Many people fear the unknown. This is a particularly common fear among people who are contemplating LASIK surgery, as most do not know what to expect from the procedure. Prospective LASIK patients may be apprehensive about the possibility of LASIK pain, the risk of losing their eyesight, and the fact that they will have to remain alert during the procedure. For some, such fears may be enough to prevent them from seriously considering LASIK surgery; however, gaining a solid understanding of the LASIK surgical process has helped many individuals overcome their phobias. The sections below detail some of the most common LASIK fears, and the video - from one of our DocShop network refractive surgeons - illustrates the steps that doctors take to ensure their patients' health and comfort.
Fear of Pain
One of the most common fears about the surgery is LASIK pain. Many prospective LASIK patients are afraid they will experience some kind of discomfort since the procedure is performed while they are fully conscious. However, a mild sedative is given to patients to ensure that they remain comfortable, and numbing drops are applied to the eyes before the surgery begins. Although patients may feel some pressure, these steps help to make the LASIK process relatively pain free.
Fear of Laser Contact
Aside from LASIK pain, many prospective patients are also afraid of having a laser beam shine directly into their eyes during the procedure. While LASIK surgery does involve the use of a laser to remove tissue from the cornea, the laser only comes in contact with each eye for about 10-to-15 seconds. Some patients are concerned they might blink or look away during surgery and fear that this might result in serious complications. However, the laser used during LASIK has an eye tracking system which follows eye movement, and laser pulses are matched to that movement during treatment. Additionally, the eye lids are held open during the procedure to prevent blinking.
Fear of "the Scalpel"
Some patients are also afraid that a scalpel will be used to make a flap in the cornea during LASIK surgery. However, the LASIK process does not incorporate the use of a scalpel. Instead, a computer operated surgical blade, known as a microkeratome, is employed for superb precision. Alternatively, an IntraLase® laser can be used during the procedure to create the corneal flap without the use of a blade.
Fear of Going Blind as a Result of LASIK Surgery
In addition to LASIK pain, another common fear patients have is that they might go blind after LASIK surgery. But according to the FDA, there have been no reported cases of a patient going blind due to LASIK. In fact, the risk of facing serious complications after surgery is less than 1 percent, and the risk of suffering from less serious complications is only 3 percent. It is also very rare for a patient’s vision to become worse after LASIK surgery. Should that occur, your surgeon will perform a second procedure to correct the problem.
Fear of Being Awake During the Procedure
Prospective LASIK patients may also be worried about having to remain awake during surgery. Although patients must be awake during the LASIK procedure, they are given a mild sedative beforehand to help them relax.
Fear of the Eyes Being Open During the Procedure
Even though a sedative is administered to help patients calm down before surgery, some patients are still fearful of having to watch the entire LASIK procedure. However, the surgeon applies drops to the eyes during LASIK surgery, which allows the patient’s vision to black out for about ten seconds. Because of this, the patient will not be able to see the entire procedure.
Discuss Your Fears with a Surgeon in Your Area
The more you know the LASIK process, the more comfortable you will feel about undergoing the surgery. It is best to talk with a qualified surgeon about any fears of LASIK pain, LASIK costs, or other fears you may have about the procedure. The DocShop directory has a list of experienced LASIK surgeons in your area who can address all your questions and concerns.