Halos and Glare after LASIK

7 sources cited
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What are Halos and Glare?

Glares and halos are common eye symptoms experienced around bright lights.1 They come directly from a light source or reflect from a surface. Most people experience halos and glares when they stare straight at a light or shiny object. 

Glares appear as rings around bright light. They occur when excess light enters the eye. This affects your ability to see and often causes discomfort. 

Common types of glares include:

  • Direct glare. Caused by light shining from a direct source such as a window located in your direct field of view.
  • Indirect glare. When light reflects toward the eye from another surface within your visual field.
  • Discomforting glare. When the amount of light entering your eye is more than your retina can handle.2 It causes uncomfortable sensations but does not affect vision.
  • Disabling glare. When there's excessively bright light entering your eyes. For example, looking directly at the sun. It may not cause discomfort but will affect your vision.

Halos appear as bright circles around light sources such as headlights or street lights. This is common, especially in low-light conditions.

Are Glares and Halos Common After LASIK? 

Yes, glares and halos are common side effects after undergoing LASIK surgery. Glares and halos result from your eyes trying to adjust to newly shaped corneas.

Most people who have had LASIK are likely to experience glares and halos immediately after surgery.3 Sometimes, glares appear as starbursts (a dispersed glow of light from a source).

You shouldn't be worried about glares and halos after LASIK, though. These are just temporary and may have little to no effect on your well-being.

Questions about LASIK? Call NVISION to speak with an experienced Patient Counselor who can answer all your questions and set up a free consultation. No commitment required.

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

How Long Do Halos and Glare Last After LASIK? 

After LASIK surgery, glares and halos may persist for several weeks to a month or more, depending on the person. After the first week, you'll notice an improvement in your refractive error. 

Expect all vision quality issues to fully resolve after about 3 months. However, don't worry if you notice halos at night 3 months after your surgery. This is normal.

Talk to your doctor if the glares and halos start to seriously affect your vision. 

What are the Long-Term Risks?

The primary long-term risks include overcorrection, undercorrection, or astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea). 

Under-correction or overcorrection can cause blurry vision, halos, and glares in bright lights. To correct this, your doctor will recommend LASIK enhancement or LASIK touchup as long as your corneas are in good health.

LASIK enhancement involves lifting the corneal flap and repeating the laser treatment. Surgeons do this by using an excimer laser before repositioning the flap.4

This procedure is quicker than the initial LASIK. It takes about 2 minutes to complete.

Other Common Side Effects of LASIK

Apart from glares, halos, and starbursts, other common side effects include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Gritty or itchy feeling in the eyes
  • Mild pain and discomfort
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Red eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Watery eyes/excess tearing

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5 Recovery Tips for LASIK

Follow the recovery tips below for successful LASIK recovery:

1. Follow Up With Your Doctor

Your doctor will monitor the healing process if you make frequent follow-up visits. 

Even if you feel fine after laser eye surgery, a routine checkup can help your doctor detect minor complications before they worsen.

Your first follow-up visit should happen within 24 to 48 hours after the surgery.5

Your doctor will advise you on the proper follow-up schedule after surgery. However, if you experience severe side effects, making more follow-up visits is advisable.

2. Guard Your Eyes

Your eyes may feel gritty or itchy after LASIK surgery. It’s important that you do not rub them. This can dislodge the healing corneal flap or introduce harmful bacteria.6

Doctors recommend using artificial tears and lubricating eye drops to ease discomfort. You can also wear eye shields when you sleep to prevent yourself from unconsciously rubbing them. 

Sunglasses protect your eyes from excess light, as well as dust and debris, which may introduce germs to the healing flap. Avoid using contact lenses, which do not shield your eyes like glasses do.

3. Avoid Intense Activity

Activities such as contact sports and heavy lifting can cause pressure in your eyes and affect the healing flap. Even if you can see clearly, don't strain your eyes until your flap fully recovers.

Doctors recommend staying away from such activities for about a month as you heal. When you resume intense activities, continue to seek your doctor's advice and protect your eyes to prevent accidental injuries. 

4. Avoid Getting Water in Your Eyes

Bacteria and other infectious germs may contaminate water.7 As your corneal flap heals, any contact with contaminated water will cause an infection.

Try closing your eyes as you shower and avoid swimming in the river, lake, ocean, or pool until your corneal flap is fully healed.

5. Take Medications as Prescribed

After surgery, you'll use eye medication to treat inflammation and prevent flap infections. 

To help with dryness, your doctor will prescribe painkillers, artificial tears, and other lubricating eye drops. You must use these medications as prescribed.

If you're required to take the medication multiple times every day or every hour, do not skip a dose. Failure to administer them as indicated may result in significant harm or a prolonged recovery time.

Summary

  • Glares and halos are common symptoms after LASIK surgery.
  • Glares appear as rings around bright light and occur when bright light enters your eyes. This causes discomfort.
  • Halos appear as bright circles around light sources and are expected at night and in low light conditions.
  • Most people who have LASIK experience glares and halos immediately after surgery.
  • Depending on the person, these symptoms may persist for a few weeks, a month, or longer.
  • These symptoms are considered normal as long as they don't significantly affect your vision.
  • Glares and halos go away with time.
  • To heal effectively after LASIK, follow all post-op care guidelines and take medication as prescribed.

Still not sure about LASIK? Talk with an experienced Patient Counselor at NVISION to find out if it's right for you.

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure
7 Cited Research Articles
  1.  Lackner B. et al.,“Glare and halo phenomena after laser in situ keratomileusis,”National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Mar. 2003
  2. Petherbridge P. et al.,“Discomfort Glare and the Lighting of Buildings,”SAGE Journals, 01 Feb 1950
  3. Eunjung Cha “Many LASIK patients may wind up with glare, halos or other visual symptoms, study suggests,”The Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2016
  4.  Nataloni R. “LASIK enhancement success relies on timing,” 01 Feb. 2001
  5. What should I expect before, during, and after surgery?,” US Food & Drug Administration, 11 Jul. 2018
  6. Laser Vision Correction FAQs,” UCLA Health
  7. Cabral J.“Water Microbiology. Bacterial Pathogens and Water,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 15 Oct. 2010
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