Millions of Americans have had LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision since it was introduced in the United States more than 20 years ago, and experienced LASIK surgeons report that serious complication rates can be held below 1 percent.
Despite this, not everyone is a suitable candidate for LASIK eye surgery. Certain conditions and anatomical factors can increase your risk of an undesirable outcome or limit optimal LASIK results. These include:
- Too thin or irregular corneas
- Large pupils
- High refractive error
- Unstable vision
- Dry eyes
- Your age
- If you are pregnant
- If you have certain degenerative or active autoimmune disorders
Like any other surgery, however, there are potential risks, side effects and limitations you should be fully aware of before electing to undergo the procedure. Choosing a skilled and experienced LASIK eye surgeon such as Dr. Malik at Malik Eye Care can help reduce these risks and enable you to achieve the best possible results from laser eye surgery.
Common LASIK complications and side effects are:
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 the vast majority of cases, these problems are temporary and disappear completely within three to six months.
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 could develop in the flap. These flap complications can cause optical deviations and distorted vision.
Infections rarely occur after LASIK. Because the corneal flap acts as a natural bandage, eye infections occur less frequently after LASIK than after flap-free corneal refractive procedures like PRK. 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.
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 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.