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Risks of Adverse Effects Associated with LASIK Surgery

LASIK eye surgery is a common procedure, wherein ultraviolet lasers are used to alter the curvature of a patient’s cornea to improve eyesight. However, patient reports and recent studies claim that patients who undergo the procedure can suffer from long term pain and adverse side effects.

Laser eye surgery has been touted as a promising alternative to living with mild-to-severe vision problems. First approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than twenty years ago, this surgery is intended to correct vision problems that require the use of glasses or contacts by altering the cornea—the area that serves as the eye’s outermost lens and controls the levels of light entering the eye. During LASIK eye surgery, doctors use UV lasers to reshape the cornea with the intent of adjusting the way the eye focuses light on the retina. The surgery—which was performed more than 600,000 times in 2017—is said to take less than 15 minutes, and is claimed to be “virtually foolproof” according to many doctors and advocates.

Are There Serious Risks Associated with LASIK?

While there are risks associated with any surgical procedure, advocates for LASIK have continually alleged that the surgery is infallible, and that it is a safe and effective alternative to other corrective vision options. Recent studies and patient claims, however, suggest that the surgery can cause long-term pain and adverse effects for the patient. These include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Impaired vision
  • Chronic Pain
  • Glare
  • Halo effects

A recent study conducted by the FDA concluded that many participants who had not reported visual symptoms at the “baseline, developed symptoms following the procedure.” Researchers also found that, moving forward, additional risk counseling was needed prior to surgery to help patients understand the possibility of new symptoms developing. Other studies suggest that patients who undergo LASIK are at increased risk for complications including corneal ectasia—a condition that often leads to the worsening of a patient’s vision and additional corrective measures.

Critics of these claims suggest that mild effects, such as soreness, dry eyes, and visual aberrations, are common, and often subside within weeks of surgery. They also contend that severe side effects, such as those claimed by patients and their advocates, are a rare complication of the allegedly safe procedure.

Taking Action to Improve Transparency

Patient advocates are urging the FDA to improve transparency regarding the possible negative side effects by issuing stronger warnings for the procedure. These claims are not the first heard by the FDA, as patients testified about the negative effects of the procedure, including severe pain and worsening vision, in an FDA hearing in 2008. Both patients and doctors continue to argue that LASIK needs to be held to a higher safety standard, and that additional warnings are needed to ensure that potential patients of the optional procedure are fully aware of the risks.

Seeking Help

Patients who have undergone LASIK eye surgery, and are suffering from reduced vision, dry eyes, severe pain or other adverse effects should consult with their doctor. Should these symptoms persist after counseling and proper treatment, a second opinion is merited to ensure that the symptoms are receiving the treatment and attention needed.

For more than 60 years, The Law Offices of Peter Angelos has served as a personal injury victims’ advocate for medical patients and families across the country. Our attorneys are actively monitoring the information published regarding the effects of LASIK surgery, and are available to speak with patients about their potential legal options. For more information, or to speak with an experienced attorney, contact us today.