You may be considering laser eye surgery to help you get rid of the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. But you must keep in mind that there are certain side effects of laser eye surgery that may be unavoidable to you. As this is the case, you must understand these possible outcomes and be willing to sign the consent form; otherwise you may well continue wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Fortunately, extreme cases of debilitating side effects of laser eye surgery are rare due to the many advances in technology. One of the most common complaints after LASIK surgery is dry eyes. It is usually only temporary and mild but for some, it may last for months or even years after the initial eye surgery. If you have a existing condition that predisposes you to dry eyes, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, then your surgeon may consider treating this condition first or recommend an alternative to LASIK surgery, rather than eliminate you as a candidate altogether.
In the unfortunate case that you do experience dry eyes after laser eye surgery, it is recommended that you take omega-3 fatty acid supplements and to drink plenty of water in order to maintain a healthy tear film. Keep in mind that most symptoms of dry eye after surgery usually resolve themselves so you need not be too concerned with having to do any of these things.
Other side effects of laser eye surgery that can occur are double vision, night time glare and haloes. As a result of poor reattachment of the corneal flap, there may also be induced irregular astigmatism, diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK) and keratectasia or keratoconus.
Irregular astigmatism can cause you to experience double vision and to experience ‘ghost images’. This can be treated with a touch-up or enhancement surgery. Diffuse lamellar keratitis is an inflammation under the flap, which can be caused by several things. If the inflammation is left uncontrolled, it can cause impaired healing of the cornea and subsequently a loss of vision. DLK can be treated with antibiotics and topical steroids. You may also need to go to a follow up visit for the surgeon to lift the flap and rinse away the inflammatory cells to prevent tissue damage. Keratectasia is caused when the flap is cut too deeply, or when too much tissue is removed by the laser, or when the surgery was performed on a cornea that was too thin or too weak to begin with. Due to this, the flap cannot be reattached properly back on the cornea and the part of the cornea sags forward, creating a bulging effect. This causes distorted vision and can’t be treated with an enhancement surgery. In this case, rigid gas permeable contact lens or contact implants may be prescribed to keep the cornea in place.
Other commonly reported side effects of laser eye surgery are eye infection or irritation due to the increasingly antibiotic resistant form of Staphylococcus aureus. This is very rare and would usually be treated with more aggressive antibiotics or topical steroids to reduce inflammation. You may also experience a significant undercorrection, overcorrection or regression. Regression occurs when your eye heals too much and this creates an effect of being undercorrected. You will notice this as your eyesight is deteriorating over time and this can be usually treated with further laser eye surgery, once the refractive error is stable.
These are some of the commonly reported side effects of laser eye surgery. This should serve to help educate you into what you should expect after laser eye surgery so that you won’t be afraid of the consequences and be confident with your decision to be free from glasses or contact lenses.