Can You Blink During Laser Eye Surgery?

Can You Blink During Laser Eye Surgery?

It’s high time we answered this one!  It is one of the most common concerns of patients looking to undergo laser eye surgery.  And we understand.  Thankfully, the process has been built with the patient in mind. The comfort, ease and outcome for the patient is at the forefront of decision making.  Something simple like blinking could never get in your way.

What do we do to stop you from blinking?

speculum to stop blink

In order to keep the eyelids open, a small metal medical device called a speculum is used to separate the eyelids.  It looks like a small clip and may have an adjustable side to hold the lids firmly apart. Firstly, Dr Furness adds anaesthetic eye drops to the treatment eye which will numb the eyeball. The eye is then thoroughly cleansed with chlorhexidine which is an antiseptic and disinfectant. Your eyelashes will be gently taped to ensure they are not in the way of the laser. This is how each eye is prepped prior to the laser being applied to the cornea.

This process is relevant to all laser eye procedures, whether that be SMILE, LASIK or PRK.

Will you still have the urge to blink?

Yes, the urge to blink will remain. Dr Furness encourages you to allow the blink urge as it will not affect or interrupt your treatment with the clip in.  Blinking is a natural, involuntary movement and to discourage it, would potentially cause you un-necessary anxiety during your surgery.  Cool and calm patients is always the goal!

Will your eyes become very dry if you cannot blink?

Throughout your procedure, saline solution (a sterile salt/water mix) will be used to hydrate the cornea and clean the eye. Applying energy to the eye via the laser will cause some minor dry eye effects following your procedure.  This can be treated with lubricating eye drops anywhere from 2-4 times per day depending on the magnitude of the dryness. Keeping the eye open during the procedure is not the cause of post-operative dry eyes.

What are you more likely to do that could effect your surgery?blink when sneeze

There are some things that a patient could do that might have the potential to effect their outcome. Coughing and sneezing during surgery can cause a large jerking motion whilst in a tight space under the laser head. It can also send mucous/saliva particles flying at high speed into the air and into the sterile environment of the surgical theatre.

One of the primary surgical objectives is to reduce the possibility of infection to the highest degree possible.  Dr Furness advises each patient prior to surgery that if you feel the urge to sneeze or cough, to advise him. He can then swiftly provide a safe setting in which to do so with no repercussions to your procedure and outcome.

If you are sick in the lead up to surgery, please advise your surgeon. The likelihood is that your procedure will be rescheduled for a time that you are feeling better.  If you do not advise of any sickness and arrive on the day for your surgery, you run the risk of your surgery being cancelled.  This is not the disappointment we want for any patient on the day of surgery.

Blink rate following surgery…

As a nation of people who spend a large portion of time on computers, tablets and smart phones, we have adopted a bad habit (unbeknownst to us) of not blinking enough.  We often remind patients following surgery about the importance of blinking as it can reduce the rate of dry eyes. Blinking cleans and renews your tear film which is the smooth, moist layer covering your eyeballs. Your tears and tear film are made up of mucus, water and oil. The tear film also contains amino acids and nutrients that nourish the cells in the cornea, which is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye.

Safe to say… blinking is pretty important for our eye health whether we have had surgery to our eyes or not.

The most common statement we hear from our patients after they’ve had their laser eye surgery procedure is, “I wish I had done this sooner!”  You cannot regain the time you’ve been wearing glasses or contact lenses, but you can make the choice to find out if you are eligible for visual freedom.

Please see other laser eye surgery blogs such as:

Laser Eye Surgery Cost

Why You Might be Unsuitable for Laser Eye Surgery

All about third generation laser eye surgery

Why Laser Eye Surgery Should be Put on Hold During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding


**None of the information in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.**