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Are You Awake During LASIK?

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You are awake during LASIK. The procedure is quick, painless, and safe. 

Your doctor will use numbing drops to keep you comfortable. Tools used during critical moments of your surgery will keep your eyes open, so you won’t blink. 

LASIK is typically painless. You won’t be tempted to blink, move your head, or cover your eyes due to pain. Instead, you’ll be ctively involved in the process, ensuring you get the results you want.

Why Are You Awake During LASIK?

An estimated 800,000 people have LASIK surgery every year, and they do not have general anesthesia for the procedure. Doctors choose to keep you awake during surgery because they know this method provides the best outcomes, including sharp vision without glasses or contact lenses. 

You’re awake during LASIK for these reasons:

  • LASIK is fast. The average LASIK procedure is over in minutes. General anesthesia would induce sleep for longer than what is necessary.
  • LASIK is relatively painless. Local anesthetic is an effective way to control pain signals during LASIK eye surgery. You don’t need the intense protection general anesthesia might provide. 
  • Your focus is required. To ensure proper positioning during LASIK, your doctor will ask you to look at a bright light. General anesthesia makes this instruction impossible. LASIK works by reshaping your eye, and your proper positioning makes this possible. 
  • You’ll heal faster. The medications your doctor works to numb your eyes keep working when your surgery is complete. You’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable, allowing for a quick recovery. 
  • You can go home. Local anesthetic allows you to rest and recover in comfortable surroundings rather than remaining behind for monitoring (as you’d need to with general anesthetic).

Advanced LASIK surgery providers, like NVISION, have LASIK success rates of 99%, meaning the vast majority of their patients achieve 20/20 vision. This surgery is extremely safe.

Why Is Local Anesthesia Safer Than General Anesthesia for LASIK Eye Surgery?

Two types of anesthesia exist: general and local. During LASIK, your doctor uses a local anesthetic, which is generally safer than general anesthesia.

While general anesthesia is safer now than ever before, it is inherently dangerous. It suppresses the following:

  • Consciousness
  • Breathing rate
  • Heart rate 
  • Nervous system 

People with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other common conditions can struggle with general anesthesia. If you’re completely sedated, your doctor can’t check your response to a delicate surgery like LASIK.

Safe & Effective LASIK Surgery With Local Anesthetic

Local anesthesia numbs only the part of your body corrected by surgery: your eyes. Drops placed inside your eyelids numb the area, but you’re awake and responsive during the procedure. 

Local anesthesia also reduces redness, swelling, and chances of an allergic reaction typically associated with general anesthesia. You will recover quicker with local anesthesia, and you’ll have pain relief for several hours after the operation.

It’s natural to worry about the possibility of blinking during LASIK. Know that your blinking reflex will be suppressed during surgery, and your doctor will use tools during critical moments to keep your eyes open for even more protection. 

The local anesthetic your doctor uses during LASIK limits blinking signals like dryness or discomfort. You won’t feel the urge to blink. In minutes, the surgery will be over. 

For added protection, your doctor will use tiny tools to keep your eyes open wide as the laser works. These tools aren’t painful, but they can ensure you don’t blink. 

You’re not alone during LASIK. Your doctor will be there to answer questions and ensure you stay calm and comfortable during surgery.

What to Expect After LASIK Eye Surgery

When your LASIK eye surgery is complete, your eyes may feel a little itchy, gritty, or watery. You shouldn’t feel pain, and you might notice vision changes immediately. 

Your doctor will send you home with eye drops to aid tissue healing. Some people need oral pain medications, but this is rare. You’ll get fitted with an eye shield right before you leave, and you should wear it all the time to keep you from inadvertently touching or rubbing your eyes. 

Typically, recovery after LASIK is quick. Researchers say nearly all people have 20/40 visual acuity within 4 hours of surgery, and 20/20 visual acuity within 24 hours. You’ll likely be back to work and your other normal routines within a day or two. Follow-up appointments with your doctor will ensure you’re healing smoothly.

LASIK Eye Surgery at NVISION Eye Centers

NVISION Eye Centers uses the latest technology to correct your vision. Pre-surgical mapping ensures that your corneas are exactly the right shape after the procedure, and lasers take tiny amounts of tissue with extreme precision. LASIK at NVISION is both safe and very effective.

More than 2 million LASIK procedures have been performed at NVISION Eye Centers. Surgeons have a 99% patient satisfaction rate.

NVISION doctors have performed this procedure thousands of times, but you’re not just a number. Your doctor will ensure you know all about caring for your eyes after LASIK, and follow-up appointments ensure you’re healing well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to be awake for LASIK?

Yes. Your doctor needs your cooperation and feedback during LASIK to ensure you get the results you want. You must be awake.

Are you under anesthesia for LASIK?

Yes. Your doctor will use local anesthesia, numbing just your eyes during the surgery. But you won’t need general anesthesia for this short, painless surgery.

What happens if I cry or sneeze during LASIK?

Lasers monitor your eye’s micro-movements several times a second and will shut down the lasers when they detect the slightest movement caused by sneezing or coughing. Any involuntary movement will not affect the surgery.

LASIK surgery doesn’t take long, and it’s usually completed too quickly for crying. Even if it happens, the doctor can wipe away your tears and pause the surgery for a few seconds. You can ask your doctor to use a drying medication if it’s a concern.

Can I smoke after LASIK?

Your eye doctor will likely advise you not to smoke until the cornea heals. Smoke tends to irritate eyes, cause dry eyes, and slow down the natural healing process of any tissues it encounters.


  1. The 25th Anniversary of Laser Vision Correction in the United States. (March 2021). Clinical Ophthalmology.
  2. Anesthesia Risks. American Society of Anesthesiologists.
  3. Enhancing the Speed of Visual Recovery After LASIK. (January 2014). Cataract and Refractive Surgery Today.
  4. Laser In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK). (July 2022). StatPearls.

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