There are numerous cases of corneal ectasia happening after Lasik. How can a procedure like Lasik be safe if it induces corneal ectasia years after Lasik surgery? What are the risk factors?
Is Lasik Safe or Dangerous?
Doctor Answers (3)
LASIK is Very Safe - Ectasia is Typically Due to Undiagnosed Keratoconus
Corneal ectasia is actually quite rare, in the neighborhood of 4 per 10,000 LASIK surgeries.
This is much lower than the complication rate after almost any other surgery. The growing consensus is that the LASIK does not actually cause the ectasia, but rather that patients with undiagnosed Keratoconus(a corneal disease) often seek out LASIK because they do not see well with glasses.
When the Keratoconus becomes worse even years after the LASIK, the condition is then attributed to the LASIK surgery. As a result, the risk factors for ectasia are the same as those for Keratoconus, thin corneas, young age, abnormal corneal maps, high astigmatism. Most surgeons now use the Randleman Criteria and will not perform surgery on any patients with risk factors to prevent this from happening.
When someone is diagnosed with Keratoconus, they are NOT a candidate for LASIK.
LASIK Risk Factors
The risk factors for corneal ectasia include thin cornea, high myopia, irregularly shaped cornea, and certain systemic and ocular diseases.
LASIK is generally considered a very safe surgery. Some might argue that the one time procedure is safer than a lifetime of contact lenses. Certainly glasses would be the safest option but people who seek LASIK want the freedom and convenience that it provides.
LASIK is a surgery. Every surgery carries risks. These risks are relative to the patient. As surgeries go, LASIK is extremely safe. So long as you see an experienced doctor who does a full screening, you will be in good hands. I recommend sticking with corneal fellowship trained refractive surgeons.