Seismic sneezes in the clinic

In addition to being a writer and broadcaster, my nearest and dearest also remark on my heart-attack-inducing ability to produce — totally without warning — seismic sneezes.

These unexpected explosions even take me by surprise. But they leave my poor partner — whose sneezes are of the suppressed and squeaky style (in my opinion, hardly meriting a “bless you”) — a quivering wreck.

Thankfully, I’m not the worst. The world record for the loudest sneeze is held by a man in China called Yi Yang whose nose explodes at a level of 176 decibels — louder than a jet engine and a gun shot — making mine seem demure and weak in comparison.

Apart from the sheer volume of the expression, and the unhygienic 100mph expulsion of droplets of germs (apparently between 2 and 5,000 of the little critters) per sneeze, there’s also the worry that one’s eyes automatically snap shut during the “Ah-choo” moment.

Although this defensive mechanism doesn’t typically cause any harm in daily life, unless you’re driving and smack you head off the steering wheel (it can happen), it raises an important concern regarding Laser Eye Surgery:

What would happen if one sneezed, or, for that matter, made any other movement, in the middle of having Laser Eye Surgery?

It’s a legitimate question. After all, in the middle of having an incredibly precise treatment on your eyes, should you suddenly get a tickle in the back of the throat or the urge to twitch violently, you want to know exactly what you should do.

For reassurance and if necessary, step-by-step instructions, there’s no better person to speak to than expert laser eye surgeon Professor Dan Reinstein.

“It wouldn’t matter if you moved your head — all that would happen is that we would slow the procedure down…”

Prof Reinstein has said you can even be playing tennis and still have the procedure done. It may take a good while longer, but the point is, due to advanced safety and eye-tracking technology, the treatment can only be administered when your eye is in exactly the right position. 

That covers the sneezing issue. But what about the involuntary twitching and random movements? Or if I get bored and or frightened by the pain mid-way through?

He elaborates:

“Do you move your head when you are watching television or reading an email? No, you are just sitting there and looking at the screen. Undergoing Laser Eye Surgery is something similar. Throughout you have got something to look at — a flashing light which changes from red to green — and I am telling you what to do: look at the light, now look down, now do this, now do that. It is just like a normal conversation, but all the while you are feeling rather strange things — like a sort of pushing sensation on the eye. But obviously, you don’t feel any pain at all because that has been completely blocked.”

So I do have to lay still for a bit, but I won’t be completely motionless and without anything to do. On top of that, there’s no worry of pain or discomfort because that’s been blocked? What does he mean blocked? Do they put me to sleep or something?

“No pain at all gets through the anaesthetic eye drops. The only thing that is not anaesthetised is the brain. In fact, it helps the surgeon for the patient to be awake and even a little bit of anxiety is a good thing as it means that the patient is more focused on what he is being asked to do.”

Oh, okay, now I get it. It’s perfectly normal to have a little bit of anxiety about my seismic sneezes.

“Don’t worry”, concludes Prof Reinstein,  “moving, coughing, sneezing, turning your head — none of those things will affect the end result in any way … that’s how safe this laser procedure has become.”

Thanks Prof. You’re the man.

If you’d like to find out more about the procedure or book your consultation, leave us a comment or contact one of our friendly clinical team today.