Yes, you are awake during LASIK.
One of the most common questions asked about LASIK is whether or not the patient is awake over the course of the 20-minute procedure. Most often, patients are given local anesthesia and a numbing agent in order to ensure very little pain or discomfort is experienced.
Although the patient is awake during the procedure generally, there is an option to be put under general anesthesia in cases where the patient does not want to be conscious during surgery. This is rare, however.
The LASIK procedure is very brief. Both eyes can be treated in under 20 minutes.
Why Do Patients Need to Be Awake During LASIK?
The LASIK procedure is a quick surgical operation, so general anesthesia is not considered necessary due to the duration of the procedure alone. It is also better to be awake during a LASIK procedure, so the eye surgeon can ask you questions over the course of the surgery in order to ensure a successful treatment.
Some patients are skeptical about being awake during LASIK surgery. It is a common apprehension that blinking or moving can cause complications during the procedure, and these sorts of events are more likely to happen if a patient remains awake. However, due to the precision of the instruments and other devices used, LASIK offers an extremely high rate of success.
LASIK is considered a routine procedure and has among the highest success rates of any elective procedure. The use of cutting-edge laser technology reduces the likelihood of human error of any kind.
What Happens if You Blink or Move?
You will want to remain as still as possible during your LASIK procedure, but the laser is designed to track movements of the eye (at a speed of over 4,000+ times per second). In addition, a special device is used to prevent the eye from blinking (often called a blinking retainer).
Experienced eye surgeons will have experience working with a variety of individuals, so there is very little to worry about. LASIK surgery has been performed on millions of patients all over the world and has been used for vision correction since the 1990s. Rest assured that they know how to handle the situation if you blink repeatedly.
After the eye surgeon numbs the area and administers local anesthesia, a corneal flap is created that allows for the laser to reshape the eye accordingly. Once the eye is shaped correctly, the flap is put back in place, and the eye is left to heal.
Patients may be advised to wear a guard over the eye to provide protection after surgery. This may only be worn at night to protect the eyes from rubbing while you are asleep.
Patients may experience itchiness and dry eyes after surgery, but these usually resolve within six months. Artificial tears can be used to alleviate discomfort.
Nervousness Leading Up to the Procedure
Although some patients may be surprised to discover that they will be awake and conscious during LASIK, the fact remains that LASIK has both a high rate of success and a high patient satisfaction rate.
The general outcome of LASIK is most often permanently improved vision. Patients experience improved eyesight in cases of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and the majority do not have to wear glasses or contacts after surgery.
Consulting with your eye care professional prior to undergoing LASIK will ensure all your questions are answered, and you have all the instructions and directions you need to set yourself up for a successful surgery.
Rest assured that this is an incredibly common procedure. Some degree of nervousness may be expected, but when you choose an experienced surgeon, you will likely feel added peace of mind.
Laser In Situ Keratomileusis. (July 2022). StatPearls.
Functional Outcome and Patient Satisfaction After Laser In Situ Keratomileusis for Correction of Myopia and Myopic Astigmatism. (January 2022). Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology.
Last Updated January 10, 2023
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