Are these procedures safe and effective?
While the results of corrective surgeries have been promising, there are possible side effects. It is important to keep these side effects in mind when considering vision correction surgery.
- Infection and delayed healing: Infection resulting from PRK occurs in one-tenth of 1% of patients. For LASIK, this number is even smaller. If an infection does result from surgery, it generally means added discomfort and a longer healing process.
- Undercorrection or overcorrection: It is difficult to accurately predict the success of eye surgery until the eye has healed properly. Patients may still need to wear corrective lenses even after surgery. Often, surgeries resulting in undercorrections can be adjusted with a second surgery.
- Worse vision: Occasionally the vision through corrective lenses is actually worse after the surgery than it was before surgery. This may be a result of irregular tissue removal or excess corneal haze.
- Excess corneal haze: Corneal haze occurs as a part of the natural healing process after some of these procedures, including PRK. It usually has no effect on the final outcome of vision after surgery and can only be seen through an eye examination. Occasionally, however, this haze may affect a patient’s vision. A second surgery may be needed to correct it. The risk of corneal haze is much less with LASIK than it is with PRK.
- Regression: Sometimes the effects of surgery gradually disappear over a period of several months or years. When this happens a second surgery is often recommended to achieve permanent results.
- Halo effect: The halo effect is an optical effect that occurs in dim light. As the pupil enlarges, the untreated area on the outside of the cornea produces a second image. Occurring sometimes in patients having LASIK or PRK, this can affect and interfere with night driving, especially in patients who have big pupils in dark conditions. This side effect is less common with newer laser treatments and the halo effect usually goes away within the first year after treatment.
- Dry eye: A very common side effect, dry eyes is an uncomfortable condition where the eye doesn’t make enough tears to moisturize the eye.