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Laser eye surgery risks: can laser eye surgery go wrong?

Posted: Sep 11 2020

The benefits of laser eye surgery are amazing, but a lot of people are concerned about laser eye surgery risks and the possibility of it going wrong. If you’re considering laser vision correction, it’s important to understand the potential risks so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment. That said, it’s extremely unlikely that you will experience any serious complications.

What the statistics say about laser eye surgery risks

If you’re worried about laser eye surgery risks or side effects, it can help to take a look at the facts and figures around potential complications. Here are some statistics to consider:

  • More than 95% of patients are happy with the results of their laser eye surgery, according to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
  • Less than 1% of laser eye surgery patients under the care of one of our surgeons have needed an additional procedure to fine-tune their vision. This can happen when the initial surgery doesn’t quite perfect a patient’s eyesight. (Worldwide, the figure is 8%.)
  • Fewer than 1 in 5,000 patients experience more serious problems that require a corneal transplant procedure. The likelihood of this happening to you is lower than 0.02% – and the corneal transplant can usually restore a good level of vision.
  • In comparison, 1 in 3,000 contact lens wearers will experience a serious corneal infection resulting from contact lens use.

The figures show that while laser eye surgery does come with risks, they may be smaller than the risk of carrying on with contacts. If LASIK goes wrong, the problems can almost always be fixed with further treatment.

You may find it useful to read the laser eye surgery patient leaflet from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, which explains the facts about laser vision correction – and how the risks compare with contact lens use.


One of our OCL laser eye surgeons answering the question about the top laser eye surgery risks.

Looking for more information on what sets our laser eye surgery apart? Our laser eye surgery brochure contains all the information you need including laser eye surgery process, benefits and recovery. View our brochure page to receive your free download.

Possible laser eye surgery risks and complications

Over or under correction

While every effort is made to ensure that the LASIK procedure is accurate, there is a chance that the eye will be over or under corrected. Although the initial computerised prediction may show the desired result, all eyes heal and recover in slightly different ways that the computer cannot account for. Secondary enhancement procedures are available so vision can be adjusted when necessary.

At OCL Vision, we have a 15 year guarantee – if you have vision correction for short-sightedness, we will offer a repeat laser eye treatment to correct a return of myopia in the first fifteen years, free of charge.

Eye infections

Like all surgical procedures, LASIK carries a small risk of infection. However, eye infections following LASIK are rare. If the procedure is carried out using sterile lasers throughout, the surgeon can avoid any physical contact with the eye and thus minimise the chance of infection. Patients can also reduce the risk of infection by avoiding swimming pools and facial products for a short period of time following surgery. There is a raised risk of eye infection after surgery, which can be treated with antibiotic eye drops.

Complications with the LASIK flap

According to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, problems associated with the flap created in the cornea during the LASIK procedure may affect between 0 and 4% of patients. The effects may be short or long term and in some instances a second procedure may be required to alleviate symptoms.

Temporary effects of laser eye surgery

The most common LASIK side effects are minor and temporary, occurring during the first few days and weeks after surgery.

Eye sensitivity

Many people experience increased eye sensitivity in the first few months after LASIK. Usually, the sensitivity disappears by itself and no treatment is needed. Ongoing sensitivity is very rare and affects less than 1% of patients.

Dry eyes

This condition can be a problem in the months following surgery. Dry eyes occur when the eyes don’t produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate quickly. Dry eyes can be managed with artificial tears and the symptoms typically subside after a few months.

Glare, starbursts and the halo effect

Sometimes people who have had laser eye surgery have temporarily reduced night vision, which is particularly noticeable when they drive at night. Reduced night vision usually only lasts between one month and six weeks, and is rarely an ongoing problem.

 

Understanding and mitigating risks of laser eye surgery

It’s natural to think about what will happen if laser eye surgery goes wrong, but you can keep the risk to a minimum by choosing a trusted surgeon with a track record of good results. By following your surgeon’s advice and taking care of your eyes after the procedure, you stand an excellent chance of a happy outcome.

It’s important to understand the risks associated with laser eye surgery before you have LASIK treatment. All good laser eye surgeons will be very happy to discuss any concerns and answer your questions, and will provide one or more consultations before you commit to the procedure. At your laser eye surgery consultation, you can find out more about laser eye surgery risks and how safe the procedure is.

If you still have any concerns about laser eye surgery going wrong, get in touch and we would be happy to help.

allon barsam, ali mearza, romesh anguanwela eye surgeons

We’re here to help

If you would like to send us a message or have any specific enquiries, please send us an email to info@oclvision.com or call 0203 369 2020.

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