Is Laser Eye Surgery Safe?

27 November 2019

As with other surgical procedures, laser eye surgery does carry some risks. Complications are rare in laser eye surgery, but if complications do occur they are minor.

Your surgeon will be happy to discuss any concerns with you, and any complications will be carefully managed if they arise.

Is laser eye surgery safe?

When you hear the word ‘surgery’, it’s only natural to have some concerns about safety. After all, some kinds of surgery can be very invasive and require long periods of time for recovery. When it comes to laser eye surgery, however, there are a range of innovative treatments available so you can be back to normal in no time.

While it is true that all forms of surgery carry an element of risk, it’s not the case that all surgeries carry the same amount of risk. Laser eye surgery is much less invasive than many other types of surgery, and healing is very quick. It’s one of the most common elective procedures in the world, and the complication rate is very low.

Read on below to find out everything you need to know about the safety of laser eye surgery.

Laser eye surgery: the facts

Depending on the type of laser eye treatment you have, surgery usually takes around fifteen minutes for each eye, and while some patients may experience a little discomfort, it is actually a pain-free procedure as your surgeon will administer anaesthetic eye drops.

Laser eye surgery is one of the most common elective medical procedures in the world, and fewer than 4% of treatments experience any kind of complications. When complications do occur, they are usually minor, and if you choose a laser eye surgery provider with good quality aftercare, any issues which do occur can be quickly remedied.

Laser eye surgery risks

As with any kind of surgical procedure, there are some risks of laser eye surgery to be aware of, including:


  • ​Vision not as expected

Everyone responds differently to laser eye surgery, and you may find that after your treatment you still need glasses for some tasks, such as reading small print or driving. Laser eye surgery is not a miracle cure, and it’s important to be realistic about your expected outcomes from treatment. If you do find that you’re unhappy with the results of your treatment, chat to your surgeon when you go along for your aftercare appointment. In some cases, they may be able to perform a ‘top-up’ treatment to improve your vision further.

  • Flap complications

In procedures where a flap is created to reshape the cornea, there can be a chance of complications. Here at Optegra, we offer a variety of innovative, bladeless treatments to help keep these risks to a minimum. Our ReLEx SMILE treatment doesn’t involve a flap being created at all, meaning there is no risk of flap complications taking place.

  • Dry eyes

After your treatment, you may experience dry eyes. Your surgeon will give you eye drops to help you manage this and keep them moist. You will also be asked to return for aftercare appointments at regular intervals so we can check up on how your eyes are healing.

  • Glare or halo effect

In the weeks after treatment, as your eyes adjust you may experience some glare or halo effects in your vision. These will usually diminish in time, and it is very rarely a long-term problem.

Minimising the risks of laser eye surgery

No surgery is completely without risk, so it’s important that you are aware of the potential complications before you go ahead with treatment.

There are several things you can do to minimise the chance of complications taking place. First and foremost, always choose a respected provider. It may be tempting to go abroad for cheap laser eye surgery, but the risks associated with this are just not worth it in the long run.

At Optegra, our world-class surgeons have been highly trained by the NHS and are all Fellows of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists or equivalent organisations. We assess each patient’s suitability for laser eye surgery before treatment, checking for any underlying conditions that may cause complications down the line.

Every patient receives a treatment plan that’s individually tailored to them, ensuring they get the best possible care. You will also be assigned your own ophthalmic surgeon who will work with you throughout the entire procedure, so you can rest assured that your surgeon understands your needs.

You can also minimise the risk by following your surgeon’s advice before, during and after treatment. For example, avoid using eye make up in the run up to treatment and afterwards,and refrain from using shampoos, conditioners and other products containing chemicals that can get in your eyes after surgery.

If you experience any pain or discomfort after surgery, then tell your surgeon as soon as possible. If it’s out of hours, then use our 24 hour helpline.

Find out more

If you have any more questions about the safety of laser eye surgery, why not come along to one of our open evenings? We hold events regularly at our hospitals and clinics across the UK, and they’re a great opportunity to hear from one of our expert opthalmic surgeons and ask any questions you may have. Alternatively, you could book a free one-to-one consultation with one of our surgeons, to find out whether laser eye surgery is right for you.

We are more than happy to talk through any concerns you may have, and we are confident that once we do, you’ll feel less anxious about treatment. Laser eye surgery is a very safe way of creating long-term solutions to visual problems. At Optegra, your eyes are in very safe hands.

Are you considering laser eye surgery and worried about the risks?

Undoubtedly the prospect of having laser eye surgery can be scary. We’re all naturally protective of our eyes, so the thought of having a medical procedure performed on them can be daunting. But when you consider the life-changing benefits of having treatment – the minimal risks – which are in line with any other medical procedure – are outweighed exponentially by the new lease of life you’ll enjoy after having your vision corrected.

We understand, however, that forthcoming surgery on any part of your body can make you feel anxious. And when you’re not equipped with all the facts or fully informed about the potential risks, our brains can get carried away running through all the worst-case scenarios.

Stop right there.

This article is designed to put your mind at rest – once and for all, so you can confidently proceed with your laser eye surgery, relaxed, and knowing exactly what to expect; We’re going to tell you all about the potential risks, but we’re also going to reassure you that laser eye treatment is a quick and straight forward treatment that carries only a 4% risk of complications – the majority of which are minor problems that will resolve in time when you’re body completes the healing process.

Everything you need to know about laser eye treatment risks
Safety first; before we talk about the minimal risks associated with laser eye surgery, we’d just like to demonstrate how safe a procedure it really is – with some facts and figures:

  1. Laser eye treatment is not new; ophthalmic surgeons have been performing laser eye surgery – on patients around the world for over 33 years. And there have been huge advancements in treatments and technology during that time
  2. More than 35 million laser eye treatments have been performed – worldwide, since 1983
  3. And there has not been once single case of permanent blindness reported as a result of laser eye treatment
  4. Laser eye treatment carries a 4 in 100 risk of complications. And the majority of those risks are extremely minor – most resolve on their own, in time, or can be easily corrected with further treatment to get the best possible results

Hopefully we’ve put your mind at ease with those facts. But nothing in life is ever risk-free – especially when it comes to surgery, so there are some risks you need to be aware of to help you to make an informed decision about having laser eye treatment:

Night Vision Problems
During the early stages of the healing process – following your laser eye treatment – it is normal to experience problems with light sensitivity – particularly after dark. In rare cases, this can persist for longer than expected. But your consultant will discuss your individual risk of night vision problems with you during your initial consultation.

Dry Eyes
Traditional laser eye treatment procedures used to carry a greater risk of persistent dry eyes, but new and improved treatment technology has reduced that risk greatly. You will experience some dryness following your treatment as your eyes heal, but the likelihood of problems continuing after 6 months is now extremely low.

All surgery comes with a risk of infection, but the risk of serious infection with laser eye treatment is incredibly low. There is only a 1 in 10,000 risk of infection following laser eye surgery. You are more likely to experience an infection from wearing contact lenses or from a minor cut on your finger. But if, after your laser eye treatment, you show any signs of infection – you should contact your clinic as soon as possible, so it can be dealt with quickly and effectively.

Flap Complications
LASIK laser eye surgery involves the creation of a corneal flap using a precision laser. This procedure presents an element of risk from complications (1 in 2750), but far less than traditional blade laser. And resolution treatment is much faster and more effective – on the rare occasion the complications do arise.

Your safety is our business: How to minimise laser eye treatment risks
Your safety is of our paramount importance to us. Our business is built on a long succession of happy customers who have experienced complication-free laser eye treatment.

In 8 years of business, we’ve treated over one million eyes! And we wouldn’t be the UK’s no.1 most trusted eye specialist if patient safety and customer satisfaction wasn’t at the forefront of our business.

Our 70 highly skilled ophthalmic surgeons are all members of the Royal College of Ophthalmic Surgeons and our 30 state of the art eye clinics and eye hospitals all adhere to the strict guidelines for laser eye treatment set out by NICE (The National Institute of Clinical Excellence) – to give you extra peace of mind.


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