What if I sneeze during LASIK?

1 Jul 2024LASIK Procedures and Options

Since LASIK is performed with a patient awake, people worry about the actions they may take involuntarily during the procedure. What if I twitch by accident? What if I sneeze during LASIK?

The latter is one of the most common questions posed by our patients. LASIK is a delicate procedure after all – and sudden movements never pair well with those!

Understanding LASIK

LASIK or Laser-assisted In Situ Keratomileusis is an eye surgery performed to fix various refractive problems. These include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and even astigmatism.

There are different types of LASIK procedures available, from traditional to Epi-LASIK. You can learn more about them in our previous article, but for now, it should be enough to say that all types reshape the cornea to achieve results.

What if I sneeze during the LASIK procedure?

Please postpone the date of your LASIK surgery if you are having a runny nose, stuffy nose or fever. It is best to have the procedure done when you are not sick. Some people have nose allergies and have a tendency to have either blocked or runny nose. This tends to make the eyes uncomfortable too. It would be good to get treatment for your nose before your LASIK surgery so that your nose is clear on the day of surgery.

If you think that your nose is sensitive and you may sneeze, please let your doctor know. He will let you know when the more crucial period during the surgery is for you not to sneeze. A strong sneeze can move the head quite a bit so try your best not to do a strong sneeze. But these large movements will stop the laser from firing so it will not hurt your eye. Small movements of the eye during the laser procedure will not cause problems. The procedure has several safety measures to prevent involuntary movement from harming you:


Physical stabilisation
Prior to LASIK, your surgeon will prepare you in a way that reduces the chances of movement. First, they will set up a device that gently holds your eyelids open. Next, they will apply numbing drops to your eyes to reduce discomfort and sudden movement.

Eye-tracking systems
The advanced lasers used in LASIK also have built-in safety measures. By tracking your eye position and movement at all times, the machine can make real-time adjustments faster than a person. Movement that goes past the safe tracking capability of the machine triggers a pause in the laser. This means that any sneeze that leads to a large movement will stop the procedure instantly.

The surgeon’s expertise
Another thing that helps with your safety when sneezing during LASIK is your surgeon’s expertise. An experienced surgeon can actually anticipate and manage most minor movements, adjusting or pausing as necessary to keep their patient safe.

Can I sneeze after the procedure?

If your concern has to do with sneezing after LASIK instead (specifically during recovery), rest assured that it’s still generally safe, provided you take these precautions:

  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes after (or even before) you sneeze.
  • Avoid irritant-laden environments. These can cause you to sneeze repeatedly and irritate your healing eye at the same time.

For more advice on how to protect your eyes during LASIK recovery, see our article on what to expect before and after the procedure.

Schedule a consultation about LASIK now

Thanks to the precautions and technology mentioned above, sudden movement during LASIK is less risky than many think. Whether from a sneeze or muscle spasm, twitches aren’t likely to affect the success of the procedure nowadays.

If you’re considering the procedure yourself but still have concerns about it, schedule a consultation with a trusted eye surgeon at our centre. You can learn more about the procedure and address any additional questions or concerns directly.

Call us to enquire or book an appointment for a pre-LASIK assessment today!