If you are considering LASIK and worried that something could go wrong, you might take comfort in knowing that it's very rare for complications from this procedure to cause permanent, significant vision loss. Also, many complications can be resolved through laser re-treatment.
Selecting the right eye surgeon probably is the single most important step you can take to decrease any risks associated with LASIK. An experienced, reputable surgeon will make sure you are a good candidate for LASIK before a procedure is recommended. And if problems develop during or after the procedure, the surgeon should work closely with you to resolve them.
LASIK complication rates
Experienced LASIK surgeons report that serious complication rates can be held well below 1% if surgical candidates are screened and carefully selected. You may be eliminated as a candidate, for example, if you are pregnant or have certain conditions such as diabetes that may affect how well your eyes heal after LASIK. Discuss any health conditions you have with your eye doctor during your LASIK consultation or pre-operative exam.
Large pupil sizes also might be risk factors for LASIK complications, because pupils in dark conditions could expand beyond the area of the eye that was treated. Again, make sure you discuss any concerns about these or other matters with your eye surgeon.
Other considerations about LASIK risks
While the great majority of LASIK outcomes are favorable, there is still that fraction of less than 1% of people who experience sometimes serious and ongoing vision problems following LASIK. No surgical procedure is ever risk-free.
Some LASIK patients with excellent vision based on eye chart testing still can have bothersome side effects. For example, it's possible a patient may see 20/20 or better with uncorrected vision after LASIK but still experience glare or halos around lights at night.
When you sign the LASIK consent form prior to surgery, you should do so with a full understanding that, even in the best of circumstances, there is a slight chance something unintended could occur. Even so, most - but not all - problems eventually can be resolved.
Common LASIK complications
When LASIK complications occur, they are sometimes associated with the hinged flap that's created in the cornea (the clear front covering of the eye) in the first step of the LASIK procedure. This flap lifted prior to re-shaping the underlying cornea with a laser, and is then replaced to form a natural bandage.
If the LASIK flap is not made correctly, it may fail to adhere correctly to the eye's surface. The flap also might be cut too thinly or thickly. After the flap is placed back on the eye's surface, it might begin to wrinkle. These types of flap complications can lead to an irregularly-shaped eye surface.
Studies indicate that flap complications occur in from 0.3% to 5.7% of LASIK procedures. But inexperienced surgeons definitely contribute to the higher rates of flap complications. Again, remember that you can improve your odds of avoiding LASIK risks by selecting a reputable, experienced eye surgeon.
Vision changes unrelated to LASIK
If you have LASIK in your 20s or 30s, be aware that your reading vision will change as you get older. This has nothing to do with your LASIK surgery - it's caused by a normal age-related loss of focusing ability called presbyopia. Because of presbyopia, most LASIK patients (like anyone else who sees well without glasses in younger years) will need reading glasses after age 40.
Source: LASIK Risks and Complications article by AllAboutVision.com. ©2009 Access Media Group LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.