Guide to laser eye surgery

Most people are happy with the results of their laser eye surgery.
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  • Updated:3 Apr 2007

04.Risks and complications

Laser eye surgery for vision correction can change your life for the better, but you need to be comfortable with taking a certain risk, as no medical procedure is totally risk-free and the results are irreversible.

Laser eye surgery has been performed for more than a decade now and over that time, the complication rate has proved to be generally low. Around 5% of patients report problems following it.

The most common problems occur during the first few weeks after surgery and include:
  • Over- or under-correction, or residual blurry vision, which requires another ‘fine-tuning’ enhancement after three months.
  • Dry eyes, or inability to produce enough tears to keep the eyes comfortable, especially after LASIK.
  • Visual symptoms, especially after PRK, affecting night-driving ability, such as corneal haze, glare and/or haloes, starbursts around lights, blurry double vision or light sensitivity.
  • Eye sensitivity after PRK or other surface treatments.
  • Other, less common problems include myopic regression (where eyesight changes back to the pre-surgery state), lower contrast sensitivity and less crisp vision, even with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Visually threatening complications are very rare. But as with any other surgery, there’s always a slight chance of infection, especially within the first two days after surgery. It’s rare and more common with PRK than with LASIK. Infections can lead to scarring and, in extreme cases, blindness.
  • As it’s a fairly recent procedure, the long-term effect of removing corneal tissue is unknown, but so far no studies have suggested that there’ll be complications in the long term. Most problems discovered so far occur in the first year after surgery.

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