Fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of lasers … there are lots of reasons LASIK laser eye surgery patients experience “white coat hypertension” before their vision correction procedure.

As LASIK specialists, we firmly believe that information is one of the most powerful tools to combat anxiety about surgery. Here, we’ll arm you with information about the safety of LASIK eye surgery that will ease your mind, as well as five simple tips to make your life easier during LASIK.

Facts to Help You Stay Calm During LASIK

LASIK surgery is a quick and painless procedure. The procedure takes no more than 15 minutes and the laser spends only a few seconds on each eye. Many patients report that this short time seems to fly by even if they felt anxious.

One of the most common fears our patients report is that they will sneeze or cough during the procedure and lead to bad results or even injury. Rest assured, injuries and complications from LASIK are exceedingly rare.

It should help to know that there are reliable ways to prevent movement during surgery. A sophisticated laser system tracks the tiniest involuntary movements of the eye and adjusts the surgical laser accordingly to achieve pinpoint accuracy.

You may also find it comforting to know that after approximately two decades of use, LASIK has just about the most impressive track record a patient could hope for. According to the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, 99 percent of LASIK patients achieved 20/40 vision or better, while 90 percent achieved 20/20 or better. As of 2016, laser vision correction enjoyed a 96 percent patient satisfaction rate, this is the highest success rate of any elective procedure (Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, Vol. 42, Issue 8, August 2016, Pages 1224-1234).

Perhaps the best part is that you’ll move forward with clear vision that doesn’t require corrective eyewear. That means no longer spending a fortune on glasses and contact lenses every year.

Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

5 Ways to Stay Calm During LASIK

  1. Empower yourself with knowledge. You have “nothing to fear but fear itself,” according to Franklin Roosevelt … and we are inclined to agree. When we face the unfamiliar, it is easy to imagine the worst, but with LASIK, there are lots of comforting facts to unearth. So go get them.Talk to your laser eye doctor about any concerns you have before you move forward with LASIK. Your doctor will be happy to walk you through what to expect in as much detail as you want, so you fully understand the benefits and risks.Your laser eye surgeon will also give you instructions on what to do before, the day of, and the day after your laser surgery to reduce risk and ensure you get the best experience possible. Following their directions to the letter should bring you comfort.
  1. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing exercises are easy and effective at reducing stress and anxiety at any time. The trick is to keep breathing at a slow and steady rate.In the days leading up to LASIK, practice this technique:
  • Inhale deeply for five seconds.
  • Hold it for five seconds.
  • Exhale for five seconds.
  • Repeat.When possible, enhance the relaxing aspects of this technique by lying down in a comfortable place, closing your eyes, and clearing your mind.
  1. Bring emotional support—and a driver. Your LASIK surgery center will require you to have a ride home after surgery. Bring along a friend or family member you feel has a calming influence on you, has your best interests at heart, or can at least distract you with a great sense of humor.
  2. Distract yourself. Your aforementioned driver/support person may be able to keep your mind off your worry during your short time in the waiting room. But bring a back-up diversion, too.
    Listen to music or play a game on your smartphone to keep your mind occupied before treatment. Your surgeon may even allow you to listen to music during the procedure.
  3. If you need something to help you relax, ask for it. Anesthetic drops will effectively numb your eyes against pain, but it’s normal to still feel anxious about LASIK eye surgery. LASIK surgeons can provide you with an anti-anxiety medication such as low-dose diazepam (Valium) shortly before surgery so you can feel more at ease.

Here are some questions we often hear about LASIK and fear:

If you’re feeling butterflies about LASIK, you’re not alone. Every day we answer questions from patients who are nervous about pain, cost or being fully conscious during surgery. Here are some of the most common questions, as well as answers we think will alleviate some of your fears.

How do you stay calm during laser eye surgery?

There are 5 effective ways to stay calm during LASIK: 1. Know what to expect. 2. Practice deep breathing. 3. Use entertaining distractions. 4. Bring emotional support—and a driver. 5. Ask your LASIK surgeon for anxiety medication to help ease your nerves.

Can I get LASIK if I have anxiety?

Yes, you can get LASIK even if you experience anxiety. In fact, most laser eye surgery patients report nervousness to some degree—it is normal. Know that LASIK is safe and effective with extremely high customer satisfaction. Your surgeon will have techniques ensure your anxiety doesn’t interfere with your procedure.

Work with your surgeon to deal with your fears. From the moment you consider LASIK, let your LASIK surgeon know how you feel and what, specifically, frightens you about surgery. Your doctor can provide you with information about laser surgery that should dispel most of these fears so that you can have the best experience possible.

Your entire laser eye surgery center team is happy to fully explain how your LASIK procedure works, what will happen on surgery day, and what precautions they will take to ensure you are safe and comfortable from start to finish. You may even find that most of the things you dreaded loomed larger in your imagination than in reality.

How do I get over my fear of eye surgery?

You may not completely overcome fear of eye surgery, but the more you know about it, the calmer you will be. Spend time with your eye surgeon asking all your questions and discussing your concerns. Your doctor will work with you ahead of time on a plan to address potential anxiety.

Why are people afraid of LASIK?

Many patients worry about pain, of not being in control, what could go wrong, or of being awake for the procedure. Know that LASIK is painless, thanks to numbing eye drops, and most patients feel little more than slight pressure, if anything. Your eyes will be immobile, even though you’re awake.

Is it normal to be nervous before LASIK?

It is normal and common to feel nervous, scared, and have anxiety. LASIK will likely be completely foreign to you, and you may find the lasers intimidating. Your surgeon will have experience treating patients with pre-surgical jitters and will help you address anxiety so you achieve the best possible outcome.

I’ve had panic attacks before. What happens if I have a panic attack during LASIK?

It is not uncommon for a patient to experience mild to moderate anxiety during LASIK. If this happens, your surgeon will take time to calm you and can provide an anti-anxiety medication to help soothe your nervousness. Usually, though, LASIK goes so quickly, it is over before much anxiety can build.

However, it is important to note that your surgeon will use sophisticated laser equipment to track the most minute movements of your eye; this technology cues the surgical laser to adjust to these movements for precise correction of refractive errors.

LASIK at Brinton Vision

Looking forward to life free from glasses or contact lenses? Brinton Vision uses advanced technology in to achieve optimal vision correction, including all seven LASIK eye surgery options available to date. For information, give us a call at 314.375.2020. We will be happy to set up your Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis to see how we can help you achieve visual freedom.

Dr. Jason P. Brinton is an internationally recognized specialist in the field of LASIK and refractive surgery. He is a graduate of Harvard College, earned his medical doctorate from the Harvard Medical School and is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.