Eye Surgery Lasik Risks Complications

LASIK complications are unusual, but, like any surgery, LASIK procedures carry possible risks. Most LASIK complications are temporary and self-resolve as the eye heals. On rare occasions, however, a patient may experience serious LASIK complications, including blindness.

Patients should discuss the risks and complications of LASIK surgery with their eye surgeon before undergoing any LASIK procedure. It is important that LASIK patients understand potential LASIK dangers before getting this procedure done.

How Common are LASIK Complications?

Statistics indicate that LASIK problems occur in one to five percent of all LASIK surgeries. Most LASIK complications are either temporary or can be corrected with additional treatment.

Serious LASIK dangers comprise less than one percent of LASIK surgeries, if patients are properly screened. The experience of your particular surgeon greatly influences the chance of LASIK dangers. Therefore, do some research before selecting a surgeon. Choosing an inexperienced surgeon could result in a botched LASIK procedure.

Temporary LASIK Problems

Many risks and complications of LASIK procedures are temporary conditions that resolve themselves in the weeks and months after surgery. Common postoperative LASIK problems include:

  • Dry Eyes: Dry eyes are probably the most common temporary LASIK problem, affecting almost half of all LASIK patients. After surgery, the eye’s sensitivity is reduced, increasing the risk of dry eyes. Symptoms of dry eyes include itchiness, redness, blurry vision and eye crusting. Some people report feeling as if there is a foreign object in the eye. Itchiness can cause further LASIK problems, as rubbing the eye interferes with the healing process. Dry eyes usually resolve themselves within three months of LASIK surgery. Eye drops can provide relief but should be approved by a doctor before use.
  • Halos and Starbursts: Halo or starburst-like glows around lights at night are sometimes reported by LASIK patients. Halos and starbursts occur if the corneal flap does not lie properly on the cornea after surgery. The problem usually disappears within four weeks.
  • Light Sensitivity: One of the most common postoperative LASIK complications, light sensitivity usually resolves a few days after surgery.
  • Reduced Contrast Sensitivity: The ability to clearly see objects may be impaired after LASIK surgery. Reduced contrast sensitivity can be one of the most frustrating temporary LASIK complications, as it can greatly affect night driving. Like many LASIK risks and complications, reduced contrast sensitivity usually clears up after surgery, although it can take up to six months for contrast sensitivity to return to normal.
  • Visual Regression: A loss of visual acuity can occur after surgery, but it is one of the rarer LASIK complications. Caused by a wrinkled corneal flap or corneal hazing, visual regression is usually temporary. Women taking hormone therapy have a higher than normal risk of visual regression.

Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis

Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis (DLK) is one of the most serious postoperative LASIK dangers. Caused by a foreign body trapped beneath the corneal flap, DLK can cause severe vision loss if left untreated. Symptoms of DLK include:

  • blurry vision
  • eye pain
  • light sensitivity
  • the feeling that something is stuck in the eye.

DLK symptoms resemble several other less serious postoperative LASIK problems, such as dry eyes, highlighting the importance of postoperative checkups. Caught early, DLK responds well to treatment.

Permanent LASIK Complications

While most LASIK risks and complications are temporary, dry eyes, halos, light sensitivity, visual regression and reduced contrast sensitivity can be permanent problems in a small number of patients. In such cases, additional treatment or the use of glasses and/or contact lenses is usually enough to resolve the problem.

Other permanent LASIK dangers include astigmatism, over/under correction and keratectasia, an abnormal bulging of the cornea. Keratectasia causes distorted vision. LASIK re-treatment is not possible for keratectasia patients, who must wear rigid contact lenses to correct their vision.

Astigmatism and LASIK Dangers

LASIK surgery permanently changes the shape of the cornea. Although rare, a botched LASIK procedure can cause astigmatism.

Induced astigmatism (astigmatism caused by LASIK complications) may make it impossible for patients to wear contact lenses, and additional surgery or corrective glasses may be required to fix the problem.

Symptoms of induced astigmatism include blurred vision, double vision and ghost images.