Eyes wide open: “Do I really have to be awake during Laser Eye Surgery?”

targeting corneal tissue in laser eye surgery

A common concern about Laser Eye Surgery is the idea that, by being awake during the procedure, you are somehow at an increased risk of complications or experiencing pain.

In fact, surveys have shown that this is one of the most common reasons people decide against treatment, before even having an initial consultation. Whilst we can appreciate that being awake during a surgical procedure doesn’t sound like much fun, it’s important to remember that Laser Eye Surgery in expert hands is painless and, moreover, that being conscious during the procedure DOES NOT put you at any risk whatsoever.

Many of our patients tell us that they were pleasantly surprised by how easy and painless the whole Laser Eye Surgery process was — especially the procedure itself.

To avoid any discomfort, anaesthetic eye drops are applied to the eye prior to surgery. This means you’ll feel very little during the actual procedure. And in the effort to make you feel as comfortable as possible, your laser eye surgeon will communicate with you throughout, explaining the process step-by-step (Our patients often report that our chocolate biscuits and complimentary massage also helped them to relax!)

Of course, one of the most common fears about being awake during Laser Eye Surgery is that you might somehow compromise the procedure by sneezing, coughing, or moving at the wrong moment. However, you can rest assured: at London Vision Clinic, we use only the most up-to-date technology, including a system that tracks the movement of your eye at more than 4,000 times per second. This ensures meticulous accuracy and means that there is virtually nothing you could do to put yourself at risk during the procedure.

You may be surprised to learn that the entire process will take just fifteen minutes or less for both eyes, and has even been described as being more pleasant than going to the dentist! Yet, we do understand that surgery of any kind is a scary prospect, and we’re always happy to discuss your concerns and answer your questions.

Have a Laser Eye Surgery question you’d like to ask the experts? Check out the top 10 most common fears of people considering Laser Eye Surgery. Or, contact our team by sending an email or calling us on 020 7224 1005. 

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For 2017, we have updated this article to ‘Quick guide: Laser Eye Surgery and anxiety’

Eyes wide open: “Do I really have to be awake during Laser Eye Surgery?”

  1. Jamie Howard 10/02/2015 at 21:29

    I don’t like having my eyes touched but I want to have the surgery will you be able to do anything about that?

    • London Vision Clinic 12/02/2015 at 17:24

      Hi Jamie,

      Over the years we have treated several patients who have ‘eye-phobias’ or don’t like having their eyes touched. Obviously the nature of the procedure means that we can’t avoid touching the eyes, but anaesthetic drops are used to numb them, so that the patient doesn’t feel any pain or discomfort. We would encourage you to come in and see us for a consultation, as we are experts in managing all sorts of anxieties relating to laser eye surgery, and you may well find that the treatment doesn’t sound as bad as you are expecting!

      If you have further questions, or would like to discuss your options in more detail, please do give us a call on 020 7224 1005, or email info@londonvisionclinic.com.

      Kind regards,

      London Vision Clinic

  2. Sumayyah 28/08/2015 at 16:50

    What happens if I blink? This is really scary for me because I’m only fourteen! Can you give me some more information or send it to my email?? Thanks.

    • Bethany Kingsley 18/05/2016 at 15:58

      Hi Sumayah,

      I am afraid we do not treat patients under 18. However, to answer your questions, if you blink then the laser would simply stop as it is tracking your eye at all times. Your eye is held open by an eye speculum so you can’t really blink.


      London Vision Clinic

  3. Joseph 01/07/2016 at 20:40

    I understand it’s possible to do while being awake. However, I am very sensitive and the nervous system of my family is a bit whacky. Normal sedatives don’t work with my family, and we have to be knocked out to not experience any pain.

    Is it possible to do the surgery while the patient is asleep, or do they have to be awake?

    • Bethany Kingsley 02/07/2016 at 09:51

      Hi Joseph,

      Thank you for your comment. You do need to be awake for the procedure and we would have to assess the effectiveness on the drops before proceeding with surgery to ensure that you were comfortable throughout. If you would like to go through this or have any other questions, please call one of our Patient Care Coordinators on 0207 224 1005.


      London Vision Clinic

  4. Cody Dirkson 29/08/2016 at 10:05

    What all happens during the procedure?

  5. Matt 10/10/2016 at 10:57

    It all looks good and I think that it can help me out a lot. But I am scared of the procedure. Is there any way that you can knock me out whilst you do it.
    Thanks Matt

    • Bethany Kingsley 10/10/2016 at 11:47

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, you do have to be awake for the procedure. We have treated a lot of patients who have been nervous and have previously never had someone touch their eyes as they are so nervous. Due to the expertise of the staff at the clinic they have sailed through the process and usually comment on how easy it was. My advice to you would be to have a consultation to determine your suitability first and then take it from there. Please call the clinic on 0207 224 1005 if you have any further questions.

      London Vision Clinic

  6. Chich 23/12/2016 at 20:37

    How comes you don’t blink in laser eye surgery. I understand that you hold it open but your eyes must get dry and you need to blink. Please answer I am very confused.

    • Bethany Kingsley 03/01/2017 at 10:48

      Hi Chich,

      Drops are put in to your eyes before, during and after the procedure. The procedure is over so quickly that your eyes do not get dry from being held open. Please call the clinic on 0207 224 1005 if you have any further questions.

      London Vision Clinic

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