Laser Eye Surgery Risks
Laser Eye Surgery is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Every year, approximately 100,000 individuals undergo this surgery to correct problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. While serious complications affect only 0.2 to 2 percent of patients, up to 10 percent of individuals require an additional surgery to correct vision problems or to treat side effects.
Temporary Side Effects
After surgery, there are many temporary side effects that most individuals will experience throughout the healing process. The eyes may burn or feel itchy and dry. Prescription eye drops are often used to alleviate some of the irritation, and side effects should be gone within a few weeks but may last for several months.
With laser eye surgery, some of the side effects may be permanent or require additional surgeries to correct. Undercorrection is the most common problem, and most patients will experience this to some degree. A slight undercorrection may not be too obvious and is usually temporary. However, many patients will still require glasses or contacts when reading, driving, etc. Patients with higher levels of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism may require addtional surgery for undercorrection.
Dry eyes can be irritating for many patients. After surgery, some individuals discover that the eyes will no longer produce tears. The eyes may feel as if they have sand in them, making the patient want to rub at them. In order to reduce irritation, the patient should avoid touching and rubbing at the eyes. This may cause additional problems that will require further treatment.
Although in most cases dry eyes are temporary, the condition can be permanent. Prescription eye drops may offer some relief, and other treatment options are provided based on the individual’s needs. These treatments will differ from patient to patient.
Often, this is merely part of the healing process. It should subside within 6 months. However, occassionally, it can be the result of undercorrection, overcorrection, or induced astigmatism. If the patient continues to experience double vision for more than 6 months after surgery, an enhancement surgery may be required to correct the problem.
Night Vision Problems
Approximately one-third of patients report having night vision problems after laser eye surgery. Night vision is worse in patients who require extensive correction. Often, individuals who suffer from night vision problems will be required to wear glasses when driving. This is often a long-term issue and may require further treatment to correct.
While not as common, there are instances when the eyes slowly go back to the original prescription. If significant regression occurs, the patient may require an enhancement surgery. This will usually take place three to six months after the original surgery. In some cases, glasses while reading and/or driving may still be needed.
As with any surgery, the patient may be at risk for infection. There are many infections that can occur in the eyes, some of which may cause permanent damage. Antibiotic drops are usually given after surgery to prevent infections. It is important for the patient to use the eye drops as prescribed and go to all follow-up appointments for monitoring.
Although infection is rare, there are some additional steps the patient needs to take to reduce the risk. Avoiding swimming pools, hot tubs, and saunas for two to three months after surgery is suggested. The patient should also avoid using eye make up for at least three weeks after surgery. These times may vary based on individual needs.
When considering laser eye surgery, the patient should be well informed and knowledgable about the subject. The eyes are easily damaged, therefore, it is important to examine both the benefits and the risks to determine if laser eye surgery is the best decision.