Laser eye surgery can be a life-changing experience, and it’s one that few people regret. However, fear of laser eye surgery is a real and understandable barrier that stops many patients from undergoing this safe, simple and painless procedure. In fact, the fear factor is the biggest reason why more people don’t go ahead with laser eye surgery.
If that’s you, perhaps we can help. If you have fears or worries about the procedure, read on for some facts, figures and tips to help you to overcome your fear of laser eye surgery.
It is very common (and rational) to be anxious or afraid when contemplating any type of surgery. Procedures involving the eyes often evoke particular fear, phobias and general squeamishness. Here we’ll address some of the common reasons why people can be scared of laser eye surgery.
- Pain during the procedure. Will it hurt? That’s an understandable fear. However, this quick and safe surgical treatment is carried out only when anaesthetic drops have been applied to your eyes, and is in fact entirely painless. Some people experience some mild irritation in the days following surgery, but this can be easily treated and passes quickly.
- Fear of being awake. While it might be easier to accept surgery under general anaesthetic (when you’re not aware what’s going on), many patients are anxious about being awake and aware during laser eye surgery. However, although the procedure is carried out while you are awake and fully conscious, your eyes will be numbed. You may feel a slight pressure while your surgeon creates a flap in the cornea, but there will be no pain. The bonus of being awake is that you can signal to your surgeon at any time if you need to catch their attention. Your surgeon will talk you through the procedure as it happens, giving you reassurance. Also, if you are still nervous, some valium (diazepam) can be given to help you relax.
- Fear of going blind, or something going wrong. Undergoing laser eye surgery may feel like taking a big risk. What if there are complications or something bad happens? While any form of surgery carries some element of risk, you may be reassured to learn that laser eye surgery is an extremely safe and low-risk procedure, with no reported cases of complete blindness. We’ll examine the statistics and risks in more detail below.
What are the facts?
- Laser eye surgery is the most common type of refractive surgery treatment, with one form of laser eye surgery; LASIK, the most common type of surgery in the world.
- Over 50,000 refractive surgery treatments happen in the UK every year and a total of 30 million refractive surgery treatments have been carried out worldwide.
- New technology means that the majority of prescriptions can now be safely treated with laser eye surgery, even high refractive errors.
- According to NHS figures, the risk of complications following laser eye surgery is less than 5%. Dry eyes, halos and glare are common temporary side-effects that usually clear up within the first six months.
- There are no recorded cases of complete blindness as a result of LASIK laser eye surgery.
- You can read more about the risks of LASIK surgery to understand more about possible risks and side-effects.
Fear isn’t always completely rational. Even if you are convinced by all the facts and stats, you may find you still experience the laser eye surgery fear factor when the prospect of surgery beckons. So, here are some tips and techniques to help you conquer your fear of vision surgery.
- Know your enemy. Read up on all the risks and benefits of the procedure before going ahead. Talk to your surgeon about your concerns.
- Visualise the benefits. Understanding how laser eye surgery could transform your life could provide the motivation you need to overcome your vision correction fear.
- Be comfortable with your surgeon. Choose a laser eye surgeon who puts you at ease, understands your concerns and takes them seriously. If you’re not comfortable with one surgeon, try another. Your surgeon is the main determinate of outcome. With the right surgeon, the chance of experiencing even minor problems are extremely low.
- Simple breathing techniques can help you to remain calm and manage your fear.
- Some people find that meditation helps them to stay mindful and can be a useful tool in overcoming their fear of laser eye surgery – both during surgery and beforehand.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of laser eye surgery, contact us to make an appointment.