Refractive surgery (LASIK) often produces amazing results, however, as with any medical procedure, there are risks involved. If you're considering LASIK, it's important that you are aware of the limitations and possible complications that may arise.
According to FDA reports, nearly 100% of LASIK patients have good results and no complications, but you need to be aware that there are things that can and do go wrong. Some problems include double or triple vision, light distortion so severe that patients can't drive at night, or eyes so dry that they have to wear goggles when going outside.
Some patients experience infections, inflammation of the eye, redness, blurriness or eye irritation. In many cases, LASIK eye surgery can eliminate your need for corrective lenses, but that's not always the result. Sometimes, LASIK will drastically reduce your dependence on corrective lenses, but you may still require corrective lenses for some activities, such as reading. It's best to think of LASIK as reducing your dependency upon corrective lenses - not necessarily as eliminating your need for them.
Diffuse lamellar keratitis is a post operative LASIK risk that happens when a foreign substance, such as a hair or speck of dirt gets trapped behind the corneal flap. If this happens to you, you may experience pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, along with the sensation that something is trapped in your eye. Rubbing will only intensify the problem and may lead to further complications, such as infection or tearing or dislodging of the corneal flap. Diffuse lamellar keratitis usually occurs as the result of the patient not exercising proper precautions during the healing period after LASIK eye surgery.
One of the most common complications of LASIK eye surgery is a slipped flap. The flap that was created during the LASIK procedure may become detached from the rest of the cornea. Most doctors recommend that you go home and sleep for several hours after completing the LASIK procedure in order to allow the cornea to start its healing process. That's good advice and can substantially reduce your chances of experiencing a slipped flap.
Even without LASIK eye surgery, it's expected that everyone's eyes will change slightly with the passage of time - it's just a natural part of life. After LASIK, your eyes will still follow their natural course of changing with time, so LASIK shouldn't necessarily be considered a permanent solution. For most people however, their vision will not change enough to require any additional treatments, especially when the original procedure was done to correct for poor distant vision.
The information provided here is not intended to scare you away from LASIK eye surgery, since it has been a blessing to a great many people. For many who have chosen LASIK, it has meant that they are no longer dependent on corrective lenses in order to have good vision. It's highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about LASIK and how any possible risks or side effects relate to your own personal circumstances.
If you are considering LASIK eye surgery, simply being optimistic about the results does not make the possible complications disappear. However, there are very real complications, and to be an informed consumer, you must be an informed patient.
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This kind of laser eye surgery has helped hundreds of thousands of people, but what the doctors gloss over are the percentage of patients who experience complications. Patients may lose ability to see in low-contrast situations (such as at night or in the fog), may be over- or under-treated, may develop dry eye syndrome, the results may diminish over time, and a small percentage of patients lose partial or full vision. Because this is a new technology (the first laser eye surgery procedure was approved in 1998), the long term effectiveness of LASIK is not known, and many doctors do not have adequate training in the machinery.
Before making the decision to go through with eye surgery, you should research and understand the problems that can occur and the procedure. There are many ways to do this, including going on-line or calling your doctor. Records of bad LASIK eye surgery and studies of surgical vision correction are easily available and may help you to make the decision.
Consulting a doctor may also be useful, but also be aware that some doctors are interested only in the money they receive. If you want more reliable, more unbiased, sources speak with relatives and friends that have undergone this kind of eye surgery. People you know will be happy to share with you both the problems and the successes.
What Can Go Wrong?
The consequences of a bad LASIK eye surgery can be very serious, devastating, and difficult to live with. One of the most serious consequences is the complete loss of eye sight. One wrong move made by the doctor and or faulty equipment can leave you with worse vision than when you arrived at the doctor's office. Also, infection or other post-operative complications can lead to loss of eye sight.
Change in shape of the cornea is another serious complication that can occur which has implications on receiving and wearing contact lenses. If after the surgery the cornea is oddly shaped, you may have problems finding contacts that will fit. If this happens, special contacts, which will much more expensive than the average lens, would be required. A bad LASIK eye surgery can also result in constant burning and irritation, which may be treated with eye drops. However, if your doctor does not thoroughly explain the risks involved, find a new doctor!
Even if this type of eye surgery is widely used, and--if successful--can be beneficial, there is no guarantee you will not have a bad LASIK eye surgery experience, and the effects can be devastating and life-long.