The side effects of laser eye surgery include double vision, dry eye, and halos around objects at night. While serious vision-threatening complications are minimal, there is no guarantee of 20/20 vision, and the long-term safety of the procedure is still unknown.
There are several different kinds laser eye surgery, some examples being PRK, LASIK, LASEK, and Epi-LASIK. One of the most common is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) vision correction surgery. It involves reshaping of a person’s cornea permanently, with the purpose of improving vision and minimizing dependency on glasses or contact lenses. This surgery, which is performed for all degrees of nearsightedness, is carried out using an excimer laser, which the Food and Drug Administration first approved for use in LASIK procedures in November 1998. Around 95% patients seem completely satisfied, with the rest do complain of some issues.
Halo Effect: Among the risks, this one is more commonly experienced during the recovery period. This condition, in which a patient sees a halo or a glow around lights, can make tasks like night driving very difficult or even impossible. It is scientifically explained that as the pupil enlarges, a second faded image is produced by the untreated peripheral cornea. The halo effect is pronounced in dim light.
Undercorrection/Overcorrection: A fairly more common complication is a patient not obtaining perfect vision after the surgery. Depending on the case, a second procedure may have to be performed to rectify the problem. Alternately, a patient can resume wearing glasses.
Infection: The risk of infection exists after any surgery, but the chances of a person developing a corneal infection post LASIK is less than 0.1%. Though, this does not take away from the fact that it happens occasionally. A patient who gets an infection will experience discomfort and delayed healing.
Regression: An unfortunate outcome of this surgery is that the effect of the surgery may start gradually wearing off over a period of months or years. This means that after bearing the heavy cost and going through the painful ordeal, one may still be back to square one eventually.
Flap Damage or Loss: During the LASIK procedure, a thin film of corneal tissue is cut from the outer layer of the eyeball. However, a small portion is left attached so that it forms a flap. The flap is lifted, for the laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. One of the risks is the possibility of the entire flap getting separated, and consequently getting detached.
Distorted Flap: Another side effect is the possibility of the corneal flap not healing or attaching properly. This can lead to distorted corneal shape, resulting in a decrease of best-corrected vision.
Corneal Haze: The chances of this occurring during the healing process are slight. Usually, it can only be observed by an eye doctor with the assistance of a microscope, and is unlikely to have little or any effect on the patient’s final vision. This complication can be corrected by further laser treatment. Only excessive corneal haze affects vision.
The pre-surgery procedure of signing a consent form acknowledging all the risks has to be done before a laser eye surgery. To minimize the side effects, one should be over 21 years of age, have healthy eyes free from retinal problems, corneal scars, and any other eye diseases.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.