Is LASIK Safe? What You Need to Know



People who struggle with vision issues often wonder if a laser vision correction procedure such as LASIK might be a better option for them than glasses or contact lenses. For those who take the next step to look into LASIK eye surgery, frequently the first question that comes to mind is: Is LASIK safe? In reality, when people considering LASIK ask if it’s safe, they’re really asking two questions:


Is LASIK a safe surgical procedure? And,Is LASIK safe for my eyes?


The answer to the first question is a resounding —Yes! Answering the second question requires an investment of time on the part of the patient. This is because the only way to answer the second question accurately is for the patient to have a thorough evaluation as part of a LASIK consultation with an eye care professional.  This is an incredibly important step in the process for deciding if LASIK is right for you and your vision, which directly determines the safety of the procedure when it comes to your own eyes.


A few basic facts that many patients find very comforting include:


LASIK has been around for nearly 20 years. The procedure was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1999. LASIK’s longevity and sustained popularity is due largely to its impressive record for both safety and effectiveness.


Below is an overview of the technological, clinical and scientific support of LASIK safety.


Is LASIK Surgery safe?

Millions of LASIK procedures have been performed in the world with very high patient satisfaction in visual outcomes. The high rate of patient satisfaction, more than 96 percent according to the most recent clinical data, is due in part to the extremely low risk of complications from the surgery.  


Another fact patients find a lot of comfort in is that LASIK is one of the most studied elective procedures performed today:


From 1993-2005, more than 9,000 patients participated in FDA clinical trials testing LASIK safety and outcomes.Since then, a tremendous amount of clinical research into LASIK has been conducted. To date more than 7,000 peer-reviewed published studies confirm the procedure is both safe and effective as well as look into other important aspects of LASIK.


How safe is LASIK?

From a statistical perspective, an enormous amount of clinical data clearly answers the question – How safe is LASIK?  A few of the most compelling data points include:


As a point for reference, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration threshold for safety is less than 5 percent, confirming LASIK far surpasses the standard for safety.


LASIK is a safe and effective option for vision correction. Having concerns about the safety of the surgery and your eyesight is normal. You owe it to yourself and your vision to research the procedure thoroughly so you fully understand the risks and benefits. For those who are weighing their vision correction options, they may be interested in the technologies that go into making LASIK a safe procedure.


What makes LASIK safe?

LASIK uses advanced computer-driven laser technology to reshape the cornea with microscopic precision. The high degree of precision and accuracy afforded by this combination of technologies helps ensure patient safety.


Your personal anatomy and vision are measured in high definition detail during the pre-operative evaluation of your eyes. That data is then programmed by the surgeon into the LASIK platform to customize the treatment plan to your unique requirements.


Many patients are concerned about moving during the procedure. The tracking system built into the laser that follows your eye will also temporarily turn off the laser if you move significantly (such as a cough or sneeze). Once you are safely repositioned under the laser, the procedure can resume.


The LASIK procedure is performed using the excimer laser – which emits a cool beam of ultraviolet light – to remove microscopic pieces of corneal tissue (the cornea is the outer structure of the eye) and reshape the surface, allowing the eye to focus clearly again. Today, many surgeons use a precision instrument called a femtosecond laser to create the corneal flap at the beginning of LASIK surgery. It operates at ultra-fast speeds and uses an extremely short pulse duration (measured in femtoseconds, hence the name) to create the flap without disrupting the surrounding corneal tissue.


When making the decision about whether or not to have a laser vision correction procedure such as LASIK, it is normal to want to be assured that LASIK is safe.  By every scientific and clinical standard, LASIK is among the safest elective procedures available today. In addition to independently researching the procedure using credible sources for information, having a thorough evaluation and a thoughtful conversation with an eye surgeon you trust is the best way to find out if LASIK is right for you.


This post originally appeared on American Refractive Surgery Council