Can You Be Put To Sleep For Lasik Eye Surgery?

LASIK eye surgery is a widely acclaimed and highly effective procedure that enhances vision by using a laser to reshape the cornea.

Despite its widespread success and high satisfaction rate, one question frequently arises among potential LASIK candidates: Can you be put to sleep for LASIK eye surgery? 

This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive answer to this question, diving into the details of the procedure, anaesthesia options, and what to expect during and after LASIK surgery.


Understanding LASIK Surgery

Before diving into the specifics of anaesthesia during LASIK, it’s essential to understand what the procedure entails. 

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a type of refractive eye surgery designed to enhance vision. The procedure involves using a laser to reshape the cornea, ensuring that light entering the eye is accurately focused onto the retina. This can correct common vision issues such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

The entire process usually takes about 15 minutes for both eyes, and most patients experience significant improvements in their vision shortly after the procedure.


Anesthesia During LASIK Surgery

One of the primary concerns for potential LASIK candidates is the level of discomfort or pain associated with the procedure. Unlike other surgeries where general anaesthesia might be necessary, LASIK surgery is performed using local anaesthesia. Here’s why:

Local Anesthesia

For LASIK, surgeons use specially formulated numbing eye drops to anesthetise the surface of the eye. This local anaesthesia is highly effective in eliminating pain and significantly reducing discomfort during the procedure. 

There are several reasons for this:

Safety Concerns

General anaesthesia carries inherent risks, including complications related to the heart and lungs. Given that LASIK is a relatively quick and minimally invasive procedure, the risks associated with general anaesthesia far outweigh the benefits.

Patient Cooperation

During LASIK, it is crucial for the patient to remain still and follow the surgeon’s instructions, such as focusing on a target light. Being conscious allows the patient to respond to these commands, which is vital for the success of the surgery.


Quick Onset and Quick Recovery Time

One of the significant advantages of LASIK is its rapid onset and rapid recovery time. 

The numbing effect takes hold within minutes.

Moreover, using general anaesthesia would necessitate a longer recovery period and additional medical supervision, which is unnecessary for this type of surgery.


Mild Sedatives

In some cases, the surgeon may also prescribe a mild sedative, such as Valium, to help the patient relax. This alleviates anxiety and ensures a more comfortable experience, eliminating the need for general anaesthesia.


Intraoperative Comfort

During the procedure, the surgeon will use a device to keep your eye open, ensuring you won’t need to worry about blinking. You will also be asked to focus on a target light, which helps keep your eye steady. The process is meticulously designed to ensure it is as smooth and stress-free as possible.


Why General Anesthesia is Not Used

General anaesthesia, which puts patients into a deep sleep, is not necessary and is rarely, if ever, used for LASIK surgery. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Short Procedure Duration: The entire LASIK procedure is very quick, generally taking only about 15 minutes for both eyes. The risks and logistics of general anaesthesia are not justified for such a brief surgery.
  2. Patient Cooperation: During LASIK, patients must focus on a target light and keep their eyes still. General anaesthesia would hinder this focus and complicate the procedure.
  3. Increased Risks: General anaesthesia involves higher risks, including complications related to the administration of anaesthesia and longer recovery periods.
  4. Unnecessary Complexity: The use of general anaesthesia would add unnecessary complexity, time, and cost to a procedure that is already highly effective with local anaesthesia.


What to Expect During LASIK Surgery

Understanding what happens during the LASIK procedure can help alleviate any concerns about the need for general anaesthesia. Here’s a step-by-step overview:

  1. Preparation: Upon arrival, you will receive numbing eye drops and, if prescribed, a mild sedative.
  2. Positioning: You will lie down on a reclining chair, and your surgeon will position your head under the laser.
  3. Eye Stabilization: A speculum is used to hold your eyelids open, while a suction ring ensures your eye remains steady.
  4. Flap Creation: The surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea, which may cause a sensation of pressure but no pain.
  5. Laser Reshaping: You will be asked to focus on a target light while the excimer laser reshapes your cornea. The laser makes clicking sounds and may have a mild odour.
  6. Flap Repositioning: The surgeon repositions the corneal flap, and it naturally adheres without the need for stitches.
  7. Completion: The procedure is completed in minutes, and you will rest briefly before going home.


Post-Procedure Care and Recovery

After the procedure, you may experience mild discomfort or a gritty sensation in your eyes, which typically subsides within a few hours. Your vision will begin to improve almost immediately, and most patients achieve optimal results within a few days. Here are some post-operative care tips:

  • Follow-Up Appointments: Ensure you attend all scheduled follow-up visits to monitor and promote optimal healing.
  • Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes: This can disrupt the corneal flap and affect healing.
  • Use Prescribed Eye Drops: These help prevent infection and manage inflammation.
  • Protective Eyewear: Wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from bright light and debris.


Personalized Care for Optimal Results

In conclusion, you cannot be put to sleep for LASIK eye surgery due to safety concerns, the need for patient cooperation, and the efficient nature of the procedure. However, the use of local anaesthetic eye drops and mild sedatives ensures that the experience is as comfortable as possible. If you are considering LASIK, it’s essential to consult with a qualified ophthalmologist who can provide personalized care tailored to your specific needs.

By understanding what to expect during LASIK eye surgery, you can approach the procedure with confidence and ease, knowing that you are in capable hands. If you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your eye care provider. Your journey towards a clearer vision is just beginning!


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