LASIK Surgery

LASIK is a type of refractive laser eye surgery that is performed to improve vision errors and decrease the dependency on glasses or contact lenses. 


Although the majority of LASIK patients are happy with the outcome of their eye surgery, as with any elective medical procedure, the possible complications should be considered prior to treatment. You may receive input from friends who have had the procedure and doctors who perform the surgery, but ultimately the decision should be your own.

Factors for Favorable Outcomes

Many complications can be avoided with proper testing and screening to ensure that you are a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery. Selecting an experienced surgeon who has performed hundreds or thousands of procedures also increases your chances of a successful surgery. There is never a guarantee in any medical procedure, even if you're the best candidate and you're operated on by the best surgeon who uses the best equipment, but it greatly reduces the chance of an unfavorable outcome.

So how common are LASIK complications? According to studies done in the late 1990's, about five percent of LASIK patients experienced some type of problem. Currently, experienced LASIK surgeons report that only about 1% of their LASIK eye surgery patients experience complications if they carefully select only those people that are good candidates for the procedure. Even if complications do occur, most of them can be corrected with further treatments and enhancements. It is very rare to experience permanent and significant vision loss with LASIK eye surgery.

Many of the possible concerns associated with LASIK eye surgery can be corrected and treated with timely and accurate medical care.

LASIK Eye Surgery Complications Include:

Visual Aberrations. Symptoms include glare, double vision, ghosting, halos, starbursts, loss of contrast sensitivity, and problems with low-light or night vision. Symptoms often disappear as the eyes heal. Treatment includes eyedrops or an enhancement procedure (further laser treatment). Sometimes caused by oversized pupils, when the pupils are wider than the treatment zone.

Dry Eye. Symptoms are dry, itchy eyes, often with redness and the feeling of having something in the eye, and sometimes pain. Symptoms often disappear as the eyes heal. Treatment includes artificial tears or punctual occlusion (blocking the tear ducts).

Infection. Symptoms include eye redness and/or oozing, sometimes pain. Treatments include eyedrops and oral medications.

Incomplete Correction (undercorrection, overcorrection, or regression). Symptoms will be blurry, less-than-perfect vision. Possible treatments include glasses or contact lenses, eyedrops, or an enhancement procedure (further laser treatment).

Irregular Astigmatism. Symptoms include double vision or ghost images. May be caused by an irregular corneal surface or when the laser correction is not properly centered on the eye. Possible treatment requires an enhancement procedure (further laser treatment).

Flap Folds or Wrinkles. Minor instances of folds or wrinkles in the corneal flap do not require surgical treatment or affect vision, but some cases affect vision and further treatment is required to reposition the flap. Possible causes include malposition of the flap (laying it down in a different position from where it was lifted) or rubbing the eyelids before the flap has had a chance to bond.

Keratectasia. A condition that occurs when the corneal flap is cut too deeply or there is excessive removal of corneal tissue which causes the weakened cornea to bulge. This results in distorted vision which usually cannot be corrected with further laser enhancement. Rigid contact lenses may be prescribed to hold the cornea in place.

Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis (DLK). A unique and rare condition that occurs with the appearance of dead cells underneath the corneal flap, causing inflammation and scarring. Prompt treatment with antibiotics and/or topical steroids is necessary to avoid potentially permanent vision loss. It may also be necessary to lift and scrape the flap to remove the dead cells.

Epithelial Ingrowth. A rare condition in which epithelial cells, which normally cover the surface of the cornea, grow beneath the flap. Most epithelial ingrowth does not affect vision or need further treatment. Sometimes eyedrops may be prescribed. Some cases require surgery to lift the flap and wipe the cells off. If left untreated, however, some cases can cause vision loss.

NEXT: Dry Eye