What Are The Risks Of Lasik Surgery?
Nothing in life comes with zero risk. The same can be said about lasik. As safe as lasik has gotten, lasik isn't risk free. Fortunately the risks of lasik are extraordinary low. And to top it off, most of the risks are more of inconvenience rather than the risk of losing vision.
The risk of losing vision with lasik is extremely rare
There are two main events which can cause vision loss after lasik. The first one is infection. The second one is progressive change to the cornea causing vision loss over time. These are explored more in the article: Is Lasik Safe?. But even those two conditions have treatments and many people avoid losing any vision at all.
But what are the more common risks of modern lasik?
Perhaps the greatest risk of lasik is having some residual prescription error following the treatment
As perfect as it seems, lasik isn't perfect. There are many moving parts to ensure that you have a successful lasik surgery. Not the least of which is how your eye responds and heals to the lasik treatment over time. The laser can treat a prescription of -5.00 only to have the eye act like it only treated -4.50. Everyone is different and all these variations lead to some patients that have a small amount of residual prescription error following lasik.
The more complex the prescription, the higher the possibility of having some residual prescription. Patients with massive amounts of astigmatism have a higher chance of some residual prescription (such as a small amount of remaining astigmatism) compared to patients with zero astigmatism. The best analogy I like takes a look at the act of putting in golf. Trying to sink a 100 ft putt is more difficult than when the golf ball is 2 ft away from the hole. Occasionally that 100 ft putt may not go in the hole (in lasik terms, not in my actual golf game 😆).
In the event there is significant remaining prescription after lasik, it's not the end of the world. More likely than not, an enhancement is able to treat that remaining prescription. By lifting up that lasik flap and doing a small treatment, that small prescription can be completely eliminated.
There are risks that cause extra inconvenience after lasik
Early on before the lasik flap fully heals up, there is a higher chance that the lasik flap can slip out of place. The creates extra blurred vision and extra pain. Part of the reason many surgeons like for you to go home and sleep after lasik is the risk of this happening is the greatest within the first day. If you rub your eye before lasik heals up, you can cause the flap to shift out of position. But if this does happen, your surgeon simply places it back where it's supposed to be with another procedure.
Another random event that can occur after lasik is extra inflammation under the lasik flap. This condition is called Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis (DLK) and can be seen the next day after lasik. Too much inflammation can cause mild blurry vision and the feeling like there is something in the eye; but it can also cause NO symptoms at all (which is why eye visits after lasik are important). Mild cases of inflammation are just simply watched and treated with extra steroid eye drops. Typically nothing else needs to be done. Severe cases (which are even more uncommon) can be treated by washing out the lasik flap. After the inflammation resolves with treatment, you're good.
Both of these two issues also happen to be very uncommon. But when it does happen, it causes more inconvenience rather than any long-term vision issues.
These are the big risks to lasik. There isn't much and there are ways to treat or fix them all.
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