Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.
In this article
LASIK is one of the most successful elective procedures in the world.
The American Refractive Surgery Council published their 2016 results of the annual meeting of the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
These findings showed:
Thinking about LASIK? Start a conversation with an experienced Patient Counselor to find out if laser eye surgery is right for you. Learn More
"The latest research reports 99 percent of patients achieve better than 20/40 vision and more than 90 percent achieve 20/20 or better. In addition, LASIK has an unprecedented 96 percent patient satisfaction rate – the highest of any elective procedure."
Several large studies have demonstrated LASIK complication rates of less than 1 to 1.8 percent. 1, 2, 3
Nearly everyone obtains good visual acuity after LASIK. There are some common side effects that patients experience post-surgery.
The most prevalent side effects include:
About 30 percent of patients experience dry eye due to LASIK. The majority of these symptoms are mild and resolve within six months. However, a small percentage of patients develop chronic dry eye.
Severe dry eye issues are more likely in people who already suffer from dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears can treat most cases of dry eye.
Glare, starbursts, and halos are side effects related to light. They are most prominent at night.
These symptoms are common post-surgery and usually subside within a few days, weeks, or months.
In rare cases, these symptoms don’t go away. They can be treated with a LASIK enhancement surgery.
Fluctuating vision is normal after surgery. This typically resolves itself within 48 hours of surgery.
If blurry vision continues after the healing process, it could be due to undercorrection, overcorrection, or regression. This can be corrected with an enhancement procedure or glasses.
Like all surgeries, there are risks involved with LASIK. Complications are rare. However you should be aware of them. Some are less serious than others.
A small bit of overcorrection or undercorrection is not uncommon. Most people are satisfied with their results because it is still an improvement from their previous vision. In these cases, retreatment is not necessary.
If you’re not happy with your new vision, you might be able to undergo a LASIK enhancement procedure. Otherwise, you can get prescription glasses or contacts to fix your vision.
Regression is a change in your eye that affects your vision. This could be in your natural lens or the length or shape of your eyeball. This seldomly happens after LASIK.
This can be fixed with an enhancement procedure. Only 1 to 2 percent of patients need an enhancement within the first year after LASIK. About 10 percent of patients experience some regression after ten years.
It is normal for anyone to experience age-related vision changes, even if you’ve received LASIK in the past.
Irregular astigmatism is an abnormal curvature of your cornea. It can be caused by problems with the LASIK flap or a malfunctioning or decentered excimer laser.
This can be corrected through an enhancement procedure, PRK, glasses or contacts.
Epithelial ingrowth is when the outer tissue of your cornea starts to grow underneath the LASIK flap. It happens in about 0 to 3.9 percent of LASIK procedures. 5 The rate goes up in enhancement procedures.
Mild cases of epithelial growth don’t require treatment. Moderate to severe cases can cause pain, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. These cases require the surgeon to lift the flap and remove the ingrowth.
Corneal ectasia is rare but serious. This LASIK complication causes substantial corneal thinning. Studies have shown it to happen between 0.04 to 0.6 percent of LASIK procedures. 6
Patients need more intensive treatment for corneal ectasia. This could be collagen cross-linking or corneal implants.
Corneal ectasia can cause keratoconus. This eye disease causes your cornea to “steepen” and thin.
If you have early signs of keratoconus, your eye surgeon will probably recommend against LASIK.
Diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK) is a type of inflammation that can develop under the LASIK flap. When this occurs, it's usually a few days post-surgery.
Mild cases of DLK are usually asymptomatic and self-limiting. Severe cases are treated with steroid eye drops. They may require the surgeon to lift the flap and remove the inflammatory cells.
Infections are rare because the LASIK flap protects against bacteria. You’re also prescribed antibiotic eye drops after surgery.
However, if you do get an infection, you may experience pain, redness, and sensitivity to light. This requires treatment with antibiotics. The surgeon may need to lift the flap and apply antibiotics underneath.
Flap complications can include uneven fold or wrinkles, or dislocation of flap. This can occur via injuries, impacts, or even just rubbing your eyes during the healing process.
Most dislocations happen within the first 24 hours of surgery. A study of 41,845 LASIK patients found the rate of flap location to be only 0.012 percent. 7
Flap complications are usually treated with another minor surgery.
In rare cases (less than one percent), a patient may lose a couple of lines of vision on a Snellen chart. However, according to the Refractive Surgery Council, there has never been a case of blindness from LASIK. 4
In this article
All Vision Center content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed optometrist to ensure the information is factual and meets industry standards.
We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from recent scientific research, scholarly articles, textbooks, government agencies, optometry websites, and medical journals.