LASIK eye surgery can cause extremely dry eyes, blurry vision and difficulty with night driving, leaving patients with excruciating facial pain, worse vision than before the surgery, and visual distortion (including halos, glare and seeing multiple objects). At the extreme, complications include eye bulging and blindness, especially in patients with thin corneas (which are found in approximately 10% of Americans). These complications can result in the need for goggles that help with eye moisture, as well as expensive eye drops and special contact lenses. Some patients have reported spending as much as $500 per month on treatments for their LASIK complications.
Ideally, doctors and facilities that perform this procedure screen patients for risk factors and ensure that only physicians provide surgical care. Unfortunately, many facilities perform this “private pay” procedure (not covered by insurance) in bulk rather than on carefully-selected patients and some facilities use non-physicians for much of the care received by the patient. Moreover, some surgeons perform the procedure at the referral of optometrists, who are not physicians, but who nonethless perform the risk-factor screening and provide follow-up care for the patient. In some cases, referring optometrists receive a referral fee from the surgeon, decreasing the incentive for screening out patients who may not be good surgical candidates.
Because LASIK involves cutting and reshaping the cornea, some research has suggested that the cornea becomes permanently weakened after the surgery and that the nerves severed during the surgery never recover or take years to recover. Complications from LASIK can occur because of problems with the laser or other equipiment used during the procedure, physician error in screening patients for risk factors or in performing the procedure itself, or from poor treatment by non-physician providers involved in the surgery.