LASIK Risks And Complications

LASIK and other types of laser eye surgery, such as PRK and LASEK, have excellent safety profiles and very high success rates. They are designed to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and can allow you to live without glasses or contacts.

LASIK surgery best for mild/moderate myopia, hyperopia and/or astigmatism, adequate corneal thickness.

LASIK Procedure Facts
Procedure time about 10 minutes per eye
Typical results 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses
Recovery time a few days to several weeks for vision to stabilize
Cost about $1,500 to $3,500 per eye

Sight-threatening complications such as significant loss of vision from LASIK surgery are exceptionally unusual, and lots of side effects and laser eye surgery complications can be resolved with additional surgery or medical treatment.

Like other surgery, however, there are potential risks, side effects and constraints you need to be fully familiar with before choosing to go through the procedure (or any kind of procedure, for that matter). Choosing a skilled and knowledgeable LASIK eye surgeon can help in reducing these risks and enable you to achieve the best possible results from laser eye surgery.

The primary step is to determine if you are an excellent candidate for vision correction surgery. Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive diagnostic eye examination to identify your suitability for LASIK surgery. He or she will evaluate: the shape and density of your cornea; your refractive mistakes and pupil size; the moistness of your eyes (to look for dry eye syndrome); your basic health and medical history; and any medications you are taking.

Even if you are not an excellent candidate for LASIK, don’t stress– you may still be able to have your vision repaired with other vision correction surgery such as PRK, LASEK or implantable lenses.

LASIK Eye Surgery Risk Factors And Limitations

Not everybody is an appropriate prospect for LASIK eye surgery. Particular conditions and anatomical elements can increase your risk of an unwanted result or limit optimum LASIK results. These include:

  • Too thin or irregular corneas
  • Large pupils
  • High refractive mistake
  • Unsteady vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Your age
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have certain degenerative or active autoimmune disorders

LASIK Side Effects And Complications

Countless Americans have actually had LASIK eye surgery to fix their vision given that it was presented in the United States more than 20 years ago, and knowledgeable LASIK cosmetic surgeons report that serious problem rates can be held listed below 1 percent.

Complications Symptoms Treatments
Incomplete corrections (undercorrection, overcorrection, residual astigmatism) or regression of effect Blurry, less-than-perfect vision Glasses or contact lenses; eye drops; re-treatment with laser
Decentered ablations Visual aberrations Eye drops; re-treatment with laser
Oversize pupils Visual aberrations Eye drops; re-treatment with laser
Haze Visual aberrations Eye drops; re-treatment with laser
Irregular flap (folds, wrinkles, striae) Visual aberrations Surgical correction; second laser procedure
Dry eye Dry, itchy or scratchy eyes, often with redness and sense of foreign object in eye, and sometimes pain Prescription dry eye medication; artificial tears; punctal occlusion (blockage of tear ducts in order to retain tear film on eye), oral flaxseed oil
Diffuse lamellar keratitis (eye inflammation) Visual aberrations Eye drops; surgical rinsing of cells if severe
Epithelial ingrowth Visual aberrations Surgical removal of epithelium
Infection Redness, oozing of eyes, sometimes pain Eye drops; oral medications

Typical risks of lasik surgery are noted below. Most of these issues can be resolved with medical treatment or additional “improvement” surgery.

Risks of LASIK Surgery

Temporary discomfort and vision disruptions. Discomfort during the first couple of days following LASIK surgery, such as moderate inflammation and light sensitivity, is normal and to be anticipated. During the first few weeks or months you likewise may experience: halos; glare and starbursts in low-light environments, especially at night; dry eye symptoms; hazy vision; and reduced sharpness of vision. In the vast bulk of cases, these problems are temporary and disappear completely within three to 6 months.

Flap complications. The LASIK procedure involves the development of a thin hinged flap on the front surface area of the cornea. This is lifted during surgery for laser reshaping of the eye. The flap is then changed to form a natural plaster.

If the LASIK flap is not made correctly, it might fail to adhere effectively to the eye’s surface area or tiny wrinkles called striae (STRIE-ee) might develop in the flap. These flap complications can cause optical aberrations and distorted vision.

Studies show that flap complications take place in from 0.3 to 5.7 percent of LASIK treatments, inning accordance with the April 2006 issue of American Journal of Ophthalmology. In a research study of 3,009 consecutive LASIK surgeries performed August 2002 through July 2009 utilizing a femtosecond laser for flap creation, flap complications occurred in less than one-half of 1 percent (0.37 percent) of these procedures, and all complications were effectively handled within the exact same surgical session.

Again, bear in mind that you can reduce your risk of LASIK complications by picking a reliable, experienced eye surgeon.

Some problems connected with LASIK flap complications consist of:

  • Irregular astigmatism. This is brought on by an unequally curved corneal surface area. Irregular astigmatism also can take place from laser correction that is not focused effectively on the eye or from irregular recovery. Resulting symptoms might consist of double vision (diplopia) or “ghost images.” In these cases, the eye might require re-treatment or enhancement surgery.
  • Epithelial ingrowth. This is when cells from the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) grow under the flap after LASIK surgery. In most cases, epithelial ingrowth is self-limiting and causes no problems. But in some cases (reported to be 1 to 2 percent of LASIK procedures), symptoms of discomfort and/or blurred vision can take place, and additional surgery is needed to raise the flap and remove the epithelial cells.
  • Diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK). Nicknamed “Sands of the Sahara,” this is swelling under the LASIK flap that may have several causes. Some swelling of the cornea after LASIK surgery is normal. But if it is uncontrolled, as in DLK, it can hinder recovery and cause vision loss. If DLK happens, it generally responds to therapies such as antibiotics and topical steroids. Also, the flap might need to be raised and cleaned up for elimination of inflammatory cells and to prevent tissue damage.
  • Keratectasia or keratoconus. This is a very uncommon bulging of the eye’s surface that can occur if excessive tissue is eliminated from the cornea during LASIK or if the cornea prior to LASIK is weak as evidenced from corneal topography mapping. Rarely does keratoconus establish after LASIK without any known risk factors.

Improvement laser surgery is generally not ideal, and gas permeable contact lenses or corneal implants (Intacs) may be prescribed to hold the cornea in location, or a treatment called corneal collagen crosslinking may be performed to reinforce the cornea.

Dry eyes after LASIK. Some people who have LASIK surgery experience a decline in tear production that can cause eye pain and blurred vision. Nearly half of all LASIK patients experience some degree of temporary dry eye syndrome, according to the April 2006 issue of American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Dry eye syndrome after LASIK surgery generally is temporary and can be successfully treated with lubricating eye drops or other measures.

Dry eye issues generally disappear when healing of the eye is total, which can take up to 6 months. People who currently have severe dry eye typically are gotten rid of as LASIK candidates.

Significant undercorrection, overcorrection or regression. Not everybody will accomplish 20/20 vision after LASIK eye surgery, and contact lenses or eyeglasses for some or all activities may still be needed in rare cases. If the laser eliminates too much or too little corneal tissue, or your eye’s healing reaction is not typical, your visual result will be less than ideal.

One possible reason for a less-than-perfect result is that your eyes did not respond to laser eye surgery in a predictable way. Another possible cause is that your eyesight might have been optimal shortly after LASIK however regressed in time due to “over-healing.”.

Most of the times, a considerable undercorrection or regression can be successfully treated with additional laser vision correction after your cosmetic surgeon verifies your recurring refractive mistake is stable.

Eye infection. Infections seldom take place after LASIK. Since the corneal flap functions as a natural bandage, eye infections take place less frequently after LASIK than after flap-free corneal refractive treatments like PRK. Still, it is essential to use medicated eye drops as directed after your LASIK procedure to prevent infection and control inflammation as your eyes recover.

How Common Are LASIK Complications?

The safety and efficiency of LASIK surgery continues to improve, thanks to progressively sophisticated technology, surgical ability and optimal patient selection.

Complications usually were more typical in the early years of LASIK, when research studies in the late 1990s suggested that approximately 5 percent of people undergoing laser vision correction experienced some type of issue. Nowadays, this number is under 1 percent for major complications.

A worldwide evaluation of LASIK released in 2009 revealed that more than 95 percent of people who had LASIK surgery in between 1995 and 2003 were satisfied with their result.

Public confidence in LASIK has actually grown in recent years due to the solid success rate of LASIK surgery results. The United States armed force also has actually embraced widespread use of laser eye surgery to reduce dependence of troops on restorative eyeglasses. Since 2008, more than 224,000 military personnel had actually gone through laser vision correction. Considering that the procedure first was introduced in the military in 2000, scientists have actually carried out more than 45 research studies relating to safety and effectiveness of LASIK and other treatments.

LASIK outcomes have actually been extremely favorable. Many military patients see 20/20 or much better after the procedure without restorative glasses, and the rate of complications has actually been very low. Inning accordance with one study, only one in 112,500 patients required medical special needs retirement due to complications from laser vision correction during this eight-year period.

In another study, 100 percent of pilots and other aircraft workers from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps who underwent customized (wavefront-guided) LASIK obtained 20/20 uncorrected visual acuity within two weeks after surgery.

When questioned about their satisfaction one month after surgery, 95 percent of these patients stated the procedure was handy to their efficiency, and 100 percent stated they would recommend it to other pilots. Research study outcomes existed at the 2008 ASCRS yearly meeting.

Laser eye surgery has successfully dealt with millions of patients and has high patient satisfaction rates. However, as with any surgery, LASIK involves possible complications. It is important for you to weigh the advantages and risks before opting to proceed with surgery.

Reyus Mammadli (Eyexan Team Leader) / author of the article
Bachelor in biomedical and electrical apparatus and systems. For more than 20 years he has been studying methods to improve health using affordable and safe methods. Collaborates with eye care charity organization of the CCP. Specialization is a vision correction by laser surgery, including LASIK.
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