LASIK Eye Surgery, like most medical procedures, comes with its attendant hazards. Although a minimally invasive procedure of sorts, since LASIK Eye Surgery targets the eye - one of the most delicate parts of the human body - some risks are naturally present. As with most corrective methods – surgical or otherwise – there are pros and cons to it. Because of its surgical nature, the choice to undergo LASIK Eye Surgery must be made based on its known benefits, but more importantly, after understanding its possible ill-effects. Usually the possibility of complications is minimal when LASIK surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon after a detailed consultation with the interested person. Still, a potential candidate for this procedure ought to be well aware before going under the surgeon’s laser that some of the complications that may arise cannot be predicted or prevented. Here’s some quick education on the subject to enlighten you before the operation theatre lights go on.
Possible Complications From Lasik Eye Surgery
Some of the most common complications seen in patients who have had LASIK eye surgery are glare, halos with night vision and dry eyes. Normally, the side effects of LASIK eye surgery disappear within a few days to a few months after the procedure. However, some side effects persist for longer. In cases where side-effects last more than six months, it is imperative to undergo an eye exam with an eye surgeon and follow through with the suggestions or corrections. Some other possible side effects of LASIK Eye Surgery are:
- Light and Pain Sensitivity: This is a slight nagging sensation of post-operative pain and a decreased tolerance to light for the first few days. It makes the patient want to rub or touch his/her eyes, affecting the healing a little.
- Dry Eyes: A common post-operative side-effect, the dry eyes symptom - a grainy foreign body sensation – causes an itching and redness of the eye. It usually fades away in a period of about one to three months. During this period, the patient must remember to regularly use lubricating eye drops prescribed by the surgeon to help the eyes heal faster and reduce the feeling of dryness.
- Glare, Halos and Starbursts: These occur if the corneal flap does not correctly fit over the designated part of the eye after the surgery for any reason. These side-effects usually go away within the first month after the LASIK procedure, unless they continue. In that case, wearing glasses or additional treatment may be advised to correct it.
- Visual Regression: Decreased visual clarity is usually only temporary and affects the patient only during the first few months after surgery. It is caused by the corneal flap folding or wrinkling. Hormone therapy patients are more prone to this side-effect.
- Contrast Sensitivity Loss: This side-effect affects a patient’s ability to discern between objects, especially in poor light conditions, but is usually known to normalize within six months.
- Over or Undercorrection: Factors such as patient-specific tissue healing can sometimes lead to undercorrection or overcorrection. If a patient’s vision does not vary too much from what was expected, he/she is usually satisfied. But for those whose vision correction varies much more than expected target, they are more likely to seek a second laser treatment (a "retreatment" or "enhancement") to further improve their sight.
- Epithelial Ingrowth: In rare cases, corneal surface cells start growing beneath the corneal flap created during the LASIK surgery. These cells may not create any problem, but can occasionally blur the postoperative vision or cause irritation. This problem is easily treated by the surgeon lifting the flap gently and simply removing these cells.
- Flap Striae: These are wrinkles that sometimes occur in the corneal flap during a LASIK or IntraLASIK procedure, but not in a flapless surgery. These tend to occur more during treatments for cases of acute nearsightedness. Usually, they are not that significant. But if Macrostriae - the larger concentric fingerprint-like patterned wrinkles - occur, mainly due to accidental rubbing or early postoperative trauma course, they need to be treated by lifting the flap and smoothing the wrinkles out with a special device.
LASIK Eye Surgery procedure is proscribed for:
- Pregnant or nursing women
- People under 21 years of age
- People with a previous history of eye surgery (cataract or any other)
- People afflicted by Keratonconus, a condition that alters the shape of the cornea
- People affected by corneal scratching or infection
- Patients with eyes affected by Herpes Simplex or Herpes Zoster
- People with Glaucoma or high blood pressure in the eye.
- Those with an inflammation of the eye or eyelid, and eyelash crusting.
- Those with an injured central cornea.
- Those taking medication likely to cause ocular side effects.
- People with severe allergies.
- Those taking any medication that causes the healing process to slow down, such as for diabetes, autoimmune or immunodeficiency diseases, retinoic acid, steroids, etc., and
- People with unstable or worsening refractive errors
Lately, more and more surgeons seem to be showing a revival of interest in flapless surgery. While it could be partly due to the common complications from a flap method, it is also partly presumed to be because of the better results shown by the flapless method against the haze problem. Several doctors also opt for the Wavefront procedure as complications from this type of treatment are fewer and usually temporary.