LASIK Complications
and Safety

We know, the LASIK procedure can seem a bit scary at first, but OptiLASIK® Laser Vision Correction is fast, safe, and—in almost no time at all—you can finally have the vision you’ve always wanted!

Safety of LASIK Eye Surgery

Corrective laser eye surgery is considered one of the most common elective procedures performed today. And those who undergo it are happy they did. In fact, in a survey of patients who underwent LASIK surgery, an impressive 97 percent said they would recommend the procedure to their friends.

Based on controlled clinical trials conducted in the United States to evaluate the safety and effectiveness, the FDA   FDA: An abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services responsible for determining the Safety and Effectiveness of drugs or medical devices.   approved the LASIK procedure in 1999 and, since then, LASIK has become the most widely performed form of laser vision correction today, with approximately 400,000 Americans undergoing the procedure every year.1 In 93 percent of cases, LASIK patients see at least 20/20 or better following the surgery. Pretty impressive for a procedure that takes only minutes and is virtually painless.

Of course, as with any surgical procedure, there are certain safety issues and complications that you could encounter. Brief yourself on the potential LASIK complications before making any decisions.

LASIK Complications

Laser technology and surgeon skill have advanced significantly over the last 20 years since the LASIK procedure was first FDA-approved in 1999, but no one can completely account for how each eye will heal once the procedure is complete. As with any surgery, there are, in fact, LASIK risks. In addition to the short-term side effects some patients experience after surgery (see After LASIK Eye Surgery), there can be, in some cases, conditions that last longer due to the varied healing processes of individual people.

Below are some of the LASIK complications you should discuss with your surgeon if they develop after the procedure.

  • Reading glasses: Some people may start to need reading glasses following the LASIK procedure, particularly if they were relying on nearsightedness to read without glasses, prior to surgery. They probably suffer from presbyopia,   Presbyopia: A condition in which the eye loses its natural ability to focus properly. Presbyopia is a natural result of aging and causes blurry, close-up vision. Reading glasses or corrective contact lenses are necessary to maintain quality close-range vision once presbyopia has been diagnosed.   a physiological visual condition occurring with age.
  • Lost vision: Occasionally, some LASIK patients will actually see a reduction in their best-corrected vision. In other words, you may not see as well following laser eye surgery as you did with your eyeglasses or contact lenses prior to surgery.
  • Reduced low-light vision: Following their procedure, some LASIK patients may not see as well in reduced light, such as at night or in foggy, hazy conditions. These patients often see halos   Halos: A visual effect, in which a circular flare or hazy ring of light may appear around a headlight or other lighted object.   or a bothersome glare around bright lights, such as headlights.
  • Severe dry eye syndrome: In some cases, LASIK surgery may result in an inability to produce enough tears to keep the eyes moist. Mild dry eye is a side effect that usually disappears within about a week, though some patients may experience these symptoms permanently. When evaluating if laser vision correction is right for you, tell your doctor if you have suffered from dry eyes before or are bothered by contact lenses, going through menopause, or taking birth control pills.
  • Secondary procedures: Some patients may need enhancements to further correct their vision after a LASIK procedure. Occasionally, patients experience changes in their vision, sometimes attributed to the eye's unique healing process, that require an enhancement (retreatment) procedure. In some cases, people have had their vision worsen slightly, requiring a slight increase in the strength of their eyeglass prescription, but this is not common.
  • Eye infections: As with any surgical procedure, there is always a slight risk of an infection. However, the laser beam itself cannot transmit infection. After the procedure, your doctor will probably provide you with prescription eye drops to guard against any post-procedure infection. If you use these drops as directed by your doctor, your risk of infection is slim.
  • The FDA does not monitor each procedure or physician practice. However, the government does require the licensing of surgeons through state and local agencies and regulates medical products and procedure equipment by requiring clinical trials to ensure the safety and effectiveness for each laser.

    For help making informed decisions about choosing the right doctor, continue to the next section.

Next: LASIK Eye Surgeons

References

  1. Approximately 391,376 (2010 estimate) reference/based on Market Scope data for 2010. Accessed November 1, 2010.