Free article by Danielle Briones
"… I lay in the bed at the LASIK surgical facility, eyes pried open with what appeared to be some medieval torture device, the wild-eyed surgeon coming at me with a scalpel. His accomplice, the nurse, stood ready behind him, aiming the high-tech laser system that was to obliterate my entire ocular cavity."
Clearly, I had a number of fears associated with LASIK surgery before undergoing the procedure in 2006. My paranoid visions of a crazy surgeon doing irreversible damage to my eyesight caused me to put off the procedure for five years. After undergoing surgery, I found that most of my fears were exaggerated and that 20/20 vision was definitely worth all the apprehension I had felt about LASIK.
Although millions of Americans are candidates for LASIK surgery, a significant portion elect not to undergo treatment due to fears associated with the procedure. It's not surprising, considering how heavily we rely on our vision. Remember the frustration that came from being blindfolded when playing games at birthday parties as children? Fumbling around to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey or wildly bashing a candy-filled piñata while engulfed in utter darkness? Experiences such as these have helped us to understand the importance of our vision and have led some people to avoid vision correction surgery altogether. Here are the reasons why:
1. Going blind as a result of the procedure
Many potential LASIK candidates fear that they will go blind as a result of the procedure. But according to the FDA, there has not been one case of a patient going blind as a result of LASIK surgery.
Fear of pain is one of the main reasons people avoid undergoing medical procedures. Fortunately, LASIK is one of the least invasive forms of surgery performed today. Patients are typically offered a sedative prior to treatment, and numbing drops are applied to the eyes to alleviate pain.
3. Having the eye cut with a scalpel
Aside from those who are addicted to plastic surgery, no one really wants to have their bodies sliced up with a scalpel. LASIK patients don't have to worry about "undergoing the knife" if they don't want to. A scalpel is not used during the LASIK procedure; rather, the corneal flap that allows the surgeon access to the tissue underneath is created with use of the Intralase® laser or a blade known as a microkeratome.
4. Laser contact with the eye
Yes, an excimer laser is used to shape the cornea. No, the excimer laser is not a lightsaber-esque instrument used to battle evil forces. While many potential LASIK patients fear the part of the procedure in which the laser comes into contact with the eye, it lasts for only about 10 seconds per eye. And the majority of patients say they did not experience pain, just slight pressure, when the laser shaped their corneas.
5. Being awake during the procedure
LASIK surgery is an outpatient procedure during which patients are awake. Fear of seeing the microkeratome or laser come into contact with the eye is enough to convince some prospective patients to stick with their eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, contrary to popular belief, LASIK patients can't see the microkeratome or excimer laser during surgery. LASIK surgeons apply eye drops that cause the eyes to black out during treatment.
I myself experienced each of these fears prior to LASIK surgery. In the end, I found the procedure itself to be a minor inconvenience that is certainly worth the benefits. I did experience some pain in my eyes a couple hours after the procedure. My LASIK surgeon had recommended that I go to sleep as soon as I got home - but I didn't take his advice. When the numbing drops wore off and I began to feel some pain, I decided to sleep it off. I fell asleep and woke up about five hours later, around midnight, feeling no pain. When I opened my eyes and saw that the illuminated numbers on my clock were clear, not fuzzy, I realized the treatment had worked – and that my fears regarding LASIK were unfounded.