For the majority of laser eye surgery patients, side effects are mild. Usually the side effects will subside within the first 6 weeks or so after surgery. Some disappear in just days. Many will experience mild fluctuations in vision each day. This side effect usually disappears in about 6 months.
The side effects of laser surgery often are mild. Three of the most common are a lack of crispness of vision, dry eyes, and glare, halos or starbursts.
Lack of crispness of vision is described as ‘loss of contrast sensitivity’ which often will dissipate about 6 months after surgery. The loss of sharpness of the vision is most noticeable if the patient did wear gas permeable contact lenses before the surgery.
Dry eye is an easily diagnosed eye condition, usually treated with preservative-free eye drops. Dry eyes occur frequently in the population over 40 years of age whether laser eye surgery has occurred or not. Symptoms of dry eye range from mild intermittent dryness each day, to all day long blurry vision. Many times those with dry eye see more glares. For more persistent cases, a punctual plug can be used to provide relief. While a patient can treat dry eye with over the counter eye drops, it is strongly recommended that a doctor be consulted early for a professional diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Glare is experienced by many laser eye surgery patients which results in decreased night vision. This is usually a temporary condition, resolving in about 6 weeks. Some patients see halos or starbursts at night. There are several possible causes of the problems with night vision. One is normal mild post surgical swelling. Another cause may be dry eye or incomplete correction of the nearsightedness or astigmatism. It is rare, but can happen, that the laser surgery may have some mild irregularities. There are several ways to handle the night vision problems. Eye drops, additional surgery, and toric contact lenses are all options to be considered by doctor and patient.
Some nearsighted and farsighted patients will experience an overcorrection, sometimes done deliberately, to compensate for the swelling occurring with the surgery. Before additional surgery is recommended, doctors like to wait 3 to 6 months to see if the healing process will take care of it. It is not unheard of, that some surgical patients experience regression. Sometimes occurring quickly, sometimes slowly, regression can also be corrected by additional surgery. Contacting your doctor whenever changes do occur in the vision is advised.
In a small percentage of the patients a condition referred to as diffuse lamellar keratitis occurs. This condition is easily detected by the doctor and easily treated. There will be no significant vision loss if the condition is treated early. This is just one more good reason to strictly follow the post operative appointments scheduled for you.