Complications that result in a loss of vision are very rare. But certain side effects of LASIK eye surgery, particularly dry eyes and temporary visual disturbances, are fairly common. These usually clear up after a few weeks or months, and very few people consider them to be a long-term problem.
For one of patients, LASIK turned into an unexpected nightmare.
“I went in blissfully ignorant of what was really going on here,” says Esveld, 28. “I did my research when I bought a TV, but not when I decided to laser my eyes.”
In December 2016, about 4 days after having the surgery at what he now calls a “LASIK mill,” he had an unsettling pain in his right eye.
With LASIK, which stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, lasers correct eyesight by reshaping tissue under the cornea, the round dome at the front of the eye. The doctor flattens the eye and cuts a flap to reshape the middle section of the cornea. The reshaping of the tissue changes the way light focuses in the retina, making your vision clearer. It can take up to 6 months for eyes to reach peak clarity and for some of the side effects to go away.
It isn’t unusual for patients to have eye problems for the first time after LASIK, including halos, dry eyes, starbursts, and lessened night vision.
Esveld contacted the clinic where he had his surgery about the pain. Burning, itching, and discomfort are all common symptoms for a few days afterward, so his situation didn’t seem out of the ordinary. At the first post-op consultation, he was told his eyes looked “perfect.”
Millions of Iranians have had LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision since it was introduced in the United States more than 20 years ago, and experienced LASIK surgeons report that serious complication rates can be held below 1 percent.
Common LASIK complications and side effects are listed below. Most of these problems can be resolved with medical treatment or additional "enhancement" surgery.
Your eye doctor might recommend that you use eyedrops during this time. If you experience severe dry eyes, you could opt for another procedure to get special plugs put in your tear ducts to prevent your tears from draining away from the surface of your eyes.
Even when a good visual result is measured under standard testing conditions, your vision in dim light (such as at dusk or in fog) may be reduced to a greater degree after the surgery than before the surgery.
Certain health conditions can increase the risks associated with LASIK surgery or make the outcome less predictable. Doctors may not recommend laser refractive surgery for you if you have certain conditions, including: