Is Lasik Safe Long-Term?
The American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) states that LASIK is safe. This has been proven through a "huge amount of clinical research supporting its impressive record for both safety and effectiveness."
In the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA's) PROWL (Patient-Reported Outcomes with LASIK) studies, 96 to 99 percent of participants who received LASIK were satisfied with their results.— Jama Opthalmology, January 2017
LASIK eye surgery is a procedure that changes the cornea using an excimer laser. It can permanently correct vision problems, including:
The procedure is generally safe long-term. However, like with any refractive surgery, there are some potential risks.
A small percentage of LASIK patients may experience side effects. But most side effects clear up within a few days to weeks.
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LASIK Eye Surgery Success Rate
Patient satisfaction with LASIK laser eye surgery is very high. In 2016, the ARSC published the results of the annual meeting of the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS).
These findings showed:
- Up to 98 percent patient satisfaction
- Nearly 100 percent of patients achieved at least 20/40 vision
- More than 90 percent achieving 20/20 vision
- Less than 1 percent of patients lost two or more lines (on the eye chart) of best corrected visual acuity (BCVA)
Generally, you'll receive excellent results if you have reasonably good vision with only mild refractive errors before surgery.
Before LASIK surgery, consider what you hope to achieve with the procedure. This will help you define and meet your expectations.
LASIK surgery permanently changes your eyes. Learn as much about the procedure as possible before committing to it.
Common Side Effects of LASIK
There are some common side effects of LASIK eye surgery. These include:
- Temporary discomfort
- Vision disturbances
- Light sensitivity
- Itchy or scratchy eyes
- Dry eyes
- Halos and vision fluctuations
Most side effects are often mild. During the first year after surgery, only one percent of patients report side effects that interfere with their daily lives.10
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LASIK Risks & Potential Complications
The following are severe but rare risks associated with LASIK vision correction surgery:
- Decreased ability to see
- Corneal infection
- Scarring in the cornea
- Reduced or complete vision loss
- Glare, halos, and double vision
- Flap problems
- Night vision problems
- Severe dry eye syndrome
- Diffuse lamellar keratitis
In rare cases, vision may eventually return to previous levels. This is often due to difficulties and issues with the healing process, pregnancy, hormone imbalances, or other vision problems.
Vision loss is another incredibly rare complication of LASIK. This complication occurs in one percent of people undergoing the procedure.
Always undergo a proper assessment before LASIK vision correction surgery. This allows you to discuss the potential risk factors with your surgeon.
Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis
Diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK) is a type of inflammation that leads to significant itching and discomfort. It occurs underneath the corneal flap created during LASIK. Issues may arise within around 24 hours after the surgical procedure.
People with DLK may feel as if their eyes are itching. When they visit their eye doctors or ophthalmologists, they may have an eye exam that delivers unusual results. Their eyes may appear hazy and cloudy.
Without treatment, DLK can result in severe eye damage. Cells in the eye may swell, and the cornea may scar.
To treat DLK, eye doctors or ophthalmologists use eye drops to reduce swelling, clear haze, and alleviate discomfort. After treatment, the condition resolves within 5 to 8 days.
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Is LASIK Better Than Glasses and Contacts?
Depending on the person, LASIK vision correction surgery can be an excellent alternative to glasses and contact lenses.
In 2014, a study presented at the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO) meeting concluded the following:
- LASIK improves your night vision, especially while driving compared to glasses and contact lenses
- LASIK and contacts present similar risks of dry eye, while glasses typically cause less dry eye symptoms
- LASIK reduces the rates of eye infections, ulcers, and eye abrasions
- Compared to contacts, LASIK resulted in higher levels of satisfaction at 1, 2, and 3 years at follow-up appointments
There is no guarantee that you’ll never have to wear glasses or contact lenses following LASIK. However, many people who undertake the vision correction procedure don’t have to rely on vision correction devices.
Besides the convenience and lifestyle advantages, this also means spending less money on glasses, contacts, and maintenance supplies.
LASIK vision correction surgery can be an effective alternative to glasses and contact lenses. While there are risks associated with the procedure, they are minimal and can be managed with proper care. Follow up with your doctor to treat potential complications quickly and effectively if you opt for surgery.
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