Lasik Complications And Risk: What Kinds of Problems Can Occur?

No one having Lasik expects to personally experience any Lasik complications. If they did they wouldn’t consider surgery in the first place.

No one having Lasik expects to personally experience any Lasik complications. If they did they wouldn’t consider surgery in the first place.

But a few trips to the most reliable sites on the Internet make it clear that anyone planning laser eye surgery should have reasonable expectations of Lasik complications.

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That includes accepting the small risk of less than perfect results and the even smaller risk of complications.

According to the Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC), when an experienced eye surgeon does proper screening Lasik risk is lowest.

Fewer than 1% of patients experience serious complications. While the odds are in your favor, remember that real patients’ complications made up that small percentage.

What Kinds of Problems Can Occur?

Some patients lose best-corrected vision acuity (BCVA). An example would be a patient who starts with 20/200 vision and sees 20/20 with corrective lenses.

After surgery his uncorrected vision is worse than 20/20. That could be as little as 20/25 or 20/40. This is great vision by most standards, but is not as good as his corrected vision before surgery.

While Lasik can achieve 20/20 to 20/40 vision according to a Snellen chart, there are other vision characteristics that may not improve, or might be worse. The Snellen chart is the one we all call the “Eye Chart”. That’s the one with the one big “E” and rows of increasing smaller letters our eye professionals use to find out what our “vision” is.

One Lasik complication patients experience is loss or distortion of vision at night or in low light. They might also experience glare, halos or starbursts at night.

Most of these resolve over the weeks following surgery. For those that don’t resolve at all, this can be serious enough to prevent night driving. Patients who must drive at night should give alternative solutions serious consideration.

Under corrections are not uncommon. But there is no permanent damage associated with them, either. An enhancement treatment is usually all that’s needed to fix this problem.

Over corrections can be treated with lasses or contact lenses. These can’t be surgically corrected.

Some patients are unable to tolerate contact lenses after Lasik. Dry eye is one of the most common complications. Patients may experience this for short time after surgery. Some may have permanent dry eye effects.

Chronic Discomfort is Rare, but Possible.

There’s the possibility that area that was treated won’t be centered. This can result in distortions.

The epithelium could erode. The epithelium is the outermost covering of the cornea.

Corneal scarring can occur.

Some patients experience eyelid droop.

While some of these Lasik risks sound horrible, remember that only a small percentage of patients experience any of these events. Fewer than 1% experiences the most serious of these.

According to the ESEC one surgeon’s 1998 study showed that 7.98% of 4800 cases experienced complications. Loss of visual acuity occurred in 0.81% of these patients. This was part of a study to show that Lasik complications outcome improved as they gained more experience.

In another study did a similar study and noted that intra-operative complications dropped from 6% in the first 100 eyes to 2.3% in the next 600 eyes. In the last 300 eyes it dropped again to 0.3%.

Clearly the most important factor in reducing Lasik risk is the experience of the surgeon you choose.


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