University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Laser Refractive Surgery:

From One Medical Student to Another

5. Complications

As mentioned previously, laser vision correction is very successful with 95% of patients satisfied with their results (Solomon et al. 2009). However, as with any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of complications (Table 4).

Table 4. (AAO 2007)




Seeing halos or starbursts around lights at night

Dry Eye Syndrome

Most common complaint after surgery. Usually relieved with the use of artificial tears. Usually resolves within weeks to months. May be persistent, especially in patients with pre-existing dry eye

Under- or over-correction

The goal of surgery is to achieve the desired visual result with one surgical procedure, but sometimes under-correction or over-correction may occur. In many cases, additional surgery, called an enhancement, is performed after the first surgery has healed to achieve a better result

Flap complications

For example, wrinkles in the flap (flap striae), hole in the middle of the flap like a donut (button hole), free flap (the flap comes completely off the cornea and does not have a hinge to attach it to rest of the cornea)


Rarely, infections can occur after laser vision correction


Diffuse lamellar keratitis is a type of inflammation which can occur in the first few days after LASIK surgery and requires prompt treatment with topical steroid drops and possibly re-lifting the LASIK flap depending on the degree of inflammation


Haze is a cloudiness of the corneal stroma that can occur in more nearsighted eyes after PRK. Most surgeons use Mitomycin C at the time of PRK in high risk patients to prevent haze formation

Laser vision correction is an increasingly popular elective procedure that has provided improved vision to patients around the world. We hope you have gained a basic understanding from this tutorial and are more prepared to answer questions regarding laser vision correction. Listed below are additional educational resources.

Back | Next

last updated: 11/29/2011

Written by Reid Turner

Illustrated by Steve McGaughey

Faculty supervision and review by Anna Kitzmann, MD

Turner R, McGaughey S, Kitzmann A. Laser Vision Correction: From one Medical student to another. November 29, 2011; Available from: tutorialsLaser-Vision-Correction-tutorial/

Share this page: