Than General Anesthesia for LASIK

LASIK surgery takes place on an outpatient basis. 

Even though you are awake during the procedure, you won’t feel pain. This is because the surgeon will give you a mild sedative for relaxation. 

They will also administer anesthetic eye drops (local anesthesia) to numb the cornea’s surface and prevent discomfort. Local anesthesia is a one-time dose of medicine that numbs an area of the body. 

Here are a few points to remember about local anesthesia

  • It’s safer than general anesthesia
  • It doesn't affect your breathing
  • It protects your gag reflex 
  • It prevents vomiting during surgery

General anesthesia, on the one hand: 

  • 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 procedure

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

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.

If you happen to move, blink, or sneeze during the surgery, the laser is programmed to stop immediately if it senses movement that could interfere with the procedure. 

You don’t need to worry about blinking since the surgeon places an eyelid speculum to hold your eyelids open during surgery.

Questions about LASIK? Call NVISION to speak with an experienced Patient Counselor who can answer all your questions and set up a free consultation. No commitment required.

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

LASIK Procedure: What to Expect

An eye doctor sometimes provides free LASIK consultation. They’ll explain what to expect during the LASIK 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. However, many patients are already able to see better immediately after surgery. During this process, there’s no pain

Here are some reasons why you might want to stay awake during LASIK:

Relaxation

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

Pain management

If you need medication for pain management, staying awake allows you to ask for some. And, you can communicate whether or not it's helping your pain.

Communication

If your vision changes after your surgery, it’s best to speak up right away. This way, your doctor can ensure everything went well both during and after the procedure.

Before Surgery

Prior to surgery, your doctor will conduct a pre-operative examination to document your medical history and ensure you are healthy.

This exam may include an evaluation of your eyes, eyelids, and the eye socket in which LASIK surgery will occur.

They will give you instructions on how to prepare for surgery. Your doctor will tell you when to stop eating or drinking anything before the surgery. 

They may prescribe medications (if necessary) before the surgery.

Additionally, doctors typically recommend that patients not wear contact lenses for at least one week before LASIK. 

The reason? Contact lenses can affect the shape of the cornea, which is the part of the eye the surgeon operates on. Also, there is always 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 years old will see an increased risk of poor results because there’s a higher risk of dry eyes. Additionally, presbyopia (stiffening of the eye’s lens) may be present.

Still not sure about LASIK? Talk with an experienced Patient Counselor at NVISION to find out if it's right for you.

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure
7 Cited Research Articles
  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, 10 June 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, 13 Oct 2021.
  6. Clinical Research: The Science Behind LASIK." American Refractive Surgery Council, 13 Oct 2021
  7. Kevin Joy. "Pros and Cons of LASIK: Are the Risks Worth the Cost?" Michigan Health. 13 Dec 2017.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/emjay/
Author: emjay  | UPDATED May 6, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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