Risks of Laser Eye Surgery, Are There Any Side Effects? Part 2

Sub Title

woman holding open her eye with her finger
by Dougherty Laser Vision

What are the ricks/side effects of laser eye surgery?

In Risks of Laser Eye Surgery, Are There Any Side Effects? Part 1, we discussed side affects with contact lenses and contacts. In part 2 we’ll touch on LASIK, Vista Vision ICL and Lensectomy/IOL.

Glasses can have side effects like diminished peripheral vision and distorted image size, as well as nighttime glare and halos. Such side effects increase as the power of the prescription increases, particularly with astigmatism. This can lead to headache, vertigo, and nausea in some patients. In addition, glasses can be unsatisfactory from an aesthetic standpoint and can be detrimental to certain hobbies or professions because of their bulkiness (think of a swimmer or a photographer trying to use glasses). Glasses can also lead to contact dermatitis (skin allergy) on the nose or ears in some patients. Other patients have difficulty wearing glasses because of a small nasal bridge. Just like glasses and contacts, every form of refractive surgery has risks and side effects. Fortunately, most risks and/or side effects of refractive surgery are not common, and can be avoided or treated. Please understand that prior to your procedure, you will be asked to sign an informed consent document outlining in detail all of the known potential risks and side effects of each procedure.

Dr. Dougherty has never lost an eye from vision correction surgery.

If a car salesman were required to spell out the potential risks in buying a car, he would have to present all the data on car accidents and the possibility of actual death. This is not realistic. In my years of eye surgery, my patients are the best testimony to my skill and the wonderful technologies we have available to perfect our vision. Once more, I must emphasize that I have never lost an eye from vision correction surgery. I have learned over the course of my career that most of these issues are treatable. The following paragraphs outline the main risks/side effects of each of the major forms of refractive surgery.

About 1/10,000 people receive complications from LASIK.

dr dougherty screen

LASIK has risks including infection, over- and under-correction, loss of best-corrected vision (BCVA), ectasia, dry eye, night vision problems and flap complications. In my hands, infection with LASIK occurs about 1/10,000 people. I have seen only two infections after LASIK in my practice. One infection occurred the day after surgery when the patient aggressively dislodged the flap with her finger, and the other LASIK infection occurred spontaneously. Fortunately, both infections were not in the central cornea and were diagnosed early and treated with antibiotic eye drops, and both patients achieved excellent vision without glasses. Over- and under-corrections are easily treated by lifting the previous flap and placing more laser treatment on the cornea.

Even if an infection arises, we can treat it right away!

Vista Vision ICL has risks including infection, cataract, glare and halo, and glaucoma. There have been over 20,000 ICLs implanted in the world with only one documented case of infection, which was diagnosed and treated early with excellent visual outcome. As reported in the FDA study, visually significant cataract occurred only 1% of the time at the seven year follow-up, and was easily and effectively treated with cataract/IOL surgery with good visual outcome. The risk factors for cataract formation with ICL included age over forty and nearsightedness over 13 D (both of which are independent risk factors for cataract formation, even without ICL). Glaucoma (high pressure in the eye) can occur occasionally after ICL and is usually temporary and easily treated with drops. In the FDA study, no patient developed long-term glaucoma. In past years, glaucoma could also be created after the ICL due to an oversize lens. Since the advent of ultrasound technology to measure the sulcus (the area that the ICL is placed in), sizing issues have virtually been eliminated. My practice was instrumental in defining proper sizing of the ICL based on ultrasonic measurement. Unfortunately, because of the prohibitive cost of ultrasound technology, many surgeons performing ICL still determine sizing based on a measurement of the outside of the eye that attempts to predict sulcus size. I am completely confident in this procedure, and ICL is a very solid choice for many patients, with limited risks.

Don’t worry, we are always here if an infection arises!

Lensectomy/IOL is a very commonly performed surgery. The risks of refractive lensectomy/IOL are identical to cataract surgery including infection, bleeding, swelling, retinal detachment, lens dislocation, and glaucoma. Risks are low, and if there are any issues, most of them are readily treatable. Refractive lensectomy/IOL is a definitive procedure, meaning that the patient will never need cataract surgery. This is an important factor. As previously discussed, every human being, if he or she lives long enough, will develop cataracts and require cataract surgery. With RL/IOL, the patient exposes themselves to the same risks of surgery that they will eventually need, in exchange for the invaluable benefits of vision correction surgery. Furthermore, because RL/IOL patients are younger and healthier than the average cataract patient, the risk of complications like infection and bleeding are less likely than when the patient is older.

If you have questions regarding the risks or side effects of a laser eye surgery, call today and book your FREE consultation at one of our three laser centers; CamarilloWestlake Village & Beverly Hills.