Updated on  February 20, 2024
3 min read

Is LASIK Safe?

13 sources cited
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Is Lasik Safe Long-Term?

The American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) states that the LASIK procedure is safe. A “huge amount of clinical research supporting its impressive record for safety and effectiveness” proves this.1

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 95 percent of LASIK participants were satisfied with their results.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2021

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

This laser vision correction 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.2

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 American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) meeting showing:3

  • LASIK achieves a satisfaction rate of up to 98 percent among people
  • Nearly 100 percent achieved at least 20/40 vision
  • More than 90 percent attained 20/20 vision
  • Less than 1 percent 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 to help define and meet your expectations.

Common Side Effects of LASIK 

The common side effects of LASIK eye surgery 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 people report side effects that interfere with their daily lives.4

LASIK Risks & Potential Complications 

The following are severe but rare risks of LASIK vision correction surgery:

  • Decreased ability to see 
  • Corneal infection
  • Scarring in the cornea
  • Reduced or complete vision loss
  • Under corrections
  • Overcorrections 
  • Glare, halos, and double vision
  • Astigmatism
  • Flap problems
  • Regression
  • Night vision problems
  • Severe dry eye syndrome
  • Diffuse lamellar keratitis 

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 and arises within 24 hours after the surgical procedure.

People with DLK experience:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Unusual eye exam results
  • Hazy and cloudy eyes
  • Severe eye damage in cases of no medical treatment
  • Swelling of eye cells
  • Scarring of cornea

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.

Factors That Lead to Vision Reverting Back After LASIK

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 infrequent complication of LASIK. This complication occurs in one percent of people undergoing the procedure.

Is LASIK Better Than Glasses and Contacts?

Depending on the circumstance, LASIK vision correction surgery can be an excellent alternative to glasses and contact lenses. In 2014, an American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO) meeting said LASIK:5

  • Improves your night vision, especially while driving, compared to glasses and contact lenses
  • Reduces the rates of eye infections, ulcers, and eye abrasions
  • Resulted in higher levels of satisfaction at 1, 2, and 3 years at follow-up appointments compared to contacts
  • Allows you to spend less on glasses, contacts, and maintenance supplies
  • Laser vision correction procedures and contacts present similar risks of dry eye, while glasses typically cause less dry eye symptoms

While LASIK may not eliminate the need for glasses or contacts fully, it does make people rely less on them after the surgery.


LASIK vision correction surgery can be an effective alternative to glasses and contact lenses. While the procedure has minimal risks, they’re manageable with proper care. 

If you opt for surgery, follow up with your refractive eye surgery doctor or LASIK surgeon to treat potential complications quickly and effectively.

Updated on  February 20, 2024
13 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. Is LASIK Safe? What You Need to Know.” American Refractive Surgery Council, 2021.
  2. LASIK eye surgery.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic, 2023.
  3. New Research: LASIK Safety and Performance Continue To Impress.” Refractive Surgery Council, 2016.
  4. LASIK Complications and LASIK Eye Surgery Risks.” Refractive Surgery Council, 2022.
  5. Price et al. “Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting Paper, 2014.
  6. Eydelman et al. “Symptoms and Satisfaction of Patients in the PROWL Studies.” JAMA Ophthalmology, JAMA Network, 2017.
  7. New LASIK Research: Safety and Performance Continue To Impress.” Refractive Surgery Council, 2022.
  8. Somani et al. “Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK).” StatPearls Publishing, 2023. 
  9. When is LASIK not for me?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018.
  10. What are the risks and how can I find the right doctor for me?” United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2018.
  11. What is LASIK?” United States Food and Drug Administration, 2021.
  12. LASIK eye surgery.” MedlinePlus, 2022. 
  13. The basics of LASIK eye surgery.” Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice, 2012.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.