Freaking out at the Eye Doc's


brenda-k-sml_2_4Today I had a procedure done on my right eye – the eye doctor removed a conjunctival cyst that had grown big enough to obscure my vision a bit. It was not a big deal; it took about five minutes, max, and no stitches were necessary. Basically, the doctor snipped the cyst, which looked like a clear bubble, and removed it from my eyeball. Then he cauterized the blood vessels. But in the process, I had to have my eye numbed with drops, and then they put a white drape over my face, with the eye area open, and inserted a speculum in my eye to hold it open. This is where it started to all go wrong.

They didn’t tell me about the drape, or the lights in my eye. I really thought I was going to die for a moment. I thought of prisoners of war, and how they often are subjected to questioning under hot, bright lights. This was like that, probably.

I’m terribly claustrophobic, and I started to panic. The doctor and the nurse both apparently knew this was a typical reaction. They were obviously watching for it. The nurse told me to breath deep and relax, and the doctor told me it was almost over, but I thought I was going to die. 

After I came home I surfed the web, looking for evidence that this is something that happens to people. I found nothing. Maybe I am not looking in the right place. But surely I’m not the only person who freaks out during eye surgery. Now I’m wondering what will happen the next time, should I decide to have cataract surgery down the road. If anyone reading this has ever had eye surgery and freaked out, please respond. I’d like to know about your experiences and compare notes. 

As a postscript, I have to say the the procedure was successful. I can’t even see any real redness – a little, but nothing major. I can see well, and the eye doesn’t even hurt. The doctor prescribed antibiotic drops for two weeks, but I can see better right now than I’ve been able to see in years. I guess it was worth a little scare.


The eye, one day after surgery. Looks good!

The eye, one day after surgery. Looks good!

6 thoughts on “Freaking out at the Eye Doc's

  1. It’s very odd that your doctor didn’t prepare you. I shadowed an ear/nose/throat surgeon, and post-op, he would always walk each patient through the whole procedure. If they knew that people tend to panic, it would make sense for them to warn you.
    I was also curious, how long afterwards your eye was numb?
    I had my wisdom teeth removed this summer, and they kept me awake the entire time so that I could keep my mouth open without any scary devices. I wasn’t aware that was going to happen, and I freaked out a little. I was kind of hoping they’d just put me out, and I’d wake up when it was done. I was pretty loopy, and it was quite the experience, floating a bit above the chair, giggling due to nitrous oxide, and then watching the surgery go on in the reflection of my doctor’s glasses. I kind of liked it, in a strange way. I think the eye would be even scarier… brr…

  2. Oh, the eye was only numb for a little while. That wasn’t a problem. The problem was that I wasn’t prepared for the sheet over my face. And I was suffering from the flu already and couldn’t breathe very well, and it scared me. It wasn’t painful except for the lights. The lights in my eye was excruciatingly painful for some reason. I’m sure they didn’t mean not to tell me; how could they know I would freak out? It is very busy practice, and there were dozens of people in the waiting room when I got there. But they take everyone in order according to your appointment and they do it like clockwork. He is a very good eye surgeon. That is why I go to him. The dentists’ comparison is similar. But I didn’t get the laughing gas.

  3. I had the same type of cyst removed from my eye just yesterday! Took just a few minutes. My dr didn’t put a drape over my face…he just used that thing to hold the eye open after it had been numbed and started snipping away! I didn’t feel a thing. Once it was done, my eye was very bloodshot but it had totally cleared up after about 15 minutes. No eye patch, using drops till my followup next week. I am on the west coast of Florida and my surgeon is Dr. Vipal Shah at St Luke’s Eye Institute in Tarpon Springs.

  4. I am schedule for next week to remove the question long did you had to stay from work after surgery?

  5. Hi, Manuel. Don’t worry. I was able to drive myself home and had no down time. The doctor gave me some eyedrops to put in my eye for two weeks, but other than a little redness for a day or two, I was able to go about my usual schedule. You will be fine.
    I just have a bit of claustrophobia, especially around my eyes, and I also think I was having flashbacks to when I was three years old and was in an accident and had to have my eyes flushed and debris pulled out of my eyes; also, one eyelid was cut and they had to stitch it back and then patch the eye for a few days; I think I was just panicking over nothing.

  6. On December 1 I had cataract surgery on the right eye and on December 15, on the left. The procedures were done at Grove Integris Hospital Outpatient Surgery by Dr. Kevin Toller, an ophthalmologist with 20 years experience here, and both procedures went without a hitch with local anesthesia and a saline iv drip boosted with a relaxant (“I don’t give a d____ medicine”). The procedure lasted no more than five minutes and from arrival at to dismissal from the hospital we’re talking two hours or less!!! A transparent shield over the eye is worn for 24 hours, only removed to apply eye drops (4 times daily) and driving is forbidden until after the post-surgical exam the day following the procedure. You can read about the procedure on the web–but I assure you I was as squeamish as you until I learned about how simple the procedure is. I now have better vision than I had 30 years ago–no glasses required except to read really “fine print.”

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