Know the LASIK Risks before Surgery
By William Holcomb on May 13, 2014
With laser vision correction, you can say goodbye to pesky glasses or contacts while improving your quality of daily life. The benefits of improving your natural vision are immense, and through the advanced technology used in LASIK surgery, you can rest assured that the procedure will be made as safe as possible.
Still, no surgery is without some level of risk. Patients should be aware of the potential complications involved with LASIK, even if they are rare. By learning the possible risks of laser eye surgery and by having an in-depth discussion with your doctor, you can form reasonable expectations for treatment.
A common misconception regarding LASIK surgery is that it can guarantee “perfect vision.” Although most people will achieve 20/20 vision or better, some patients’ eyesight will settle into a range between 30 and 40/40. Lower ranges of vision are generally due to how much corneal tissue is removed during surgery and how well the cornea heals afterward. However, even when results are sub-optimal, patients still generally have a significant improvement in their vision. Over time, as many as 20 percent of patients will continue to lose some vision to the extent where follow-up surgery is required to maintain the desired results.
Patients should also understand that LASIK cannot prevent the onset of presbyopia - the loss of focus on small, close tasks such as reading fine print. This condition tends to worsen as people continue to age, increasing the need for occasional reading glasses or contacts.
Before the surface of the eye is reshaped in LASIK surgery, a thin flap is made in the corneal tissue. This flap is temporarily lifted back for surgery, and then returned to its natural position to heal naturally. Although the tissue heals without any issue in most cases, some complications can arise:
- Astigmatism: When the corneal flap is not evenly surfaced, the subsequent laser surgery or healing may also be uneven. This results in an irregular astigmatism, causing double vision. A second surgery may be utilized to correct astigmatism.
- Inflammation: Some inflammation under the corneal flap can be expected, due to the damage and healing of tissue. If too much inflammation occurs, however, it can interfere with one’s recovery and vision. This is typically treated with antibiotics or steroids.
- Epithelial ingrowth: When tissue from the corneal flap grows inward toward the eye, it can result in discomfort or blurred vision. With follow-up treatment, this excess tissue can be removed and proper vision restored.
Even when flap complications occur, they can nearly always be solved through additional treatment or surgery. Be sure to stay in touch with your doctor following treatment and report any complications that occur.
Temporary dry eyes are a common side effect of LASIK surgery, namely during the recovery process. It is possible, though, for some patients to experience permanent dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes primarily result in intermittent discomfort, but can also contribute to blurred vision when not treated. Treatment may include prescription eye drops, eye inserts to lubricate the surface, tear-duct plugs, or special contact lenses.
Prior to undergoing treatment, your eye care specialist will evaluate the condition of your eyes and whether you are a good candidate for LASIK. Patients who already suffer from particularly dry eyes are usually eliminated as candidates, so as not to severely exacerbate the condition.
Although rare, it is possible for infection to develop from LASIK surgery. In the event of an eye infection, patients will likely experience redness, oozing of the eye, and possibly pain. This should be easily treatable through antibiotic eye drops or oral medication. To avoid the risk of infection, let your doctor know about any previous eye problems or current diseases that may inhibit healing. After surgery, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery and report any new complications.
Are You a Candidate for LASIK?
Visit our office to consult Dr. Holcomb on the benefits and risks of laser eye surgery. If you are a candidate for treatment, you can learn exactly what to expect from the procedure. Schedule your appointment with us today!
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I went to the best of the best for LASIK: Dr. Holcomb. I highly recommend him and his staff.Courtney W.