By Keith Mulvihill
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The results of a survey of patients who underwent vision-correcting LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) surgery suggest that as many as 25% experience nighttime vision problems for 6 months or longer after the surgery.
Such problems can include halos, starburst patterns over lights and glare or heightened sensitivity to lights at night–especially when driving.
Many of these nighttime vision problems, which are common during the first several weeks after the procedure, do not seem to clear up for certain patients, according to Dr. Melissa Bailey of Ohio State University in Columbus.
Those most at risk for this lingering complication are people who have the procedure a second time, those with flatter corneas and individuals who are very near-sighted. "People with flatter corneas before the surgery reported more nighttime vision problems," Dr. Bailey told Reuters Health.
Overall, 25% of the 605 survey participants were still experiencing one or more nighttime vision problems 6 months after their surgery.
Despite this finding, 97% of those surveyed said they would recommend LASIK to a friend, according to Dr. Bailey, who advises that those interested in LASIK seek advice from very experienced doctors who have operated on many patients.
The researchers evaluated questionnaires completed by patients who had LASIK surgery at least 6 months prior to the survey. They also reviewed the medical records of these patients. Dr. Bailey presented the results of the survey in December at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Patients who underwent the surgery a second time to make additional improvements appeared to be the group most at risk of nighttime vision problems 6 months after the second LASIK procedure, Dr. Bailey said.
She also said that the more eye tissue removed during surgery to correct near-sightedness, the more likely patients were to experience nighttime vision problems.
The findings also suggest the shape of the cornea at the outset may predict who will be happier with the results several months after the procedure.