Deciding to undergo LASIK is your first step toward visual freedom without depending on glasses and/or contacts. As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with LASIK, yet many people aren’t informed about what those risks are and their severity.
As the leading refractive eye surgeons in Kansas City, Durrie Vision strives to educate our patients and take the fear away from LASIK. There are a lot of misconceptions about the safety of the procedure, and you may even believe “facts” that aren’t facts at all.
Read on for an in-depth guide on LASIK eye surgery risks and the safety of laser vision correction.
Is LASIK eye surgery safe?
The short answer: Yes, LASIK eye surgery is safe, and a vast majority of patients have a very positive experience. The FDA-conducted two studies as part of their LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project— PROWL-1 and PROWL-2. In PROWL-1, the FDA found that 99% of patients gained 20/20 vision from LASIK with PROWL-2 only being slightly lower at 96%.
Oftentimes, people are alarmed by LASIK because they aren’t aware of how the procedure works. The idea of a surgeon touching your eye may seem a little scary, but believe or not, the process is quick and painless.
Here’s how LASIK works:
Whenever you get LASIK, you are treating a refractive error. This could include nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism (yes, people with astigmatism can get LASIK too; that’s what it’s for!). The reason you have a refractive error is because of the shape of your cornea. If your cornea is too steep, too flat, or misshapen, that impacts how light focuses on the retina (area in the back of your eye that creates an image). To treat the problem, a LASIK surgeon reshapes the cornea so that you can see properly.
At Durrie Vision, our LASIK procedure only takes about eight minutes to complete. So you don’t have to worry a surgeon spending hours upon hours on your eye.
Furthermore, LASIK technology is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The only way to receive FDA approval is by proving that the medical devices used for LASIK are effective and safe. This means the FDA also regulates lasers and other equipment used for the procedure. So not only are you getting a quick and painless procedure, you’re getting a procedure that has been deemed safe by the government.
How exactly is LASIK safe?
First off, you will never go straight into a procedure without some kind of LASIK consultation. To ensure you get the safest process possible, your surgeon must understand your unique eye shape, vision problems, medical history, etc. It is also extremely important to run tests and measurements before moving forward with the surgery. In doing so, you know that your surgeon is taking delicate care to create a customized procedure that will fit your needs and minimize risks.
Second, advancements in technology have transformed the LASIK method. In previous decades, LASIK eye surgery required a blade called a microkeratome to create a thin corneal flap. While this method was definitely effective, more and more doctors are using femtosecond lasers, which creates a precise flap without damaging surrounding tissue.
Lastly, LASIK has been around for over 20 years, allowing doctors to better understand the procedure and fine tune their methods. Now more than ever, LASIK has become one of the go-to procedures for people looking to permanently correct their vision.
Common LASIK side effects
When considering LASIK eye surgery risks, many people are afraid they may experience side effects. To be clear, side effects and complications are not the same, but the two are often clumped together (which leads to higher occurrence stats).
Side effects are what you can expect after a LASIK procedure, and they typically should not cause alarm; they are simply part of the natural healing process. Complications are unforeseen issues that could come from the surgery (we will talk about them more in the following section).
LASIK does come with some side effects that usually disappear in the following days to months. Here are a few common side effects you may experience:
Temporary discomfort: Immediately after your procedure, you may notice mild discomfort. Oftentimes, the discomfort is as bad as the healing process gets for people. However, it usually only lasts for a few hours before the irritation fades. To help, you can rest your eyes by taking a nap, and you will most likely feel more relieved when you wake up.
Dry eyes: Since LASIK causes a temporary decrease in tear production, your eyes may become drier. Artificial tear drops help ease dryness, and as your eyes continue to heal, you won’t need to use the drops as much.
Blurred vision: Blurred vision is a common side effect that most people experience. However, within 24 hours your vision will greatly improve. You may even have 20/20 vision by your one-day followup appointment.
Glares and halos: Since your vision won’t be perfect right away, patients tend to see glares and halos at night as the eyes continue healing. While the halos are noticeable, for most people, they don’t disrupt daily activity and will gradually disappear over time.
On the other end of the spectrum are complications. These are unintended outcomes that worsen the condition rather than help. LASIK complications are greatly reduced with an experienced refractive surgeon. Even still, complications are not common at all. In fact less than 1% of all LASIK procedures end in a complication.
Below are some examples of complications that have occurred.
Under or over treatment: In some cases, a surgeon under or over corrects a patient’s vision. This leads to further vision problems rather than clear vision.
Permanent glares or halos: For a vast majority of patients, halos and glares completely go away after three to six months. Very rarely will they become permanent.
Flap complications: During LASIK eye surgery, your doctor creates a flap in the cornea to start the shaping process then he or she replaces the flap. If the flap isn’t made correctly, once replaced, it may not fit over the eye properly or striae may appear (microscopic folds that distort vision).
Vision loss: Many people turn away from LASIK because there’s this idea that it could make them go blind. The truth is, there has never been a case where LASIK was the primary cause of someone’s blindness.
Comparing LASIK eye surgery risks with contact risks
A lot of people assume that contacts are a safer alternative to LASIK, and that’s not necessarily the case. Contacts do come with their own risks, and in some cases, people face Contact Lens Intolerance (CTI).
Contact lens wearers increase their risk of developing keratitis (corneal inflammation). This often stems from not taking the necessary precautions to keep the lenses clean. As a result bacteria and other germs can get into the eye and cause infection. In some cases, those infections can be very serious and could lead to blindness.
Symptoms of contact-induced eye infections include:
- Excess tearing
- Discomfort and/or pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Itching or burning sensations
In addition to infections, corneal ulcers are another dangerous risk that affect contact wearers. Therefore, at the end of the day, it’s important to know that contacts are not a risk-free alternative to LASIK. You should always consider the ongoing risks that come with long-term contact use.
How Durrie Vision keeps you safe and minimizes LASIK eye surgery risks
At Durrie, we make your safety and comfort our number one priority. We pride ourselves on performing successful LASIK and other vision corrective procedures. Because of this, we use the latest laser technology on each patient to ensure we provide the best possible outcomes. With the help of lasers, we are more equipped to create precise and uniform corneal flaps to improve the healing process and lower the risk for complications.
We also go beyond traditional LASIK procedures with our SBK Advanced LASIK—the most advanced form of laser vision correction surgery available today. This innovative method promotes rapid recovery and extreme precision, which helps minimize LASIK eye surgery risks. As a result, our patients are satisfied with their results and gain freedom away from glasses and contacts.
Learn more about LASIK eye surgery risks with Durrie Vision
Our number one goal is to help our patients better maneuver through life with the best vision possible. With each patient, we start with an in-depth consultation process. In fact, we take our consultations so seriously that it has its own name—Advanced Ocular Analysis (AOA). During your AOA, we’ll go through a series of the most advanced diagnostic tests to gauge which procedure will be the best option to reach your vision goals.
No matter the procedure, we use innovative laser technology to maximize precision so our patients receive the best results possible. We stick with our patients every step of the way, from the consultation all the way to the final visit.
For over 30 years, our doctors at Durrie Vision have been leaders in refractive surgery, offering all six options available today. To get started, schedule your AOA or take our easy, online self-candidacy test.