Laser Eye Surgery Risks and Side Effects

Laser Eye Surgery like any surgical procedure has some limitations, potential risks and side effects that you should be aware of before you go ahead with your procedure.

Like any surgical procedure, there are limitations, potential risks and side effects that you should be aware of before you go ahead and have laser eye surgery (or any surgery). Choosing a skilled surgeon who you can comfortably communicate with and a reputable clinic with up to date technology can help you understand and reduce any risk to gain the best visual result from your laser eye surgery. 

The procedure works by reshaping the cornea.  In LASIK (Laser-Assisted-In-situ Keratolmileusis) the surgeon uses a femotsecond laser, not a blade to create a flap in the cornea. The flap is lifted and then a excimer laser reshapes the cornea. The flap is placed back into position and it heals over the cornea surface overnight. In PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy) the thin outer cell layer of the cornea is removed and the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped by the excimer laser. With PRK a soft contact lens bandage is then placed on top of your cornea to protect your eye as the cell layer grows back, repairing itself, within 4-5 days.

The different procedures carry with them different risks and healing times.

Are my eyes suitable for Laser Eye Surgery?

Firstly it is important to have a pre-assessment with your surgeon to establish whether you are a suitable candidate. 

At your pre-assessment your eye surgeon is looking to establish if you have certain conditions or anatomical limitations that may affect the outcome of the Laser Eye Surgery result. These may be thin or irregular corneas, large pupils, age related reasons such as cataracts,  persistent dry eyes, pre-existing conditions or other eye disease.  The surgeon will test and scan your eyes in order to get diagnostic information that allows them to advise you on the safest, most effective and appropriate vision correction treatment for your unique eyes.

Depending upon your assessment result, if you are a suitable candidate (and most people are) your surgeon will recommend the type of procedure that is best for you, LASIK or PRK.  Currently in NZ 90% of people would have LASIK and 10% would have PRK. 

Common side effects after Laser Eye Surgery is normal

When talking to someone who has had laser eye surgery you may hear varying stories of healing results. This is because surgery stimulates the natural healing response and is different for everyone as our bodies heal at their own rate. Recovery time may vary from a few hours to several weeks or a couple of months before your vision completely stabilises. 

Common temporary side effects after LASIK surgery are to be expected and can be: discomfort during the first few hours such as mild irritation and light sensitivity, experiencing halos, glare or starbursts in low-light environments for the first few day to weeks, dry eye symptoms, hazy vision and reduced sharpness of vision. After PRK these symptoms can last longer.

Many of these symptoms can be managed with simple remedies such as adequate pain medication and wearing sunglasses for the first 24 hours. Using your prescribed eye drops will minimise infection and control inflammation as your eyes heal and your surgeon will provide you with artificial tear drops to lubricate your eyes which alleviates the dry eye or gritty eye feeling. In the majority of cases these symptoms are temporary and will disappear quickly as the initial healing process moves on. Dry eyes may take from one to six months to resolve.

Understanding the reason for the side effects by talking with your surgeon will help you to manage any symptoms you may experience e.g. dry eyes is due to a decrease in tear production that can cause eye discomfort and a fluctuation in vision. Almost half of all LASIK patients experience some degree of dry eye syndrome. When the eye has completely healed, the dry eye problems usually disappear. 

Why do some people need to have a ‘touch up’ later on?

Sometimes our bodies respond to laser eye surgery by over-healing and the initial visual result may regress over a few months. Sometimes the eye’s healing response is not what is normally expected.  This is why your surgeon monitors your healing with day 1, week 1 and monthly, three and six monthly check ups to see how you are progressing. Approximately 3% of patients experience undercorrection, overcorrection or regression and can be successfully treated with an enhancement (additional laser vision correction) at around 3 months and occasionally at 6 months. 

How safe is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser Eye Surgery was introduced in the United States over 25 years ago and has treated over 27 million people worldwide with high patient satisfaction rates. 99% of people can drive without their glasses the day after surgery.

It is considered by experts as one of the safest and most effective forms of elective surgery. FDA (Food and Drug Administration USA) studies have reported that 95% of patients achieve 20/20 vision or higher.  

You can reduce your risk of Laser Eye Surgery complications by choosing a reputable, experienced surgeon who you feel comfortable discussing the procedure and any concerns you may have. Having a comprehensive follow-up care plan with your surgeon will also ensure the best visual result.  

At Bowen Eye Clinic we believe this relationship is paramount to you receiving the best service and our surgeon Dr Reece Hall will see you for your pre-assessment, surgery and all your follow up care.  Information about the safety and risks of your individualised treatment will be discussed with you at each stage.

Call Bowen Eye Clinic on 0800 69 20 20 to book your free assessment.