Millions of Americans have had LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision since it was introduced in the United States several decades ago. Although LASIK has an excellent safety profile and a very high success rate, there are potential risks to consider. Sight-threatening complications such as significant loss of vision from LASIK surgery are extremely rare, and many side effects and laser eye surgery complications can be resolved with additional surgery or medical treatment.
The first step is to determine if you are a good candidate for vision correction surgery. Your doctor in San Clemente will perform a thorough diagnostic eye exam to determine your suitability for LASIK surgery.
He will evaluate:
- The shape and thickness of your cornea
- Your refractive errors and pupil size
- The moistness of your eyes (to check for dry eye syndrome)
- Your general health and medical history
- Any medications you are taking
Common LASIK risks and complications to be aware of:
Temporary discomfort and vision disturbances. Discomfort during the first few days following LASIK surgery, such as mild irritation and light sensitivity, is normal and to be expected. During the first few weeks or months you also may experience: halos; glare and starbursts in low-light environments, especially at night; dry eye symptoms; hazy vision; and reduced sharpness of vision. In most cases, these are temporary and disappear completely within 3-6 months.
Flap complications. The LASIK procedure involves the creation of a thin, hinged flap on the front surface of the cornea. This is lifted during surgery for laser reshaping of the eye. The flap is then replaced to form a natural bandage. If the LASIK flap is not made correctly, it may fail to adhere properly to the eye’s surface or microscopic wrinkles called striae (STRIE-ee) could develop in the flap. These flap complications can cause optical aberrations and distorted vision.
Dry eyes after LASIK. Some people who have LASIK surgery experience a decrease in tear production that can cause eye discomfort and blurred vision. Dry eye syndrome after LASIK surgery is usually temporary and can be effectively treated with lubricating eye drops or other measures. Dry eye problems usually disappear when healing of the eye is complete, which can take up to 6 months. People who already have severe dry eye usually are eliminated as LASIK candidates.
Significant undercorrection, overcorrection or regression. Not everyone will achieve 20/20 vision after LASIK eye surgery, and contact lenses or eyeglasses for some or all activities may still be required in very rare cases. If the laser removes too much or too little corneal tissue, or your eye’s healing response is not typical, your visual outcome will be less than optimal. One possible cause of a less-than-perfect outcome is that your eyes did not respond to laser eye surgery in a predictable manner. Another possible cause is that your eyesight may have been optimal shortly after LASIK but regressed over time due to over-healing. In most cases, a significant undercorrection or regression can be successfully treated with additional laser vision correction after your surgeon confirms your residual refractive error is stable.
Eye infection. Infections rarely occur after LASIK because the corneal flap acts as a natural bandage. Still, it is very important to use medicated eye drops as directed after your LASIK procedure to avoid infection and control inflammation as your eyes heal.
Choosing a skilled and experienced LASIK eye surgeon can help reduce these risks and enable you to achieve the best possible results from laser eye surgery. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors to discuss if LASIK is right for you, contact Harvard Eye Associates at 949-951-2020 or harvardeye.com today.