The risks of laser eye surgery

Millions of us are given local or general anaesthetic every day of the week for all manner of surgical procedures. One of the most common is laser eye surgery, used to correct both near and far sightedness as well as astigmatism. While this is considered to be a simple, run of the mill procedure, there are laser eye surgery risks you should be aware of if you are considering undergoing this kind of surgery.

Whilst this procedure usually carries a short recovery period and is often considered to be risk free, there really is no such thing where surgery is concerned. The major risk of laser eye surgery is post-operative infection. This prolongs the recovery period and also increases the level of post-operative discomfort, but the statistics show us that only 0.1% of patients will suffer from this.

Another post-operative condition, which is even rarer, is the onset of corneal haze. This is where an abnormal amount of scar tissue develops during the cornea’s healing process, and could actually lead to worse vision than before the operation. Extreme corneal haze occurs in very isolated cases, and causes serious problems with vision, and as the quality of the eyesight is so greatly reduced it can lead to a second operation.

Another risk is the possibility of under or over correction, due to no fault of the surgeon. The unpredictability of how the cornea will heal is the cause of this, and if this occurs, patients are more likely to choose to wear glasses or contact lenses than undergo another procedure where the risk of worsening the eyesight even more is elevated.

Another of the rarer risks associated with laser eye surgery is regression, this where the initial result is positive but within a short period of time the result fade and the patient is back to square one. Another one is the so called ‘halo effect’, where the vision is distorted and that is more noticeable when the light is dim. A layer of the peripheral cornea that is untreated creates a second, faded image or effects that lead to impaired night vision.

Laser surgery does a great job, and has helped to improve the sight of millions, but it isn’t flawless and accepting that is carries risks is a way of preparing yourself for the worst scenario rather than believing it is an infallible, miracle cure. Older patients in particular should expect that while their vision may be improved, they will not regain the 20/20 vision they enjoyed in their youth and the best they can realistically get is to only use glasses for reading.

Although it can’t be classed as a risk, patients who undergo laser eye surgery should be ready for disruption in their every day life if they are having one eye done at a time. It is dependent on what the surgery is to correct whether or not you have to have one done at time or both together, and those who have had the former report the likes of driving to be particularly difficult until they have had their second operation.

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