How safe is laser eye surgery?

Like any surgery, laser eye surgery carries some risks for the patient. Most surgeons who specialize in laser eye surgery claim that while not every patient experiences corrected vision, the risks of serious complications are low. Though this may be true, there are some complications that may warrant more concern.

The most common complication is failure to correct vision. Some patients who undergo laser eye surgery need a second surgery. Since most health insurance plans do not cover laser eye surgery, this is an expense the patient must incur. In some cases, little or no vision correction is achieved. This makes laser eye surgery a financial risk as well as a health risk. While every potential candidate for laser eye surgery is supposed to be examined to determine if they are a valid candidate, you should be certain that your surgeon and his staff are experienced and competent enough to make that determination.

Other potential complications that have been known to result from laser eye surgery include increased dry eye symptoms, blurred night vision, and “halo” vision. In addition, some people experience worse vision than before the surgery. These are all potential risks that should be properly explained to you before you undergo laser eye surgery.

The most serious complications are rarer, but have occurred. They include corneal damage and loss of vision. Again, these complications, though rare, are very serious and should be thoroughly explained by your surgeon – not a member of his staff – before your surgery.

There have been over a million cases of successful laser eye surgery in the United States alone. If you feel the potential benefits far outweigh the risks, there are measures you can take to increase your odds of success. Choose a surgeon who is experienced and remember that older does not necessarily mean better. Because laser eye surgery has only been around a short number of years, it only matters how many surgeries your doctor has performed – not the number of years they’ve been in practice.

Make sure the facility you choose allows you to consult with the surgeon prior to the day of surgery and that your evaluation is thorough. There is a specific procedure for determining candidacy for laser eye surgery. An inexperienced doctor could misdiagnose a condition that is causing your vision problems and that condition may not be responsive to laser eye surgery. If you undergo the surgery, make sure you follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions exactly.

In the end, if you can afford laser eye surgery, have found a competent doctor that you are comfortable with and they have discussed all the potential risk factors with you, then you stand a good chance of reaping the benefits of the surgery. While laser eye surgery is not the most dangerous of all surgeries, it is not fail-proof. You may very well walk out with improved vision, which would be a blessing to anyone with poor vision, but be sure you have realistic expectations.

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