In our previous post, we discussed how LASIK eye surgery is a relatively safe procedure. LASIK surgeries have a 96% success rate, much higher than that of most common surgeries. However, all surgical procedures come with risks. In order to help you make an informed decision about LASIK, we will discuss some of these below.
During the first few weeks or months following your procedure, you may experience temporary discomfort and vision disturbances such as mild irritation, light sensitivity, halos, glare and starbursts in low-light environments, dry eye symptoms; hazy vision; and reduced vision clarity. In the vast majority of cases, these problems are temporary and will disappear completely within three to six months.
During laser eye surgery, your eye surgeon will create a thin, hinged flap on the front surface of your cornea, and lift it to reshape 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 develop microscopic wrinkles called striae (STRIE-ee). These flap complications can cause optical aberrations and distorted vision. However, flap complications only occur in .37 percent of procedures, according to the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
Irregular astigmatism is when the corneal surface is unequally curved. This condition is usually caused by laser correction that is not centered properly on the eye, or from irregular healing. Resulting symptoms may include double vision or “ghost images.” In these cases, the eye may need re-treatment or enhancement surgery.
This rare condition occurs when cells from the outer layer of the cornea, or epithelium, grow under the flap after LASIK surgery. In most cases, epithelial ingrowth is self-limiting, and causes no problems. However, in about 1 to 2 percent of LASIK procedures, it can result in discomfort and blurred vision, and additional surgery is required to lift the flap and remove the epithelial cells.
Nicknamed “Sands of the Sahara,” this is an inflammation under the LASIK flap. While some inflammation of the cornea after LASIK surgery is normal, DLK is extreme and can cause vision loss. Luckily, however, DLK usually responds to therapies such as antibiotics and topical steroids. The flap may also need to be lifted and cleaned for removal of inflammatory cells.
When considering these risks, it is important to understand that LASIK outcomes have been overwhelmingly positive. When questioned about their satisfaction one month after surgery, 95 percent of patients report that the procedure was helpful and effective. Laser eye surgery has successfully treated millions of patients since its FDA approval in 1996, and over 700,000 procedures are performed each year. If you have more questions or concerns about laser eye surgery, request a consultation appointment with our Raleigh optometrists here.