Is LASIK, the laser eye surgery to correct vision errors, safe?

The US FDA approved LASIK eye surgery more than two decades ago as a safe alternative to glasses and contact lenses. However, a new guidance draft, which is still being reviewed by the FDA, may change the way we look at LASIK.

LASIK is a surgical procedure intended to reduce a person’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses, according to the FDA.

The cornea helps focus light to create an image on the retina. The bending and focusing of light in other words is known as refraction.

Notably, the eye and the shape of the cornea can be imperfect, thus resulting in the image on the retina being out-of-focus, i.e. blurred or distorted. These errors in the focusing power of the eye are termed refractive errors.

FDA recently released a 25-page draft recommending new guidance, which talks about LASIK’s risks and potential complications, for people who are considering the surgery.

The agency shared warnings, including information on the risks of double vision, dry eyes, ongoing pain, seeing halos around objects, a need for glasses, and other issues caused by the surgery.

FDA’s new guidelines say that patients considering the LASIK procedure should be given a “decision checklist” and a list mentioning the potential side effects to review before surgery.

Additionally, it said for those with characteristics such as “cornea not thick enough”, eye inflammation, active autoimmune or connective tissue disease, uncontrolled glaucoma, and uncontrolled diabetes, LASIK might be unsafe.