Understanding Refractive Disorders
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with vision correction surgery. However, the risk of a serious infection or vision-threatening complication is rare, well under 1% of all cases.
To date, there are no reported cases of blindness resulting from laser vision correction procedures. The potential complications with LASIK and PRK laser procedures are about the same, although healing with LASIK is faster with fewer potential complications.
Undercorrection of your prescription is when there is a mild residue of nearsightedness or farsightedness. This usually occurs because we may choose to be conservative on the amount of correction during the initial procedure. This strategy will be discussed with you if you are severely near or farsighted. Undercorrection may require an enhancement procedure.
Overcorrection of your prescription is when the correction has gone too far, sometimes resulting in a patient going from nearsighted vision to farsighted vision, and vice versa. In some myopic cases, overcorrection is planned, as the cornea tends to bounce somewhat back to its original shape. Overcorrection will result in blurred close vision. If the problem persists, overcorrection can be treated with another laser procedure. Overcorrection happens in only 1% of all cases.
Infection is the greatest risk during the first 2-3 days following the procedure. You will receive antibiotic drops to help prevent infection. Minor infections are treated easily and quickly. Although extremely rare, the chance of infection in LASIK is 1 in 5,000 and 1 in 1,000 for PRK.
Corneal haze is the development of collagen protein on the surface of your eye after surgery. Haze usually clears gradually on its own. The incidence of serious haze with PRK is 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000 with LASIK.
Regression refers to the tendency of the eye to retreat somewhat to its original prescription. If you experience regression, you may need an enhancement procedure or a thin pair of glasses. In most cases, the regression is minimal and is taken into accounted when planning your procedure. Glasses for night driving may be all that is required by a patient who experiences regression.
Night glare is the experience of haloes or starbursting at night. Night glare is common immediately after vision correction procedures and can last up to six months. Although night glare decreases for most patients, you may still need glasses for night driving.
Incidence of significant night glare is 1 in 50.
LASIK flap complications rarely occur with LASIK laser. A serious flap related complication may result in a loss of best-corrected vision (best vision that can be obtained with glasses or contact lenses). The incidence for serious flap complication is 1 in 500.
Loss of best-corrected vision is a slight loss of visual clarity or sharpness following vision correction procedures. If you experience this, you will lose the ability to read the lower part of an eye chart. In some cases, clarity returns during the first year. In a few cases, patients actually gain sharpness of vision, meaning their vision is clearer than when wearing corrective lenses.
Incidence of loss of best corrected vision is 1%.