The psychology of a refractive surgery patient - LASIK and PRK By Kristina Oneill on January 29, 2014


“Based on a review, worldwide, an average 95.4% of patients were satisfied with their outcome after LASIK surgery. With 16.3 million procedures performed worldwide, and more than a decade of clinical studies and technological innovation, LASIK surgery should be considered among the most successful elective procedures. LASIK surgery compares more favorably with other elective surgical procedures in terms of generally higher satisfaction rates.” (source: British Journal of Clinical Psychology) With this being said there are patients that walk into the surgical suite and are so truly stressed out that they feel so much anxiety and pain during a procedure that is relatively painless and simple.

There have been studies that show that during experimentally induced stress the increase in a patients blood pressure and pulse rate were significantly more pronounced in groups of healthy patients.  Adrenaline can be helpful.  Fear and lack of trust in your surgeon and the procedure however, can make your refractive surgery procedure much more difficult and painful for you.  Many patients actually need Dr. Holzman to be firm with them and guide them through their fear.  


We wish there was an easy way to get the word out that LASIK and PRK are simple procedures in the hands of a skilled surgeon.  It is normal to be afraid before any surgical procedure, but the reality is that it boils down to you being trusting and being mentally prepared and present during your procedure.  In this situation, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. 


Fear causes you to be less able to concentrate and listen to a surgeon who deals with patients like you all day long, five days a week.  When you are so focused on your fear it becomes difficult at best for you to focus and follow instructions.  Fear blocks out in your mind the experience of the surgeon and causes you to become physically reactive-not in a good way.  I cannot tell you how many times after the procedure is completed-no matter how fearful or amped up a patient is before the procedure, they sit up and say  “That was it! that was what I was so fearful of”?  We see about 18 to 22 patients a day and we will hold your hand through the entire process, but you have to do your part. 


Anxiety and mental presence is key for you as the patient.  This blog is not meant to be harsh.  It is meant to say trust.  Do not give into the fear.  You would not make it all the way to Dr. Holzman’s surgical suite unless he was absolutely confident that he can restore your vision.  He often says let go and embrace the procedure.  It is 15 minutes of patient compliance and trust.  Xanax helps too - but this procedure is one that requires your active participation.  When you walk in the surgical suite with trust and be mentally prepared that you can do this and you have the right surgeon, the best technology, and a team that sees you and your anxiety at least 10 to 12 patients like you a day- and we know how to help you through it for the greater good of achieving your best visual outcome, let go and embrace it.  Trust.  Release control to the expert!  We joke about this in our OR but remember this words...Namaste, Breath and Trust.  If you don’t believe me, read some of our patient testimonials on our blog.  I am not making this up.  

You can do this.  You have a lifetime of better vision ahead of you, but you must be an active participant.



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Dr. Andrew Holzman

Andrew E. Holzman, MD, FACS

Andrew E. Holzman, MD, FACS, is one of the most well-respected ophthalmologists in the greater Washington, DC, area. He is regularly sought out by professional athletes, media personalities, and other doctors for laser eye surgery. Dr. Holzman is a member of several prestigious organizations, including:

  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • The American College of Surgeons
  • The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  • The American Medical Association
  • The International Society of Refractive Surgery

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