While complications can occur during LASIK eye surgery, going blind is extremely unlikely.
LASIK is a corrective eye surgery that permanently enhances your vision. It reshapes the cornea, the part of your eye that bends and focuses light to create images.2
If you experience refractive errors that cause your eyesight to blur or distort, LASIK surgery might help.
LASIK surgery can treat three primary refractive errors:
- Myopia (nearsightedness) makes it difficult to see objects at a distance.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness) makes it difficult to see close-up objects clearly.
- Astigmatism causes irregularities in the shape of the cornea or eye’s lens. These irregularities cause image distortion.
While you can wear glasses or contact lenses to treat these eye problems, LASIK is a permanent solution.
LASIK Success Rates
Ninety-nine percent of LASIK patients end up with better than 20/40 vision. Meanwhile, more than 90 percent end up with 20/20 vision or better.1
LASIK is so successful that more than 8 out of 10 people who get it don’t have to wear glasses or contacts anymore.10
During LASIK, your surgeon will either use a mechanical microkeratome blade or a femtosecond laser to cut your cornea.7
Then they will cut a flap in it, leaving a hinge at one end, and fold it back to reveal the stroma (the middle of the cornea). A laser is used to vaporize part of the stroma and put the corneal flap back in place.7
LASIK surgery takes about 10 minutes for each eye. As with all surgeries, there are some risks involved.
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Potential Complications of LASIK
LASIK is a serious medical procedure, but it’s fairly low-risk. There are some potential side effects with LASIK, including:
- It may cause dry eyes for up to 3 months, but eye drops can help.6
- After surgery, you might experience night vision glare or halos in low-light conditions.6
- Because the thin flap the surgeon cuts during surgery is not secured, rubbing or poking your eyes could dislodge it during the healing process.6
- If your eyes change over time, such as with age, you might need additional surgery to treat them again.
Most complications after surgery are considered mild (like dry, itchy, or burning eyes) and only affect 20 to 40 percent of people.12
In general, those who follow postoperative care recommendations from their surgeon are extremely satisfied with the outcome.
How to Make Sure Your LASIK Procedure Goes Smoothly
To ensure your LASIK procedure goes smoothly, check if you meet eligibility requirements first. Laser eye surgery is not for everyone.
For example, LASIK is only FDA-approved for patients 18 years old and up. Eyesight is still developing and changing in those under 18. Therefore, a corrective surgical procedure is not recommended.
The best time to get LASIK is anywhere between 25 and 40 years old. You may also consider LASIK after you’ve maintained a stable eyeglass or contact prescription for at least two years.
You should also ensure you’re in good enough health to heal from surgery.11 Some eye conditions may impact your candidacy for LASIK, including:2
- Presbyopia refers to when the eyes gradually lose the ability to see clearly, which occurs with age.4
- Cataracts are the cloudy areas in the eye’s lens, which can also develop with age.5
- Keratoconus happens when the eye’s cornea thins out and bulges.3
- Uncontrolled glaucoma is an eye disorder that causes progressive damage to the optic nerves in your eyes.9
- Corneal disease causes cloudy and blurry vision, as well as corneal scarring, which can sometimes cause blindness.
- Some retinal and optic nerve diseases can also affect your eligibility for refractive surgery.
If you play contact sports that put you at risk of eye injuries, LASIK might not be right for you either. You should not engage in strenuous sports for at least 4 weeks following surgery.6
Consult your eye doctor to determine whether or not LASIK refractive surgery is right for you. If it’s not, other options like photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) might be better.
PRK is a lot like LASIK. The significant difference is what the surgeon does to the top layer of the cornea to expose the stromal layer. While they cut a flap in LASIK, they scrape it away in PRK. The recovery is more extensive, but PRK is a better option for some patients.8
Talk to your eye doctor to determine what’s right for you.
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