Laser eye surgery received US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval in 1996, and continues to be one of the most popular and safe elective procedures performed. In fact, with advancements in technology, and increasing experience of refractive surgeons, surgery for laser vision correction is today considered to be the safer than ever before.
Experience so far-
As many as 96% patients achieve 20/20 or 6/6 vision after laser treatment for the eyes. However, a very small percentage of patients may require a second surgery called an enhancement or touch up to further improve their vision, and very few people may not attain hundred percent vision despite this. These patients may not achieve complete freedom from glasses, but their post-operative power is much lower than before having the laser eye surgery.
It is for this reason that laser eye surgery is considered extremely safe and effective for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. In fact, the positive impact of laser eye treatment and consequently freedom from glasses, on your quality of life has been shown to be immense not only in terms of vision quality, but also confidence.
That said, the surgery, like any other can have certain side effects and complications, and your doctor will discuss them with you in great detail, before advising the procedure.
What are the common side effects and complications of laser eye surgery?
As per reported US FDA data, not even a single case of blindness has been reported following surgery for laser vision correction, despite millions of eye surgeries being performed worldwide. Experts believe that the rate of serious complications after or during this eye surgery is less than one in hundred, and that too can be treated with ease. Most of the laser eye surgery side effects are usually self-limiting and innocuous, and include the following:
1.Dry eye: The most common of laser eye surgery side effects is dryness of eyes. Certain patients who already have preexisting dry eyes, or are predisposed to the same (for eg patients with autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease etc) are at greater risk for developing dry eyes, and your doctor may suggest SMILE or Contoura Vision as a better alternative in such cases. In any case, you will be advised to use lubricating eye drops for some time after surgery to combat dryness.
2. Fluctuation of vision: This is a very commonly reported visual disturbance, especially in the early post-operative period, and your vision becomes stable within a couple of weeks of surgery.
3. Visual disturbances like glare, haloes: Several patients report disturbances in vision like glare, multiple images and haloes, especially when driving at night. The incidence of these complications has decreased remarkably with better technology for laser eye surgery, and very few people undergoing the premium variants of Lasik, namely, femtosecond Lasik, Contoura Vision Lasik or SMILE actually experience these side effects.
4. Flap loss and other flap related complications, including ecstasies, infections: Since a corneal flap is raised during remodeling of the cornea to perform the eye surgery for spectacle removal. Most of these complications can be easily managed, and are extremely rare.
5. Need for glasses: Few patients may need glasses, of a much lower power than before, to achieve the desired vision, but this percentage is extremely low as discussed above. You will, however, need reading glasses after the age of 40 years, like everyone who has not had surgery for vision correction, since that is a normal process of ageing.
Why is laser eye surgery considered to be safe and effective modality for spectacle removal?
Laser eye surgery is extremely safe because of the precision of the laser used, and has stood the test of time. With millions of doctors and patients happy with its results for over three decades, the surgery is the most commonly performed eye surgery the world over. The low incidence of side effects following laser eye treatment are primarily due to two reasons:
1. Laser precision: The laser beam is used like a very precise knife, and cuts or removes tissue with great effectiveness, and does not cause any bleeding or damage to the adjoining tissue. All laser procedures which include femtosecond Lasik, Contoura Vision Lasik and SMILE are therefore considered safer than conventional laser eye surgeries. In addition to this, the laser beam causes controlled low intensity burns on tissue surfaces and effectively stops bleeding from blood vessels, if any.
2. Computerized algorithms: All of current technologies control the remodeling of the cornea via extremely sophisticated computerized algorithms, which eliminate the possibility of human error. For example, Contoura Vision technology acquires and images 22000 data points on each cornea, and provides a customized ablation at each point, often resulting in super vision, vision which is greater than 6/6.