Side Effects of Laser Eye Surgery

There are a number of possible side effects following laser eye surgery procedures. The majority of which will naturally subside over a number of weeks to months after the procedure. Some of the more serious possibly permanent conditions are highlighted in the Risks of Laser Eye Surgery section. Again, this section is not intended to warn you off laser eye surgery, merely to let you know what you can expect in both your treatment and recovery period.

Following laser eye surgery, it is common that you will experience at least one, if not all the symptoms mentioned below. All the side effects are common and occur due to the damage that has been done to the cornea. It is just like cutting your skin, it hurts initially, but once it heals it gets back to normal without any pain. This is just like recovery following laser eye surgery. Once your cornea is fully healed you can expect your vision to return to normal, with no side effects or any pain.

You have a painful eye

This is a very common and natural symptom following laser eye surgery. When the local anaesthetic eye drops wear off, it is likely you will feel a dull even achy feeling in your eye. This is just because some of your corneal tissue has been removed. Some ophthalmologists may prescribe you painkillers for the first few days to help prevent the pain. As you eye heals, this pain will decrease and shouldn’t last for more than a few days.

You notice pink or red areas on the white of your eye

This is called a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage and is caused by blood vessels in the covering of the white part of your eye bursting. This should resolve over a period of around a week. For more information see the ‘What are the risks of laser eye surgery?’ section.

Your vision is initially blurry or hazy

Visual problems such as hazing and cloudiness are often evident for up to a week following laser eye surgery. This is due to the cornea not being able to do its normal job of focussing whilst it is repairing. During this period you may have problems reading, writing and driving. Again, these symptoms usually resolve over a number of days.

Your eye is dry

Unlike dry eye syndrome, it is to be expected that following laser surgery you will experience dry eyes for a few days following surgery. The covering over the white part of your eye (the sclera) is called the conjunctiva. This layer has nerves within it, that tell it to produce tears when the eye becomes dry or irritated. Following laser correction, these nerves can be damaged slightly, preventing them from causing tear production for a few days whilst they heal. This is more common in PRK, LASEK and Intra-LASIK procedures and can be prevented by using artificial tears to keep your eye lubricated. Once healed you should notice that your dry eye ceases.

You may experience glare, halo’s or starbursts

For up to a month following laser eye surgery such as LASIK, you may experience these symptoms generally only at night. If you do suffer from starbursts or glare, it is advisable where possible not to drive in the dark. Some people can find this symptom very debilitating whilst others tend not to notice it. These problems are also covered in the Risks of Laser Eye Surgery section.

These are the main side effects of laser correction procedures. Don’t worry though, all these problems should cease over the period of weeks to months following your surgery. If you notice any of these symptoms, please inform your ophthalmologist, as they may be able to provide some treatment to help improve them. As always, if any of these symptoms persist for longer periods, it is important to let your ophthalmologist know, as it may be something they need to fix.

Severe complications in laser eye surgery are thankfully very rare, however they do still occur. Some of these problems can be treated to allow your vision to return to normal, sadly however, some may not. It is important that you understand what the surgery and recovery period entails, along with any possible side effects and complications before you agree to have the surgery. Any questions or worries you may have will be addressed by your ophthalmologist.

This article has outlined some of the generic side effects that may present after any of the laser eye surgery procedures. The following article will inform you as to some of the more specific complications that can occur depending on which type of surgery you decide to have.

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