Updated on  July 28, 2023
4 min read

Is LASIK Safe?

11 sources cited
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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:

diagram showing six steps of lasik eye surgery

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

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

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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
  • Undercorrections
  • Overcorrections 
  • Glare, halos, and double vision
  • Astigmatism
  • Flap problems
  • Regression
  • 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.

We looked through hundreds of data points to pick the best LASIK surgeon in . Our Top Picks

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.

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure

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Updated on  July 28, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on  July 28, 2023
  1. Eydelman, et al. “Symptoms and Satisfaction of Patients in the PROWL Studies.” JAMA Ophthalmology, JAMA Network, 2017.

  2. “Is LASIK Safe? What You Need to Know.” American Refractive Surgery Council, 2021.

  3. “New Research: LASIK Safety and Performance Continue To Impress.” Refractive Surgery Council, 2016.

  4. Somani SN, Moshirfar M, Patel BC. "Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)" [Updated 2020 Jun 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2020. 

  5. "When is LASIK not for me?" United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2018.

  6. "What are the risks and how can I find the right doctor for me?" United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2018.

  7. "What is LASIK?" United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2018.

  8. "LASIK eye surgery." MedlinePlus, 2020. 

  9. "The basics of LASIK eye surgery." Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information, 2012.

  10. "LASIK Complications and LASIK Eye Surgery Risks." Refractive Surgery Council, 2022.

  11. Price, et al. "Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses." American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting Paper, 2014.

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