Music has always had a therapeutic effect, and has been shown to reduce the need for painkillers during surgery. New research backs that up by discovering music’s effect on patients undergoing eye surgery, finding that people were less anxious and required less sedation after listening to relaxing music.

The researchers, out of Cochin University Hospital in Paris, focused on elective eye surgery — or types of procedures, like Lasik or cataract operations, that don’t treat life-threatening conditions. They examined 62 participants who were divided into different groups to either listen to relaxing music, or no music at all, for 15 minutes before cataract surgery. The patients were awake during the procedures, which tend to create anxiety, something the researchers hoped to alleviate with the music.

It was composed specifically to act as a stress reducer and consisted of instrumental pieces that saw a decrease in tempo over time, as well as instruments quieting down towards the end. There were 16 different types that the patients could choose from, including jazz, flamenco, Cuban, classical, and piano. The participants also completed a surgical fear questionnaire (SFQ) before and after the procedure, which showed the researchers how anxious they were before and after. The control group, or those who didn’t listen to music and only received midazolam, a sedative, also completed the questionnaire.

Patients who listened to music scored 23 out of 100 on the anxiety test (and required less sedatives), while those who didn’t listen to music generally scored around 65 out of 100. After the surgery, the music patients scored 71 out of 100 for postoperative satisfaction, compared to 55 out of 100 for the non-music cases. That’s a pretty significant difference between the two, hinting that relaxing music can have a remarkable effect on us.

The songs used in the study were composed by a French organization called MUSIC CARE, which focuses on creating music used for therapeutic purposes, whether to treat pain, anxiety, or depression.

“Music listening may be considered as an inexpensive, non-invasive, non-pharmacological method to reduce anxiety for patients undergoing elective eye surgery under local anesthesia,” said Dr. Gilles Guerrier, a lead author of the study, in a statement. “The objective is to provide music to all patients before eye surgery. We intend to assess the procedure in other types of surgeries, including orthopedics where regional anesthesia is common. Moreover, post-operative pain may be reduced by decreasing pre-operative anxiety, which is another study we intend to perform.”

Source: Guerrier G, et al. Euroanaesthesia, 2016.