Loss of Vision Due to LASIK



While many LASIK patients are generally satisfied with the result of the procedure, it is important that those considering having it done learn about the potential complications before having the surgery. It is important to put the opinions that one reads into perspective and consider all of the pros and cons of LASIK, especially the more serious complications that can lead to permanent or temporary loss of vision.

LASIK could result in loss of vision, including the vision that glasses or contact lenses helped people attain. The danger of infection, which is usually effectively cured with antibiotics, can negatively impact eyesight and could possibly result in loss of the infected eye. There is ongoing clinical research aimed at discovering the causes of late onset LASIK complications including irreversible cornea damage, infection, inflammation, and flap dislocation. The evidence of these complications can take months or years to materialize after what is considered a successful procedure.

vision loss due to lasikLoss of vision can also be caused by the cornea healing improperly, leading to astigmatism and requiring stronger prescription glasses than the patient needed before. Irregular healing of the flap could very well bring about a deformed cornea leading to distorted images or ghosting. Then there are the possibilities of undercorrection or overcorrection caused by inaccurate shaping of the cornea during surgery. This will lead to blurry, less-than-perfect vision which can last forever. The only possible fix will be another LASIK treatment.

Besides the most common side effects such as dry eyes, there are other complications and conditions that may well come about after surgery. One of them is anisometropia or a much more noticeable difference in power between the two eyes. Another complication with a fancy name is aniseikonia, or a marked difference in image size between the eyes. This can lead to double vision, hazy vision and fluctuating vision.

Even though, irregular astigmatism on the cornea of the eye is not uncommon, it is the degree to which these irregularities can impact vision. So if a LASIK procedure causes this condition it can result in a new set of visual impairments including double vision, halos and ghosting. This could necessitate another treatment which, unfortunately, for a relatively small percentage of patients represents the lesser of two evils.

When the corneal flap, created with a blade or a laser, doesn't lie properly it can result in folds or wrinkles after it heals. When there is a negative impact on vision the decision must be made as to whether the patient wants to undergo further treatment to reposition the flap. In some cases the corneal flap never heals and is subject to becoming dislodged as a result of physical activities the patient might be engaged in. Some individuals simply have corneas that don't heal as well as others.

In the condition known as ectasia, the cornea becomes warped leading to distorted vision or even loss of vision. Often times, a corneal transplant is necessary to resolve this particular condition. Ectasia is usually found in people that have abnormal corneal shapes. The surgeon is supposed to screen patients carefully to look out for any kind of corneal shape irregularity.

Keratectasia is protruding of the eye which could be caused by a flap which is cut too deeply. This can result when too much tissue is taken away from the cornea as a result of LASIK. Unfortunately the chances of rectifying this problem with another procedure is low and doctors may resort to contact lenses or perhaps corneal implants to maintain the cornea in position.

There is a relatively new treatment aimed at dealing with this problem by helping the cornea heal. Corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) is a therapy that employs eye drops formulated with vitamin B2, which are applied onto the cornea and then activated with the help of ultraviolet (UV) light. The goal is to strengthen the bonds between the collagen in the membrane of the cornea to reduce the bulging of the eye's surface.

It is not uncommon to experience some inflammation underneath the flap at some point following Laser eye surgery. However, if the inflammation doesn't subside in a normal fashion, it can lead to difficulty with recuperation and lead to vision loss. This is known as diffuse lamellar keratitis. It is typically treated with steroids and antibiotics. If the inflammation is caused by impurities caught under the flap, the surgeon may need to lift up the flap and rinse the affected area.

There are other, less common complications that can impact vision. One of these conditions is endothelial cell loss, which is the loss of cell density under the cornea. Some patients experience contact lens intolerance for the rest of their lives. Another rare problem, epithelial ingrowth, is where epithelial cells develop beneath the flap. In some cases eye drops will be prescribed, in others surgery may be needed to clear away the excess cells.

It should be understood by people considering the procedure that changes made to the cornea cannot be reversed after LASIK. Depending on the severity of the problem, if corrections are necessary, then they can only be made by further LASIK. Many of the most common problems are related to the creation of the flap. It is a fact that LASIK can result in a loss of what is known as "best" vision. Your best vision is the highest degree of vision that you achieved while wearing your contacts or eyeglasses. Aside from some of the more vision threatening complications, there are the more common, temporary side effects which most patients deal with such as: glare, halos, difficulty driving at night and fluctuating vision.

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FDA Website for information on LASIK:

fda - US food and drug administration