Is LASIK Safe?

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.

Procedure timeabout 10 minutes per eye
Typical results20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses
Recovery timea few days to several weeks for vision to stabilize
Costabout $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.

Is LASIK Surgery Safe?

More than 20 million LASIK surgeries have been carried out in the U.S. with very high client complete satisfaction in visual outcomes. The high rate of client satisfaction, more than 96 percent, according to the most recent medical data, is due in part to the exceptionally low risk of problems from the surgery. Based upon the research into and scientific experience with LASIK, the rate of problems from LASIK eye surgery is approximated to be less than 1 percent, which makes it one of the safest elective surgical procedures readily available today.

Another reality patients discover a great deal of convenience in is that LASIK is among the most studied elective procedures carried out today:

  • From 1993-2005, more than 9,000 patients took part in FDA clinical trials evaluating LASIK security and outcomes.
  • Ever since a remarkable quantity of medical research study into LASIK has actually been carried out, to date more than 7,000 peer-reviewed released studies verify the treatment is both safe and efficient in addition to check out other crucial aspects of LASIK.
  • This large body of clinical evidence includes studies that assist improve what makes a patient a good or bad prospect for the procedure and methods and technologies that can lower the potential for side effects such as dry eye, glare, and halos.

How Safe is LASIK Eye Surgery?

From an analytical viewpoint, an enormous quantity of medical information clearly addresses the concern: How safe is LASIK? A few of the most engaging information points consist of:

  • A recent analysis of studies comparing rates of infection between contact lens usage and LASIK discovered that a person year of using prolonged wear of soft contact lenses caused three times as many cases of microbial keratitis than LASIK.
  • In a research study assessing the outcomes of 58,653 treatments, less than 1 percent,.61%, of patients lost two lines (of the eye chart) of best remedied visual acuity.
  • As a point for reference, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limit for security is less than 5 percent, verifying LASIK far surpasses the requirement for safety.
  • In fact, LASIK has actually never ever been the main, exclusive reason for the loss of sight.

LASIK is a safe and reliable alternative for vision correction. Having issues about the security of the surgery and your eyesight is normal. You owe it to yourself and your vision to look into the procedure thoroughly, so you totally comprehend the risks and advantages. For those who are weighing their vision correction alternatives, they might have an interest in the technologies that go into making LASIK a safe procedure.

What Makes LASIK Safe?

LASIK uses advanced computer-driven laser innovation to improve the cornea with tiny precision. The high degree of accuracy and precision afforded by this combination of innovations helps make sure patient safety.

  • Your individual anatomy and vision are measured in high definition information during the pre-operative assessment of your eyes. That data is then set by the surgeon into the LASIK platform to tailor the treatment plan to your special requirements.
  • Technology first developed by NASA to help automate the docking of satellites to the Space Shuttle is utilized by the LASIK platform to track your eye movements– thousands of times per 2nd– allowing the device to adjust as required to guarantee correct application of the treatment.
  • Many patients are worried about moving throughout the treatment. The tracking system developed into the laser that follows your eye will also momentarily turn off the laser if you move significantly (such as a cough or sneeze). Once you are safely rearranged under the laser, the procedure can resume.
  • The LASIK treatment is carried out using the excimer laser– which emits a cool beam of ultraviolet light– to get rid of microscopic pieces of corneal tissue (the cornea is the external structure of the eye) and improve the surface area, permitting the eye to focus plainly again.
  • Today, numerous surgeons use an accuracy instrument called a femtosecond laser to develop the corneal flap at the start of LASIK surgery. It runs at ultra-fast speeds and utilizes an incredibly brief pulse duration (determined in femtoseconds, hence the name) to develop the flap without interfering with the surrounding corneal tissue.

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.

ComplicationsSymptomsTreatments
Incomplete corrections (undercorrection, overcorrection, residual astigmatism) or regression of effectBlurry, less-than-perfect visionGlasses or contact lenses; eye drops; re-treatment with laser
Decentered ablationsVisual aberrationsEye drops; re-treatment with laser
Oversize pupilsVisual aberrationsEye drops; re-treatment with laser
HazeVisual aberrationsEye drops; re-treatment with laser
Irregular flap (folds, wrinkles, striae)Visual aberrationsSurgical correction; second laser procedure
Dry eyeDry, itchy or scratchy eyes, often with redness and sense of foreign object in eye, and sometimes painPrescription 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 aberrationsEye drops; surgical rinsing of cells if severe
Epithelial ingrowthVisual aberrationsSurgical removal of epithelium
InfectionRedness, oozing of eyes, sometimes painEye 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.

Common Complication after LASIK Eye 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.

Last updated on August 1st, 2019

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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Ophthalmology: Health of Your Eyes
Comments: 4
  1. Dr. Thomas Perkins

    As a LASIK surgeon and likewise a LASIK patient (and I think I suffer from the cognitive harshness explained by our ‘Confidential’ buddy below) I can tell you that for the right candidate, LASIK is a terrific procedure. But it is not for everybody.

    When LASIK first came out practically 20 years back, many cosmetic surgeons were pushing the envelope to see how much correction they might achieve. Gradually, however, it was kept in mind that excessive flattening of the cornea or too much elimination of tissue might delegate unfavorable effects, from bad quality of night vision to more major issues such as thinning of the cornea known as ectasia.

    So as time passed, the portion of patients considered ‘good candidates’ in fact reduced, at least in the minds of the majority of reliable surgeons. As a result most LASIK surgeons begin fixing a limit around -8.00 diopters. Any more than that and there might be too much elimination of tissue. This number may be even less if the client’s cornea is thinner than average.

    Historically, cosmetic surgeons would look at how thick the flap would be, how much tissue would be eliminated, and then compute the residual thickness of the cornea below the flap. If this was at least 250 microns, then you were most likely safe. However, even with this ‘tried and true’ rule, there were still patients who had problems.

    A current meta-analysis has actually now recommended remaining within a specific portion of tissue removed, instead of an outright number. This might be more conservative. However there is sadly no best method of anticipating who might have an issue.

    The best thing to do then is to be conservative. That might mean for patients greater than -8.00, they might want to consider another choice: surface ablation such as PRK (however high corrections need treatment with Mitomycin C to reduce the possibility of scarring), phakic IOL such as ICL or refractive lens exchange with a pseudophakic IOL (however these are more invasive and have possibly greater dangers associated with them. Lastly, the last choice is not to have surgery at all.

  2. Lora Cummings, MD

    Lasik surgery is incredibly popular now-a-days. It helps you eliminate numerous eyeproblems. The operation aka situ keratomileusis, utilizes a laser to work its way underneath the flap of the cornea to help reshape the cornea itself. If carried out in a proper method lasik eye surgery can be useful to cure specific vision troubles. While in most of the cases, lasik surgery yields wanted results, there are some failures too. So, prior to opting for a lasik surgery you should be aware of some risks associated with it. Here I am discussing about some common pitfalls of Lasik surgery.

    1. Loss of Vision

    According to Food and Drug Administration website, fda.gov laser eye surgery may trigger loss of vision. In some cases this loss of vision cant be conquered even by the use of glasses, contact lenses or further surgery.

    2. Serious Dry Eye

    Another risk aspect of laser eye surgery recognized by the FDA is permanently dry eyes. The factor behind is that after the surgery the patients can not produce adequate tears. This might be treated by frequent use of eye drops or in many cases, usage of punctal eye plugs.

    3. Under or Over Correction

    After laser surgery not every client is expected to attain 20/20 vision in each eye, according to reports found in the Eye Surgery Education Council’s site. While most of people see instantaneous outcomes after only just one procedure there are others who are required to do 2 in order to fix the difficulty and see any results. This second operation will be used to focalize the vision and is basically for the people with genuinely intensive prescriptions.

    4. Still Need Contacts And Glasses

    You might still require glasses to bring your vision to 20/20 after you are done with lasic surgery. Unless you have one eye fixed for farsightedness and another eye corrected for nearsightedness (a condition called monovision), you will require reading glasses after the surgery as you required prior to the surgery.

    5. Non Permanent Results

    Though this is very rare case, however not unusual. There are individuals who have struggled with vision problems after a number of years because the surgery was performed. This is common for aged individuals who are losing vision due to old age. another Lasik eye surgery is recommended for them.

    6. Visual Aberrations

    Visual aberrations specify visual effects that can happen during the lessening of visual quality and LASIK surgery. The difficulty one confronts with this consist of the difference in the refractive power in between both eyes, aniseikonia, the difference in the size of the image that is between both eyes, hazy vision, double vision, and the change of vision during the day time.

    7. corneal estasia

    According to the Canadian government’s Health Canada site, hc-sc. gc.ca, corneal estasia is another harmful problem of laser eye surgery. If the patient has too thin corneal tissue, cutting it might deteriorate the cornea, causing it to bulge from the surface of the eyeball. In this cases, a cornea transplantation may be required.

    8. Inflammation and infection

    Lasik surgery postures another two threats– Inflammation and infection. After surgery your physician will recommend you to take steroids to control inflammation. Whereas, antibiotic eye drops will assist you avoid infection. You must beware about its use. usage eye drops precisely as prescribed for a duration of days or weeks.

    9. Flap can be totally cut off

    Throughout LASIK laser eye surgery, a hinged flap is cut into the surface of the eyeball. According to the FDA, one danger throughout surgery is that the flap can be completely cut off and the surgery should be stopped without accomplishing correction. Depending upon the damage and how the flap heals, even more surgery may not be possible.

    10. Issue in night vision

    Some patients have reported about weak night vision after they went through laser eye surgery. They see increased glare or halos around intense objects during the night.

  3. Harry Forrest

    I know lots of eye care experts who have had the surgery done themselves, the same people who would have ruled out the surgery just 5 years earlier. So the innovation have actually obviously advanced enough that a lot more individuals want to take the dangers now. I believe LASIK is safe enough and I will suggest it to my friends without doubt!

  4. dr. Keisuke Ato

    No surgery is 100% safe, therefore one ought to learn about the threats and problems included. Typically patient’s role in surgery is neglected and if taken seriously i.e preparing appropriately prior to surgery and carefully following post-surgery guideline many of the threats can be reduced.

    Some patients are bad candidates for LASIK surgery for a range of reasons, and are at a higher threat for issues. You may NOT be a good candidate for LASIK if:

    — Your spectacles or contact lens prescription has actually changed in the previous year.
    — You are under 18 years old.
    — You have a disease or are on medication that compromises injury healing.
    — You take medication that affects your vision.
    — You have a disease, such as diabetes, that triggers hormones to vary.
    — You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
    — You have had specific eye diseases or injuries.
    — You have large pupils, thin corneas or dry eyes.
    — You have had previous refractive surgery.

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