Patients stay mum on LASIK side effects

New studies indicate that two in five laser patients experience new visual symptoms after refractive surgery

Laser eye surgery

Patients may be underreporting the new visual symptoms they experience following laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery to clinicians, new research has concluded.

Two US Food and Drug Administration studies followed 262 US Navy personnel and 312 civilians respectively, as they received standard LASIK surgery and aftercare.

These groups of patients were also asked to complete an online questionnaire, one before and two after the procedure, in the paper published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Three months after the procedure, approximately two in five patients from both groups reported new visual symptoms, including double images, glare, halos and starbursts.

Across both studies, 28% of people with no dry eye symptoms before the surgery reported that they had mild, moderate or severe dry eye three months later.

However, satisfaction with the procedure was high, with only 1–2% reporting dissatisfaction. The authors highlighted that their study was one of only a few to report the development of new symptoms after LASIK.

“Patients were more likely to report visual and other ocular symptoms on an online questionnaire than to their healthcare professional,” they emphasised, adding: "Administering the questionnaire to patients pre-operatively and post-operatively will allow us to more accurately assess visual and other ocular symptoms and satisfaction in clinical trials."

"A better understanding of the patients’ perceptions following this procedure will lead to better outcomes and will provide better information for informed consent to patients considering LASIK surgery," the authors wrote.

Image credit: Brien Aho, US Navy