The most nervous people get on LASIK day isn’t during the actual procedure, it’s just before it. I don’t mean when they wake up or on the drive in. It’s that five minute period just before you walk into the LASIK suite. You’re wearing one of those bouffant surgical caps and your friend or significant other takes your picture because the hat looks funny. But on the inside, you’re nervous. It’s the same feeling you might have waiting off-stage right before you give a big presentation.
The anxiety is always — always — about the same thing. It is the same cause of anxiety you’d have waiting for that presentation. “Is this going to go well?” And even more accurately, the idea of it going poorly is based on the same fear “Am I going to screw this up somehow?” For a presentation, I don’t have any helpful information. For LASIK, I have very good news.
LASIK for the Real-World
Everyone worries that they won’t hold their eye still enough or keep their eye open. And in the history of LASIK, I feel confident in saying that no one has ever held their eye still; no one has ever not blinked for the entirety of the 10-minute procedure. LASIK had to be designed around real-world conditions, and in the real-world, people who are alive and awake move their eyes constantly. They blink involuntarily and all the time. Have you ever tried to not blink for just 30 seconds? It’s almost impossible.
I try not to say the same speech over and over again to every patient, because it sounds like, well, a speech. But there is one sentence I will say multiple times throughout each day to LASIK patients who are just about to start their procedure. “You can make it take longer, where we’re in there for 15 minutes instead of 10, but you can’t do anything to mess it up.” The relief people feel when they hear that is instantaneous. The intense worry about “what if my eye moves” goes away when you realize your eye is most definitely going to move, and it doesn’t matter.
The tracking systems are so sophisticated now that the laser can follow your eye much faster than your eye can move. The blinks are cured by a simple device I call a “blink protector” that works like a blink stop so that those inevitable blinks don’t matter at all. Every unique movement that people worry they may be the first to do has been done a thousand times before and isn’t a problem. Sneezing, coughing, restless legs, crying, laughing, and on the list goes. The reason LASIK is so popular isn’t because a group of super athlete meditation experts did well with LASIK. It’s because the list of “what ifs” has been so thoroughly solved for every normal person who wants LASIK.
In full disclosure, do you have the ability to mess up your LASIK surgery if you’re trying to? Yes. But even then, the only examples I can come up with are if you decide to reach up and start poking yourself in the eyes a bunch, or if you get up and run out of the room at a few different specific moments. Luckily, anyone at risk for that can be easily weeded out during a LASIK consultation. If the reason they give for wanting LASIK is, “I’m a lizard and super insane no you are no you are bahahahaha,” then we just know, this fella probably should hold off for now.
Calm Your Nerves with Research
If you want LASIK, but fear of the unknown is holding you back, my best advice would be to research until all that unknown is gone. That research may be just finding a LASIK surgeon you’re comfortable with and leaving the details to them. It may be learning every facet of the procedure and how the technology mitigates risk. Either way, the steps you take towards it will eventually lead you to the conclusion that you can’t mess up you LASIK unless you want to. I am positive that matter how much you hate stuff near your eyes, LASIK has been done without a hitch on someone just like you.
Author: Joel Hunter, MD is an Ophthalmologist, Refractive Surgeon, and the Founder of Hunter Vision, a LASIK Orlando Clinic in Florida. A recognized and respected specialist in vision correction who has performed a countless number of refractive surgeries, Joel gives lectures across the country and trains fellow doctors in the newest LASIK surgery techniques.