Kinds of LASIK complications
Even if performed by an experienced surgeon, LASIK surgery may cause certain complications. In fact, LASIK is only one of the feasible refractive surgeries. Others include Epi-LASIK, LASEK, PRK and implantable lenses. Since inappropriate candidates carry higher risks of LASIK complications, it is overwhelmingly necessary to take a candidate evaluation. On the other hand, experience and skill of the surgeon are also important in decreasing related risks.
High success rate helps LASIK gain popularity
LASIK procedures are still gaining more popularity. Except for the public, military soldiers also have increased confidence in LASIK. As we know, eyeglasses and contact lenses are not allowed in active duty, so that some military personnel are more urgent to eliminate the dependence on corrective eyewear. Since 2000, more than 45 studies have been conducted to figure out the effectiveness of refractive procedure. Results show that most soldiers who have received LASIK or other surgeries have recovered 20/20 vision or better and complications occurred in very rare cases. Another study of US aviators who experienced wavefront LASIK reveals that the percentage of restoring 20/20 uncorrected vision reaches 100%. And 95% of those aviators are satisfied with their visual results.
Some health problems may increase the incidence of complications
LASIK complication incidence was relatively high in the past, but now experienced surgeons can control the rate of serious complications below 1%. This does not suggest that postoperative complications have been completely eliminated. For example, patients who get 20/20 uncorrected vision after LASIK may still be bothered by some annoying conditions, e.g. double vision, unresolved dry eyes and poor night vision. Another critical factor in ensuring low complication incidence is the health condition of candidates. Existing conditions such as diabetes and dry eyes may affect the healing effects, so that pre-operative exams are needed to potentially exclude certain patients. There are standard LASIK criteria for candidate assessment.
Corneal flap related complications
Many LASIK complications are associated with the thin flap created and lifted during the procedure. Incorrectly-cut flap may cause irregular eye surface, which can bring some visual problems. It is also true that inexperienced surgeons bring up the rate of flap-related complications, but the overall incidence is estimated to be less than 5.7%. Most of the flap-caused complications can be cured by re-treatment or an enhancement.
Possible corneal abnormalities
Irregular astigmatism can be caused by unsmooth corneal surface or improperly centered laser correction, resulting in double vision. LASIK flap may also cause inflammation under it. While some inflammation is harmless, Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis requires external interference such as inflammatory cell removal. Keratectasia or keratoconus may result from too deep flap cut. If too much tissue is removed, the eye may bulge and bring vision distortion. Keratectasia can be corrected via laser enhancement, corneal implants or corneal collagen cross linking with riboflavin.
Some regular postoperative complications
Besides corneal flap related complications, there are several common complications that may occur after LASIK. Dry eye after LASIK occurs quite often among patients in the first six months. These people can get help from artificial tears or prescription dry eye medications. In some cases, significant undercorrection, overcorrection or regression may occur after LASIK. Reasons for these imperfect outcomes involve the patient’s eyes, inaccurate diagnosis or incorrect settings of computer software. Eye infection and irritation are also possible but can be treated with eye drops and anti-inflammatory medications. These problems are more frequently associated with bladed instruments for flap creation.
Presbyopia and cataract are not complications
Presbyopia in people over 40 is common, which affects near vision. This vision problem is not one of the LASIK complications. Similarly, cataract is also irrelevant to LASIK surgery.
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