How Risky Is Laser Eye Surgery?

By: Dean Caporella

Laser eye surgery has been such an enormous boon for the "seeing-eye" world that thousands of people with defective sight problems can thank this relatively simple and quick procedure for restoring their sight to acceptable and satisfying levels. But are you aware that their are risks associated with laser eye surgery?

It's foolhardy to think that any type of surgery is risk free and laser eye surgery is no different. The question you have to ask yourself is whether the benefits of having this type of procedure outweigh the risks and in most cases patients will choose the former.

The good news is that the chances of suffering serious vision-threatening side effects from laser eye surgery are extremely low. But there are risks nevertheless and you should be aware of them.

What Are The Side Effects?

Corneal infection is always a possibility following procedures such as Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) and Lasik. However, the risk is so low that when it's presented as a possible worst case scenario to patients, they generally dismiss it as non-threatening. The percentage factor is something like 0.1 per cent which is extremely low. Those who experience it will suffer no long term effects and it usually means a slower healing process and some extra discomfort. It's hardly reason for concern considering the benefits from receiving the surgery.

Corneal infection aside, one of the more common side effects of laser eye surgery is what is termed as under or over correction. What does this mean? Simply put, it's difficult to predict exactly how a patients eyes will respond to treatment so in some cases, corrective lenses may be needed in the short term or further surgical treatment is scheduled.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are another side effect of laser eye surgery but again, it's not sight threatening and can be treated easily with lubricating drops. Patients are generally more worried about the inconvenience of the extra healing time which can amount to several weeks.

PRK patients in some instances will report a condition known as corneal haze. Corneal haze occurs during the recovery process and while it is not threatening in the majority of procedures, there is always the possibility that vision could be impaired somewhat if the haze becomes excessive. As a prospective patient, you should be made aware of this but again, it shouldn't affect any decision you may make in going ahead with surgery.

Lasik Risks

Flap damage is a risk for lasik patients. The worst case scenario is that the flap could be irrepairably damaged or even lost however, once again the chances of this occurring are extremely low. Another risk for lasik patients involves the possibility of suffering a distorted corneal shape which may occur during healing. If this occurs, it will have some impact on the overall quality of vision.

If you are concerned about the side effects of laser eye surgery then you need to discuss them with your surgeon. We've covered a few but there are others, including a condition known as regression. It simply means that the eye may retreat to it's former state following surgery. This could occur several months following the procedure and further surgery may need to be scheduled. The bottomline... yes, there are risks associated with surgery but in the world of "laser eye" they are extremely low.

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Dean Caporella is a professional broadcaster. Are you aware of laser eye risk? What are the advantages? Get the latest eye surgery news and reviews

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