3 Worst Lasik Complications

May people seem fearful of lasik and wonder what's the worst potential outcome. Is it true that one bad complication could be a irreversibly scarred cornea which means a cornea transplant?   Is there a risk of blindness? Is the third double vision? Or something else?

Doctor Answers 2

Infection and inflammation would top the LASIK complication list

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LASIK is very safe, but no surgery is risk free. Infection and inflammation would top the complication list.  Using the most advanced technology by a very experienced surgeon can greatly reduce risks.

New York Ophthalmologist

LASEK LASIK flap dislocation CustomVue Hi-Def iris registration flap complications

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The worst LASIK complications are probably:

There have been very rare cases of people going blind, like there was a reported case of a woman with atherosclerosis in Italy, where the blood didn't return in her eye after the LASIK suction ring was removed. 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. I remember this is the scary part in my own LASIK in 1999, it feels like you have an elephant stepping on your eye, and the surgeon says "lights out."

Also, you can get hit in the eye afterwards, even years afterwards, and the flap comes back up, and sometimes gets 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.

None of these complications is even possible if you get a hi-def customvue wavefront LASEK. First of all no flap is cut, so you don't have to pressurize the eye, so the blood flow is never cut off, the lights never go off, so you cannot go blind. Second, no flap means no flap to come back up. If you get hit in the eye, all you have is a black eye. Finally, if you do hi-def the laser maps your RX and iris landmarks uniquely for your eye, so it's impossible to laser the wrong patient, as the laser will recognize your iris is not the same. It's actually more fail-safe than using a fingerprint, as the iris has more variability and landmarks.

Emil William Chynn, MD, FACS, MBA
New York Ophthalmologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.