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What are the Risks with LASIK?

What are the risks and how can I find the right doctor for me?

Most patients are very pleased with the results of their refractive surgery. However, like any other medical procedure, there are risks involved. That’s why it is important for you to understand the limitations and possible complications of refractive surgery.

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Before undergoing a refractive procedure, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits based on your own personal value system, and try to avoid being influenced by friends that have had the procedure or doctors encouraging you to do so.

  • Some patients lose vision. Some patients lose lines of vision on the vision chart that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery as a result of treatment.
  • Some patients develop debilitating visual symptoms. Some patients develop glare, halos, and/or double vision that can seriously affect nighttime vision. Even with good vision on the vision chart, some patients do not see as well in situations of low contrast, such as at night or in fog, after treatment as compared to before treatment.
  • You may be under treated or over treated. Only a certain percent of patients achieve 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts. You may require additional treatment, but additional treatment may not be possible. You may still need glasses or contact lenses after surgery. This may be true even if you only required a very weak prescription before surgery. If you used reading glasses before surgery, you may still need reading glasses after surgery.
  • Some patients may develop severe dry eye syndrome.  As a result of surgery, your eye may not be able to produce enough tears to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Dry eye not only causes discomfort, but can reduce visual quality due to intermittent blurring and other visual symptoms. This condition may be permanent. Intensive drop therapy and use of plugs or other procedures may be required.
  • Results are generally not as good in patients with very large refractive errors of any type. You should discuss your expectations with your doctor and realize that you may still require glasses or contacts after the surgery.
  • For some farsighted patients, results may diminish with age. If you are farsighted, the level of improved vision you experience after surgery may decrease with age. This can occur if your manifest refraction (a vision exam with lenses before dilating drops) is very different from your cycloplegic refraction (a vision exam with lenses after dilating drops).
  • Long-term data are not available. LASIK is a relatively new technology. The first laser was approved for LASIK eye surgery in 1998. Therefore, the long-term safety and effectiveness of LASIK surgery is not known.

Additional Risks if you are Considering the Following:

  • Monovision

Monovision is one clinical technique used to deal with the correction of presbyopia, the gradual loss of the ability of the eye to change focus for close-up tasks that progresses with age. The intent of monovision is for the presbyopic patient to use one eye for distance viewing and one eye for near viewing. This practice was first applied to fit contact lens wearers and more recently to LASIK and other refractive surgeries. With contact lenses, a presbyopic patient has one eye fit with a contact lens to correct distance vision, and the other eye fit with a contact lens to correct near vision. In the same way, with LASIK, a presbyopic patient has one eye operated on to correct the distance vision, and the other operated on to correct the near vision. In other words, the goal of the surgery is for one eye to have vision worse than 20/20, the commonly referred to goal for LASIK surgical correction of distance vision. Since one eye is corrected for distance viewing and the other eye is corrected for near viewing, the two eyes no longer work together. This results in poorer quality vision and a decrease in depth perception. These effects of monovision are most noticeable in low lighting conditions and when performing tasks requiring very sharp vision. Therefore, you may need to wear glasses or contact lenses to fully correct both eyes for distance or near when performing visually demanding tasks, such as driving at night, operating dangerous equipment, or performing occupational tasks requiring very sharp close vision (e.g., reading small print for long periods of time).

Many patients cannot get used to having one eye blurred at all times. Therefore, if you are considering monovision with LASIK, make sure you go through a trial period with contact lenses to see if you can tolerate monovision, before having the surgery performed on your eyes. Find out if you pass your state’s driver’s license requirements with monovision.

In addition, you should consider how much your presbyopia is expected to increase in the future. Ask your doctor when you should expect the results of your monovision surgery to no longer be enough for you to see near-by objects clearly without the aid of glasses or contacts, or when a second surgery might be required to further correct your near vision.

  • Bilateral Simultaneous Treatment

You may choose to have LASIK surgery on both eyes at the same time or to have surgery on one eye at a time. Although the convenience of having surgery on both eyes on the same day is attractive, this practice is riskier than having two separate surgeries.

If you decide to have one eye done at a time, you and your doctor will decide how long to wait before having surgery on the other eye. If both eyes are treated at the same time or before one eye has a chance to fully heal, you and your doctor do not have the advantage of being able to see how the first eye responds to surgery before the second eye is treated.

Another disadvantage to having surgery on both eyes at the same time is that the vision in both eyes may be blurred after surgery until the initial healing process is over, rather than being able to rely on clear vision in at least one eye at all times.

Finding the Right Doctor.  If you are considering refractive surgery, make sure you:

  • Compare. The levels of risk and benefit vary slightly not only from procedure to procedure, but from device to device depending on the manufacturer, and from surgeon to surgeon depending on their level of experience with a particular procedure.
  • Don’t base your decision simply on cost and don’t settle for the first eye center, doctor, or procedure you investigate. Remember that the decisions you make about your eyes and refractive surgery will affect you for the rest of your life.
  • Be wary of eye centers that advertise, “$299 an eye!” or “package deals.” It's a bait-and-switch tactic in most cases. 
  • Read. It is important for you to read the patient handbook provided to your doctor by the manufacturer of the device used to perform the refractive procedure. Your doctor should provide you with this handbook and be willing to discuss his/her outcomes (successes as well as complications) compared to the results of studies outlined in the handbook.

Even the best screened patients under the care of most skilled surgeons can experience serious complications.

  • During surgery. Malfunction of a device or other error, such as cutting a flap of cornea through and through instead of making a hinge during LASIK surgery, may lead to discontinuation of the procedure or irreversible damage to the eye.
  • After surgery. Some complications, such as migration of the flap, inflammation or infection, may require another procedure and/or intensive treatment with drops. Even with aggressive therapy, such complications may lead to temporary loss of vision or even irreversible blindness.

Under the care of an experienced doctor, carefully screened candidates with reasonable expectations and a clear understanding of the risks and alternatives are likely to be happy with the results of their refractive procedure.

Advertising.  Be cautious about “slick” advertising and/or deals that sound “too good to be true.” Remember, they usually are. There is a lot of competition resulting in a great deal of advertising and bidding for your business. Do your homework.

If you want to know more about advertising ethics, do’s and don’ts, or want to report on false advertising, explore the nearby Useful Links.

If you would like to learn more about LASIK, please contact Woodhams Eye Clinic to schedule your personal consultation.

Local Reviews

Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars based on 32 customer reviews

Map of Smyrna, GA

Great doctor, no regrets




Dr Woodham is one of the best doctors for lasik/PRK. Highly recommend his office if you are considering lasik


Map of Atlanta, GA

Best Medical Experience- Ever




I was treated with the utmost care and respect from every staff member. I was most impressed that throughout my entire procedure, there was a nurse gently rubbing my leg for comfort.


Map of Norcross, GA

Great customer care and service!




After my PRK surgery, I am seeing 20/10 and my astigmatism has been eliminated in one eye and reduced to .25 in the other. Could not be happier with my new vision!


Map of Cleveland, GA

"Like getting brand new eyes!"




I've been going to Dr. Woodhams for 20 years and trust him completely. With the new PreLex surgery, I feel like I have brand new eyes. I can see perfectly to read and in the distance, and everything in between. It's a miracle with no pain and no long recuperation. Up and going the next day. Can't thank you enough Dr. Woodhams!


Map of Locust Grove, GA

I Can See Again!




After having been told for the past 13 years that my astigmatism couldn't be treated either via contact lenses or surgically, I was resigned to live with progressive lenses for the remainder of my life. My husband was frustrated with my dependence upon glasses and sunglasses whenever he wanted to show something to me on the computer, asked me to read an instruction manual to him, etc. He researched the top eye surgeons in the metro Atlanta area and spoke with many people who had procedures performed by Dr. Trevor Woodhams at Woodhams Eye Clinic. He urged me to make an appointment for a consultation, which I did in an effort to prove to him that my now-former ophthalmologist was correct. Boy was I ever wrong! Not only was I a candidate for contact lenses, but surgical intervention had been available to me for quite some time. Dr. Woodhams chose to perform the Presby-Fix procedure on me with LASIK in my non-dominant eye. I have been thrilled with the results ever since I had the procedure in February of 2017. I can read signs along the interstate system and I am able to read 10 point or bigger font sizes without need for progressive lenses. Dr. Woodhams and his staff are the best!


Map of Buckhead, GA

There is none better




You want to have trust and confidence in the team that works on your eyes. There is none better than the staff at Woodhams.


Map of Decatur, GA

Excellent!




Best opthmologist in Atlanta area


Map of Woodstock, GA

Exceptional Outcome




I am absolutely amazed with my vision! Just a week ago I had my 2nd PreLex surgery, and today I am working, with ZERO corrective eye wear! No contacts! No prescription glasses! My own eyes are clearly seeing my monitors, my cell phone, near, far, tiny printed documents, everything! As someone who had to begin wearing glasses as young as 8 years old, this is a dream come true! Ever person I have dealt with at Woodhams has made me feel like their number one priority on every visit. Thank you SO much Dr. Woodhams and staff!


Map of Lawrenceville, GA

Great experience





Map of Marietta, GA

Professionalism and personal care




They fulfilled my dream: to once again see clearly without glasses. Welcome back Quality of Life!


Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

Prelex with a multifocal IOL was completed 2 weeks ago! She says her vision is great now! She can see 20/16 and read P5, and she doesn't even need glasses!

Near Hwy 255 S, Cleveland, GA 30528
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had a YAG laser to improve the vision after she developed a haze over her vision post Prelex with Multifocal IOLs in 2014. This has restored her vision back to how it was right after surgery! She can see 20/20 and read P5 again!

Near Meadowvale Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30345
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had Prelex with a Tecnis Multifocal IOL 2 weeks ago, she can see 20/12.5 and read P5, all without glasses or contacts! She is happy she can now see without any glasses!

Near Dawson Village Way N, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He had a YAG to remove the haze 8 years after his Prelex with Crystalens. The vision improved very quickly over the first 3 days! He is happy to have his vision restored!

Near Blue Pine Ct, Jasper, GA 30143
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had cataract surgery 2 days ago and is already so thrilled! She had Prelex with a Multifocal IOL and can already read and drive without any glasses! She said this was the thing to save her life from glasses, which she couldn't wear comfortably!

Near Crompton Ct N, Atlanta, GA 30350
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had her cataracts removed 76 days ago, and she can now see 20/16 without any glasses! She can drive without glasses now! SHe is so happy!

Near Long Beach Cir, Atlanta, GA 30350
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had a cell scrape to improve her vision after her LASIK is 2002 and her lens implants in 2015. She can now see 20/20 for distance and read P4 again! She is happy!

Near Lyman Dr, Marietta, GA 30060
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He had LASIK 64 days ago, and he is seeing 20/20 without glasses! He is very happy and has no complaints!

Near Wood Valley Trce, Roswell, GA 30076
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He had PRK 12 days ago and he LOVES his vision! So happy he can now drive without glasses. He is seeing 20/16!!!!

Near Golden Leaf Grove, Norcross, GA 30092
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had Prelex with a Tecnis Multifocal 1 month ago, She is EXTREMELY happy! She doesnt need any glasses at all! She is so happy she chose Woodhams Eye Clinic!

Near Declaire Way NE, Marietta, GA 30067
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had Prelex 1 week ago on her second eye, and is now seeing 20/20 for distance and can read point 5 print without glasses! She cant believe it!

Near Audubon Dr, Marietta, GA 30068
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had PRELEX 1 day ago In one eye and 1 month ago in the other, she is able to drive without glasses and also able to read without correction! After 1 day she is already 20/20!!!

Near Hwy 255 S, Cleveland, GA 30528
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He had PRK treatment 1 month ago and is seeing 20/20 without any glasses! Before his treatment, he was only able to read the 20/80 line without his glasses! Now he can drive and do all activates without any contacts or glasses! Way to go!

Near Vernon Springs Dr, Dunwoody, GA 30338
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He had PRK 3 months ago and can now see 20/12.5 without any glasses or contacts! Before his Custom PRK treatment, he could only read the 20/150 line! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! He is so happy he can see again!

Near Ashling SE, Smyrna, GA 30080
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She has Presbyfix with the Raindrop inlay and she can read without reading glasses now! She also had LASIK to correct her distance vision so she no longer has to wear glasses for anything! Very happy patient!

Near Melrah Hill, Peachtree City, GA 30269
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She has ICL surgery and can now see 20/16! She can see everything in the distance without her glasses or contacts! She has keratoconus and LASIK was not an option, but the ICL has changed her life!

Near Fall Creek Trce, Roswell, GA 30076
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He has LASIK 1 week ago, and is seeing 20/16 with no glasses or contact lenses! First time he can drive without glasses and see great! He is very happy!

Near Wildglen Dr, Suwanee, GA 30024
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

He had cataract removal and can now read the 20/16 line and drive without glasses! He is very happy he can read street signs and not search for his glasses!

Near Corinth Dr, Gainesville, GA 30506
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

She had CustomVue LASIK and can see the 20/16 line with out any glasses or contacts for the first time in a long time! VERY happy after her LASIK!

Near Reece Rd, Powder Springs, GA 30127
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

Prelex on both eyes 1 week ago, now she can see without any glasses for distance and near! Reading p5 and seeing 20/16! She says her vision is GREAT!

Near Declaire Way NE, Marietta, GA 30067
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

Prelex with Multifocal IOL 1 week ago! Pt is doing great and can see without glasses already!

Near Westwood Rd, Douglasville, GA 30134
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

Prelex with Tecnis Multifocal IOL IOL 8 days ago, already seeing 20/20 and reading P5!

Near Perimeter Center E, Atlanta, GA 30346
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

Prelex with Crystalens 11 days ago and even after having RK surgery he is already able to see 20/20 and read P4 without any glasses! He is very happy!

Near N Superior Ave, Decatur, GA 30033
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

LASIK 1 week ago. Seeing 20/12.5 with no glasses!

Near Luke Edwards Rd, Dacula, GA 30019
Woodhams E.

Woodhams E.

Had Prelex 8 days ago, and already seeing 20/20 and not needing any reading glasses! Very happy!

Near Gladstone Terrace, Woodstock, GA 30189