3 Terrible Lasik Surgery Complications

Tom at RealSelf on 30 Mar 2011 at 12:00am

If you're like me and pondering Lasik eye surgery, you start with the most negative thoughts and work your way to happy one's.

In spite of knowing that Lasik is rated as "worth it" by 83% of our Lasik community members, I can't help feeling anxious about the risks.

When the Ophthalmologists on RealSelf were asked about the 3 worst Lasik risks, NY eye doctor Emil Chynn shared his opinion of possible eye surgery complications:

1. Blindness

Lasik Eye Surgery Picture

No poll needed, this is every Lasik patient's greatest fear. You go in with blurry vision, come out with none.  

Dr. Chynn states that this is "VERY RARE", but references a case where an Italian woman with atherosclerosis had laser eye surgery and the blood didn't return in her eye after the LASIK suction ring was removed.

Temporary blindness, Chynn explains, may occur because during Lasik surgery "you have to pump the pressure up in the eye to about 6x normal in order to cut a good flap, as you can't cut an accurate flap in a floppy eye. The pressure is actually higher than your blood pressure, so the eye stops perfusing with blood, and you go temporarily blind."

2. Flap damage

I hadn't even contemplated if you got hit in the eye after Lasik, that the flap could come back up (a lasik operation involves creating a thin flap on the eye). Sometimes these flaps get "torn off and winds up on the ground, and you either have to clean it off and sew it back as best as you can, or you can't find it and the person sees badly for the rest of their life. Every LASIK surgeon has seen this if he's practiced for enough years," explains Dr. Chynn.

3. Botching the Prescription

If the doctor incorrectly sets the laser for your vision repair need, you can end up with the wrong correction. Dr. Chynn speaks the truth, saying, "this is like really bad."

Some additional Lasik risks to consider: dry eye and reverting back to your bad eyesight.

Regardless of how remote or real the risk from surgery, I find myself using the RealSelf community to gain confidence in the decision. I've enjoyed reading about other's experiences and the answers shared each day by our Lasik medical experts.

Photo Credit: Dr. Cary Silverman

Comments (21)

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Thanks for your awesome information, your current contents are generally quiet interesting.I is usually waiting for that after that post. Glaucoma Surgery
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Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here. Eye Doctor San Antonio
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I am two weeks post-op.... My right eye is still slightly blurry and my dry-eye is subsiding (it was really bad while on the Vigamox). I can say though that I was very worried after surgery. Everyone I talked to had eagle vision an hour after they got home. I woke up and it was very hard to focus even after the haze went away. Everything in my house was pretty clear and watching TV was no problem but to go outside and look around was still out of focus. I started to regret the surgery because my vision was not as sharp as it was in my contacts and I knew I could never go back. After I got off of the steroids and the Vigamox though the next day my vision was pretty clear and keeps improving. My right eye still feels slightly underpowered compared to my left eye, like a dirty contact feeling. My right eye is still much more dry than my left and needs a lot of drops. I could read the 20/15 line super clear one eye at a time and then he let me try the 20/10 eye with both eyes. I could see 3/5 letters! My vision probably hasn't fully stabilized yet but fingers crossed I have no regression. My vision is now better than contacts, better than 20/20 and real life seems like an HD movie!
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To date the only negative side effects that i've noticed are a "ghost contact" feeling in my right eye. Because this eye is slightly blurry it feels like a dirty contact and i want to take it out and clean it but it is my eye lol.... I've worn contacts pretty much everyday for 20 years! The other is the "halos" and "starburst" especially at night. During the day I hardly notice it. White cars have a slight halo and certain lights. the sunlight reflecting off of glass and chrome have a prism like starburst effect. At night my vision is good and clear but the halos and starburst are very bad, especially when pulling up to a red light in traffic. My vision is pretty much washed in red! I had some trouble on a dark street with a car coming in the opposite direction, the starburst was so bad it blocked nearly all of my field of vision! Like I said above though it's only been two weeks.... My eyes are still healing so I am patient. In six months though If I don't notice a change I'm going to be pretty disappointed.
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I hope you heal perfectly; if you have a minute, I know others would love to follow your experience and healing process. You can post your story here

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I recently underwent lasik.I must admit, I was a nervous wreck too before I underwent the surgery! I chose ReLEx Lasik surgery where they don't create a flap and the machine ensures sufficient precision. I sat with my Lasik Surgeon at Advanced Eye Hospital for a good half an hour and did not leave before all my doubts had cleared. I think that is the best thing to do: Find a doctor you can trust and have a heart-to-heart!
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After reading this blog, I am more scared now, then I was. The idea of surgery scares me, especially on my eyes. I rather wear glasses, but it would be nice to have my full 20/20 vision back. My friend was as scared as I was to get all laser lasik done on her eyes, but she went through with it. I was praying for her well being and it worked out great. Her vision was better then before. I know she was searching around for a while in order to find the perfect doctor to get the job done, until she came across http://www.2020eyesite.com/. Everyone has to be cautious as to what doctor they choose to work on their body. I know that from experience. Hope this finds everyone well. Thank You again!
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Thank you for this blog. Blindness has always been my fear with Lasik surgery. I rather wear glasses then get surgery and not be able to see again. I have been having eye trouble for a year now and hate the idea of wearing glasses though. My friend just had surgery on her eyes and used all laser lasik. With this type of surgery, it can be tricky. The surgeon needs to create a corneal flap. And this can be accomplished using a mechanical instrument called a microkeratome, or a femtosecond laser. I heard that it is thought that there may be more precision in some patients using the femtosecond laser as to the thickness of the flap and to the universal form contour. I personally, have to find the right doctor to get the job done, and know that my outcome will not be blindness. Hope this helps many out. Thank you again. I loved the reading. Have a great day
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I actually commend Dr. Chynn for being upfront and factual about the risks. Many surgeons downplay risks until you are handed a very long, fine print waiver of liability right before surgery. Then, what do you do?

I'd rather know the risks, study them, consider my needs and options, make an informed choice and go with it. Emil Chynn is blunt and fearless. That's what I would want in a surgeon. Tell it to me like it is. I have avoided surgery in the past because the surgeon seemed to be glossing over risks, padding their experience, or pushing me into what they specialize in when it was not the best choice for me.

When I called Dr. Chynn, he was clear and to the point. That's what I wanted. I contacted him through his website parkavenueLASEK.com and he responded with a phone number. I didn't feel rushed.

So, really, is this fear mongering, or is it respect for the patient? I would rather be treated like an intelligent person who can make their own judgement than to be coddled by a surgeon who wants to think for me.
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These are your eyes, and the best guarantee in laser eye surgery comes directly from your surgeon, equipment and the professional staff that support both. At Lasik Provision, laser vision correction is viewed as an art form. Dr. Andrew Taylor has hand selected an experienced team of individuals who are constantly striving to provide the finest in all aspects of your Lasik experience. Dr.Andrew Taylor personally performs your laser eye surgery. He has been serving the residents of South Western Ontario and the Northern United States for over 20 years. He can draw upon a personal experience of having performed over 100,000 successful Lasik procedures to achieve the results you desire. Lasik Provision has superior technology and Dr. Andrew Taylor has personally used every major laser platform that is used in North America today. He lectures internationally in the field of laser eye surgery and on laser platforms. He is involved in the regulatory studies for the approval of new devices and procedures. Dr. Andrew Taylor has chosen the Zeiss MEL 80 Excimer laser and the Visumax Femtosecond Laser as his preferred platforms. Carl Zeiss is internationally world renowned for their expertise in optics, there lenses are likely to be the ones you use at home in your cameras. There advanced engineering profiles which produce superlative predictable refractive outcomes which is what you want as a refractive eye patient. The Zeiss MEL 80 Excimer laser custom treats every eye with Wavefront technology. This laser is one of the fastest in the world; it uses dual eye tracking for accuracy and centration. It also uses aberration-optimized algorithms to reduce the incidence of night glare. Visual quality and stability is unsurpassed with this Laser. The MEL 80 laser has the newest technology providing correction for the presbyopic population.  It is known as Zeiss BLENDED VISION, and is based on the principal of micro mono vision. It allows the eyes to maintain stereo binocularity.  Both eyes are corrected for intermediate distance at all times with one eye having a range of vision extending to distance and the other eye having a range of vision extending to near. This creates a functional range of clear vision across all visual fields; near, intermediate and far. The laser reshapes the cornea using different power zones to create a positive spherical aberration; making the image disparity between the two eyes so small that the brain doesn’t notice which eye it is using for far and near. This is the most exciting device in laser eye surgery today; treating ‘old age eyes’. Lasik Provision is using the Zeiss VisuMax Femtosecond laser for all flap creation in laser eye surgery. Dr. Andrew Taylor is now only performing completely bladeless Lasik procedures as it provides maximum safety and comfort for the patient, as well as allows them to keep fixation during the entire procedure. It creates a thinner flap, allowing patients with thinner corneas an opportunity to have the potential for Lasik. It uses minimal energy, allowing more precision and less tissue disruption and therefore faster healing.
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I'm skeptical Dr. Taylor actually posted this.  If someone else thinks it's spam, let me know and it'll come down

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seems like a very lengthy spam in a can. :)
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No Dr. Taylor did post this
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what is this?andrew t. I responded 2 my inbox message. makes no difference 2 me. now i know it is a reply to website that goes 2 my inbox. i wonder who u r responding to andrew t? if u read oct. 16 post it is speaking about, not in 1st person. This is funny your post is like an advertisement anyway
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1,000 successful surgeries... How many unsuccessful surgeries? Individual results may vary.
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LASIK complications is the reason that Dr. Chynn switched to LASEK and Epi-LASEK, which are the non-cutting procedures and therefore 100% more safe because there is no more flap, which gets rid of any flap complication. Dr. Chynn is the only surgeon now that ONLY does the non cutting procedure because it does not cause the complications listed above. Check out the website, it has a lot of very informative information.I actually had done my surgery with Dr. Chynn because I was afraid of Lasik because of flap complications caused by the old LASIK. I am an active person and I couldn’t take the chance with LASIK.
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Thank u, and Tom for this info(without Tom Ref.? we would not be hearing this info. from laroslava). I now can go and look into the Lasek or epi. Before even reading Tom's personal viewpoint I was not going 2 get it done. I had actually met people who had success and problems after their surgery. I made my own decision due to my own health and recovery time. NOW I HAVE A BETTER OPTION for me personally! NO LASIK for me. Depending on the price and doctor, I may still not get the LASEK done.
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My intention of this post was to express my own anxieties associated with laser eye surgery.  Anxieties aren't rational and footed in statistics.

I'm very open and interested in knowing the true rate of complications for Lasik and other forms of vision correction.  Can you provide a reference that can assist? 

Thank you for the comment.

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Tom, your article reads like scaremongering. Everything in life has risks and benefits, but if you want to write a considered article about such risks, you do need to offer more of a balance and more information about the likelihood of such things happening, or tell readers how they can avoid such risks and complications, not just give them a general wave in the direction of "something awful might happen to you because it happened to someone once". This is extremely lazy reporting, and I can't see what purpose it serves other than to frighten people away without giving them enough details to make an informed decision.
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