Can I Be Put to Sleep for LASIK Surgery?

Find out if you will be put to sleep during your LASIK surgery and what type of anesthetic will be used.

Can I Be Put to Sleep for LASIK Surgery?

Patients are not put to sleep during LASIK surgery. Rest assured that you won't feel any pain because the procedure begins when the eye doctor numbs your eyes with eye drops. During more invasive or major surgeries, anesthesia is used to put the patient to sleep and prevent them from feeling pain. Anesthesia is generally considered very safe.

However, general anesthesia requires the help of an anesthesiologist, a doctor who practices anesthesia. Many patients fear that being awake means that they will feel everything that is happening and that makes them feel apprehensive when they think about eye surgery. Rest assured that you won't feel more than a slight pressure in your eye, if you feel anything. In addition to anesthetic eye drops, you will be given mild oral sedation so that even if you are awake, you will feel relaxed.

LASIK eye surgery can be a great option for permanently correcting vision and ultimately getting rid of those annoying glasses and contact lenses that are often time consuming. A patient from Camarillo asked me with concern today if injections or any type of needle were used to numb the eye during LASIK laser eye surgery. Another concern related to being conscious during LASIK procedures is the possibility of accidentally moving the eye and causing the surgery to go wrong. You may have the impression that, since this is surgery, you will have to sleep to be able to perform it.

However, because of the speed and safety with which LASIK is performed, staying conscious and awake during the procedure is practical and cost-effective. Although technically considered a surgical procedure, LASIK is minimally invasive and patients can recover at home because of its speed and the reduced recovery time needed. Because of the short duration of LASIK and its relative safety, general anesthesia is not required, as it will only increase the cost and require more recovery time. The safety mechanisms of modern LASIK devices are so advanced that they react long before the surgeon can.

Eye surgeons are well aware of the sensations that potential LASIK patients may have when they think that they will be awake during the procedure. So, the reassuring thing is that the only anesthetic used during LASIK is a topical anesthetic drop just before the procedure. The only exception is that, in some cases, very young pediatric patients are given general anesthesia and put to sleep during surgery, but LASIK in these very young pediatric populations remains somewhat controversial and should only be performed very cautiously and rarely. Some people assume that because they are undergoing a surgical procedure, they will be given anesthesia and put to sleep.

In the time it took me to worry about what could go wrong, your LASIK eye surgery will be over. After the LASIK procedure is over, it's normal to have a very mild degree of irritation without the need for additional anesthesia, as if you were outdoors or with less intensity.