As with any medical procedure, LASIK can have positive and negative effects. Below are some of the more common benefits and drawbacks, separated into three categories: function, form and feeling.
Function — Visual Effectiveness
Pro: Better visual acuity
Many patients notice an immediate improvement in their vision after receiving LASIK. As the cornea heals, this effect becomes more noticeable. For the majority of patients, their uncorrected vision 12 to 18 hours after the procedure is as good as their vision was prior to the procedure with their glasses or contact lenses.
Con: Night vision issues
Many people will notice nighttime glare, halos and sensitivity to bright light after their LASIK procedure. These issues usually resolve within three months. Rarely, some people will have persistent night vision issues that last longer than one year. While these side effects rarely persist for such a long period, they are some of the risks of the procedure. Most people who have LASIK do not experience these types of effects long-term.
Form — Facial Appearance
Pro: No more “four-eyes”
Glasses can negatively affect people’s self image, and unfortunately for some people, contact lenses may not be an option. Freedom from glasses can improve patients’ self-esteem, as well as broaden their fashion and cosmetic options.
Con: Subconjunctival hemorrhages
Subconjunctival hemorrhages — red spots on the white of the eye — are very common immediately following LASIK. These spots are bruises caused by the suction ring that was used to hold the eye still while the corneal flap was created. These bruises are bright red because the skin overlying them, the conjunctiva, is clear. The red spots can last from one week to one month and can be small or cover the majority of the white part of the eye. Although they may look alarming, they are cosmetic and do not hurt or affect the vision. They are temporary, and your body will naturally clear the spots within a few weeks.
Feeling — Sensation in and Around the Eyes
Pro: No more irritating contact lenses
Contact lenses decrease oxygen delivery to the cornea, the front surface of the eye. They also decrease the ability of the tear film to naturally remove toxins, allergens and bacteria from the eye. Contact lenses can cause dry eyes, allergic reactions and infections. LASIK decreases most patients’ reliance on contact lenses, which means their eyes are more comfortable.
Con: Dry eyes
LASIK causes an acute dry eye condition in most people that can last from one week to three months. For most people, topical artificial tears, topical dry eye medications and use of oral omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate most of the symptoms and signs of LASIK-induced dry eyes. In rare individuals, the dry eye can persist for up to a year or more.
While the above information offers general guidelines on what to expect after LASIK, each patient’s experience will be different. The best way to increase positive outcomes and decrease negative outcomes is to find an experienced, trusted LASIK provider.