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Risk, Recovery & Side Effects

Lasik is an exceptionally safe, effective and the least cumbersome of all medical procedures that dramatically improves the life of the patient within the first few hours of the surgery itself. Patients are able to experience a commendable improvement in the quality of sight almost immediately after the procedure. Years of research and development has led to newer and better Lasik machines that practically eliminate the risk of side effects and curtail the development of complications.

However, Lasik still is an invasive surgical procedure and although there is no blood loss or stitches during the surgery, as with any surgical procedure, Lasik too exposes you to some unwanted side effects and complications. Nevertheless, with the latest machines and new technology, these risks are restricted effectively. You must be able to accept the possible risks involved in Lasik before undergoing the procedure.

Lasik complications rate can be held well below 1% if the screening procedure of the patient is carried out in strict accordance with the International Guidelines for Lasik. Some patients, like those with large pupils, have a higher chance of developing a complication because large pupils in dark conditions can expand beyond the area that was treated. An experienced surgeon is your vital key for a successful and correct screening procedure.

Most common complications after Lasik

  • Glares and halos around and image
  • Starburst in low vision, specially at night
  • Difficulty in driving during night
  • Dry eyes
  • Reduced sharpness and hazy vision

Complications with the ‘corneal flap’ are also very common and often require a re-treatment. It is of crucial importance that the flap created is of right thickness, so that when it is repositioned, it will be able adhere to the corneal surface correctly. Failure to achieve this might wrinkle the flap after it is repositioned and this leads to an irregularly shaped eye surface. Accidently rubbing the eyes might also lead to the same problem, which requires a re-treatment.

Problem of Undercorrection, overcorrection or even regression can occur after the procedure. Re-treatment with an enhanced Lasik procedure usually solves the problem. Dry eyes reported in almost half the patients after the surgery for first 6 months, is handled effectively by using ‘artificial tears ’ to keep the eyes well lubricated.

Other Rare But Serious Complications of Lasik

Although these complications are very rare, whenever they do happen, they necessitate prompt medical attention or else the patient risks loosing vision. These are:

  • Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis- Also known as ‘Sands of Sahara’; DLK is inflammation of the undersurface of the corneal flap.  As a result, the patient feels as if a grain of sand is stuck under the cornea and this disturbs the vision profoundly. If left untreated, it can lead to corneal scarring or even permanent vision loss. Prompt medical therapy like instilling steroids and antibiotic eye drops often arrests the inflammation at early stages. In patients not responding to this first line treatment, the flap is lifted, rinsed and repositioned in-order to bring about the cure.
  • Ectasia (keratectasia)- this situation occurs when too much corneal tissue is removed at any step during the Lasik procedure. It results in bulging of the cornea and leads to a distorted vision, which cannot be corrected with Laser enhancement. The only way to treat this is use rigid contact lenses or place corneal implants, so as to hold the cornea in place.
  • Irregular astigmatism- This can result from an irregular corneal surface or if the laser correction was not properly centered in the eyes. If this happens a ‘’enhancement’’ procedure corrects the irregularity.

The risk of developing complications and side effects is almost negligible with the new Lasik machines. Whatever minor but temporary side effects do appear is managed easily and effectively.

More about LASIK surgery risks from the FDA

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