6 LASIK Side Effects and How to Minimize the Risks

LASIK side effects featured image

LASIK side effects, while very real and part of the surgery package, are often overlooked by eager patrons raring to get their vision back to normal.

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. Before going through any operation, though, it helps to be well aware of the complications it brings. Each medical procedure carries with it its own risks, and LASIK is no exception.


LASIK side effects


But don’t freak out! LASIK surgery has been around for quite a while now, and so far, a large chunk of its recipients report being satisfied with the results.

If you’ve decided to undergo the procedure, congratulations! It’s a life-changing event that can literally alter the way you see things for the better.


Look Out for These 6 Common LASIK Side Effects

Be a proactive patient by taking note of these 6 possible LASIK surgery complications. You can deal with the issue head-on only if you know what you’re up against.

Note, though, this post isn’t meant to scare you. On the contrary, it aims to provide you with valuable information you can use to arm yourself should the need to do so arises.


1. Dry eyes

Because the laser in LASIK penetrates deep into the eye structures, it can cause dramatic, albeit temporary, changes in the physiology of the eye.

One activity that’s often affected is the eye’s ability to produce tears. No, this doesn’t mean you can no longer cry. See, whether you’re down in the dumps or over the moon with joy, your eyes continue to produce tears.

Tears contain more than water for moisture. They also contain oils, mucus, and antibodies and proteins, each having a specific function. The oil lubricates, the mucus ensures even distribution, and the antibodies and proteins ward off infection.

All these ingredients come from the lacrimal glands, which produce tears. LASIK disrupts these glands, and as a result, your eyes feel drier, grittier.


LASIK side effects


To counter dry eyes, doctors often prescribe eye drops or lubricants to assist the lacrimal glands in tear production. Other treatment options include using plugs to block the punctum, the duct that draws off tears from your eyes.


2. Vision glares and halos

One of the most common LASIK side effects is the occurrence of vision glares and halos. Often, patients report experiencing this symptom during the first few days following the surgery, though it goes away on its own a few weeks later.

Vision glare is defined as a bright, dazzling sensation brought about by an extremely bright light. This vision produces actual physical sensations such as pain and discomfort. In addition, it interferes with one’s visual acuity.

Some patients experience vision glares in the form of halos. These are evident around bright lights, such as streetlights and taillights. Vision glares and halos are strongest at night, when they’re at their sharpest and are most evident.


LASIK side effects


While uncomfortable and bothersome, vision glares and halos are common—expected even—LASIK side effects. They’re part of the recovery process, so they’re best left alone to resolve by themselves.

For the time being, use sunglasses, specialized lenses, and car visors while you go around or when you’re driving. If the glare interferes with your daily activities, talk to your doctor about management options.


3. Corneal flap irregularities

In LASIK surgery, the first step requires the surgeon to cut into the cornea to create a flap. He then places a ring on the cornea, keeping it in place through suction.

With a microkeratome, a kind of surgical tool, the surgeon cuts into the cornea. Thus, he creates a flap, which is kept attached to the rest of the cornea with the aid of a small hinge.

After the surgery, wrinkles—referred to as striae—form in the corneal flap. Often, these striae leave the patient’s vision unaffected. But sometimes, they get serious enough to cause vision problems.


LASIK side effects


This occurs in individuals who are severely nearsighted. Doctors suspect this happens too when the patient rubs the eye before the corneal flap has been fully healed. This is why to recover faster from LASIK surgery patients are strongly advised to refrain from rubbing their eyes several weeks after the operation.

Flap irregularities require surgical intervention. Talk to your surgeon if you observe something off in your vision or sensation after you’ve had the procedure.


4. Irregular astigmatism

LASIK eye surgery addresses vision problems. But sometimes, one of the LASIK side effects involves a vision-related issue. Such is the case of irregular astigmatism.

In general, astigmatism is due to an unequal curvature on the corneal surface. When this condition appears after LASIK, however, it’s either because the laser didn’t properly fall right on the center of the eye or an irregular healing pattern had taken place.


LASIK side effects


You’ll know you likely have irregular astigmatism when you experience double vision (medically known as diplopia) or see “ghost images.” When you do, talk to your doctor right away. You may need to go through a retreatment procedure or an enhancement surgery to address this issue.


5. Undercorrection, overcorrection, or regression

A popular misconception of LASIK surgery is it automatically restores your vision to twenty-twenty. While the procedure does produce significant changes in your eyesight, it doesn’t produce similar results for everyone.

It’s important to keep this in mind regardless of your reasons for getting LASIK, lest you end up disappointed and thinking LASIK surgery is a failure. There are several occasions wherein patients still need to wear glasses or contact lenses even after the operation, yet this doesn’t mean it didn’t work.


LASIK side effects


Undercorrection, overcorrection, or regression are normal LASIK side effects. This could be due to the laser not removing the right amount of corneal tissue, or your eye having a less-than-optimum response to the operation.

Doctors resolve most cases by performing an additional vision-correction procedure, once they’ve deemed your eyesight to be stable enough for such.


6. Temporary discomfort

LASIK, being a surgical procedure, is an invasive process. Though the procedure is relatively painless, don’t be surprised if you experience some discomfort afterward. Remember, your eye has just gone under the laser knife and needs time to recover.

Other LASIK side effects to expect are mild irritation, sensitivity to light, hazy vision, and lesser vision sharpness. Fortunately, these are short-term effects, and they should go away after a maximum of 6 months.


LASIK side effects


To combat these and for a speedier recovery from LASIK surgery, religiously observe your doctor’s postsurgical tips. Observe signs and symptoms, and if anything seems off, contact your doctor immediately.

Attend your checkups regularly; do your best to not miss them as much as possible. Refrain from stressing yourself out. Remind yourself LASIK side effects are temporary and the results are more than worth it.