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Recovering from laser surgery

All surgical procedures are associated with risks, even though they may be minimal. Each patient is unique and therefore treated according to an individual treatment plan. Refractive LASIK or surface laser surgery is associated with the following side effects:
 
Problems with dry eyes are very common for the first few months following the procedure. The symptoms are a foreign body sensation or burning in the eye, sensitivity to light, and tired eyes. Dry eyes are treated with eye drops, which you will get from us when you are discharged from care and later from your pharmacy without a prescription. The symptoms usually lessen or disappear within six months of the operation.
 
Light sensitivity primarily occurs during the first few days following the procedure. The eye is most sensitive to light on the day of the procedure. It may continue to be more light sensitive than usual for the first few months following the procedure. We will provide you with dark glasses which prevent you from being blinded by light and, at the same time, protect the eye. We generally recommend that you use sunglasses when the weather is sunny.
 
Contrast sensitivity and night vision can weaken immediately after the procedure, but usually return to normal within half a year. These problems can be linked to seeing rings around lights and to light sensitivity. This problem decreases significantly when the diameter of the optical zone had been increased to 6 mm. At Diacor, we have the equipment needed to customise the flap and make sure that the optical zone is always at least 6 mm.
 
Over- or under-correction means that the achieved refractive power deviates from the set target value. The goal is to achieve a result where the eye’s refractive power is within 0.50 D of the target. If the over- or under-correction exceeds this, a warranty procedure to rectify the problem can be discussed. It is also possible, albeit rare, that the operation causes irregular astigmatism. According to research (2), the risk is 0-1%.
 
The flap formation during LASIK surgery can be affected by factors which are impossible to predict, even with a thorough preoperative assessment. The equipment used to create the flap is checked and calibrated before each procedure. The risk for flap-related complications is small, 1-2%, when the procedure is performed by an experienced surgeon. Diacor’s eye surgeons Timo Hellstedt and Tapio Ihanamäki, have successfully operated on thousands of patients. The most common flap-related complication is flap dislocation during the healing stage, i.e. within one month of the procedure. If this occurs, the flap must be reopened and straightened. Flap dislocation can occur as a result of, for instance, intense rubbing or a blow to the eye during the first month following the procedure. Less common complications can result in decreased uncorrected and best corrected visual acuity or changes to the optical properties of the cornea.
 
Corneal surface tissue (epithelium) can grow under the flap after the procedure. It normally disappears by itself, but if necessary, it can be removed surgically. Any epithelial ingrowth is monitored as part of the postoperative care.
 
Corneal infections are extremely rare after LASIK or surface laser surgery. Infections are prevented through good hygiene practices, careful maintenance of the surgical equipment, postoperative antibiotics and advice on postoperative care of the treated eye.
 
Corneal scarring (haze) is an abnormal healing reaction of the corneal surface cells. Mild corneal scarring often occurs after surface laser surgery, during the early healing phase, 1-4 months after the procedure. The corneal scarring usually starts to disappear within 3-6 months of the procedure. The risk for corneal scarring is slightly higher when surface laser surgery is used to correct larger refractive errors. To reduce the risk for corneal scarring, the eye is treated with cortisone eye drops after the procedure, usually for the first 1-3 months. Sunlight increases the risk for corneal scarring, so we recommend that you wear UV-blocking sunglasses in sunny weather, especially after surface laser surgery. It is particularly important to protect the eyes in the spring, when you are close to water and during holidays abroad. LASIK surgery is not considered to cause a risk for corneal scarring. Any corneal scarring is monitored as part of the postoperative care.
 
Cortisone eye drops can temporarily increase eye pressure. The situation is monitored through eye pressure measurements during the follow-up visits. Increased eye pressure is mostly seen after surface laser surgery, when cortisone eye drops are used for longer, normally for around 3 months. The eye pressure normalises when the cortisone treatment has ended. If necessary, it can also be reduced with eye drops during the cortisone treatment.
 
Corneal protrusion (ectasia) is a condition caused by the thinning of the cornea. It is caused by the cornea being too thin. To prevent this, the suitability of the procedure and surgical techniques is assessed during the preoperative assessment, to make sure that the cornea is not thinned below the safe minimum limit.
 
Pain mainly occurs after surface laser surgery. We will provide you with painkillers to relieve the pain. After LASIK surgery, you may experience watery eyes, a foreign body sensation or burning in the eye. LASIK surgery does not cause pain afterwards.
 
The eye does not become more sensitive to impact after LASIK or surface laser surgery (2).
 
The statistical risk of retinal detachment is primarily linked to high myopia. Corneal vision correction surgery does not affect this risk. If you have any questions relating to vision correction surgery, you are welcome to contact our eye care unit.
 
 

SOURCES:

 
(1) Lasik World Literature Review: Quality of Life and Patient Satisfaction. 2009 American Academy of Ophtalmology.
 
(2) Taittovirheiden kirurginen hoito. Duodecim 5/2002. Suomen Silmälääkäriyhdistys ry. Current Care Guidelines