Laser Refractive Surgery Risks
While the overwhelming majority of patients undergoing laser vision correction at Commonwealth Eye Surgery enjoy success, we wish to advise potential patients that ALL eye surgery entails some risk.
The most common risks of Laser Vision Correction (LVC) surgery (LASIK/PRK) include:
- Dry eye syndrome
- The possible need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery
- Visual symptoms – halos, glare, starbursts, and double vision
- Infection or inflammation leading to corneal scarring and loss of vision
- Reoperation – enhancement operations to obtain higher accuracy or other corneal surgery
to restore the visual axis
This list is not inclusive of all possible risks.
Laser Vision Correction is corneal surgery intended to reduce a person’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses. The goal of this Web site is to provide objective information to the public about LVC surgery. See other sections of this site to learn about what you should know before surgery, what will happen during the surgery, and what you should expect after surgery. There is a glossary of terms and a checklist of issues for you to consider, practices to follow, and questions to ask your doctor before undergoing surgery. This web site also provides information on FDA’s role in LVC surgery, FDA’s current refractive surgical activities, and FDA-approved lasers for Laser Vision Correction.
LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, using an excimer laser. A mechanical microkeratome (a blade device) or a laser keratome (a laser device) is used to cut a flap in the cornea. A hinge is left at one end of this flap. The flap is folded back revealing the stroma, the middle section of the cornea. Pulses from a computer-controlled laser vaporize a portion of the stroma and the flap is replaced and aids in quick visual recovery.
PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy, which uses the same pattern of laser application to reshape the cornea as with LASIK. However, no flap is created, and this application is directed to the corneal tissue directly below the surface tissue (epithelium). There is less risk for flap difficulties, but this process takes longer to heal. We recommend this procedure for those whose cornea is thin or has other abnormalities. Six weeks after surgery, the visual result is the same for either LASIK or PRK.
This video summarizes some risks of LASIK surgery and includes images of common visual problems that a LASIK patient may see.