To help explain the risks associated with LASIK, we've excerpted the following from the U.S. Food & Drug's website:
"Before undergoing a refractive procedure, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits based on your own personal value system, and try to avoid being influenced by friends that have had the procedure or doctors encouraging you to do so.
- Some patients lose vision. Some patients lose lines of vision on the vision chart that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery as a result of treatment.
- Some patients develop debilitating visual symptoms. Some patients develop glare, halos, and/or double vision that can seriously affect nighttime vision. Even with good vision on the vision chart, some patients do not see as well in situations of low contrast, such as at night or in fog, after treatment as compared to before treatment.
- You may be under treated or over treated. Only a certain percent of patients achieve 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts. You may require additional treatment, but additional treatment may not be possible. You may still need glasses or contact lenses after surgery. This may be true even if you only required a very weak prescription before surgery. If you used reading glasses before surgery, you may still need reading glasses after surgery.
- Some patients may develop severe dry eye syndrome. As a result of surgery, your eye may not be able to produce enough tears to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Dry eye not only causes discomfort, but can reduce visual quality due to intermittent blurring and other visual symptoms. This condition may be permanent. Intensive drop therapy and use of plugs or other procedures may be required.
- Results are generally not as good in patients with very large refractive errors of any type. You should discuss your expectations with your doctor and realize that you may still require glasses or contacts after the surgery.
- For some farsighted patients, results may diminish with age. If you are farsighted, the level of improved vision you experience after surgery may decrease with age. This can occur if your manifest refraction (a vision exam with lenses before dilating drops) is very different from your cycloplegic refraction (a vision exam with lenses after dilating drops)."
Laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) can only be performed by a trained physician and is specified for reduction or elimination of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism as indicated within the product labeling. Laser refractive surgery may be contraindicated for patients: a) with collagen vascular, autoimmune, or immunodeficiency diseases; b) who are pregnant or nursing women; c) with signs of keratoconus or abnormal corneal topography; d) who are taking one or both of the following medications: Isotretinoin (Accutane) and Amiodarone hydrochloride (Cordarone). Potential side effects to laser refractive surgery may include glare, dry eye, as well as other visual anomalies. LASIK requires the use of a laser or microkeratome that cuts a flap on the surface of the cornea, potential side effects may include flap related complications. Consult with your eye care professional and Patient Information Booklet regarding the potential risks and benefits for laser refractive surgery; results may vary for each individual patient.