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LASIK Surgery Linked To New Visual Problems Among Patients, Study Finds

Update Date: Nov 28, 2016 09:40 AM EST
Corrective Eye Surgery for Armed Services
Lt. Colonel Lilia A. Fannin, M.D. makes an adjustment to the right eye of Lt. Colonel Thomas Hite, Jr. during corrective eye surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center June 11, 2002 in Washington, DC. Doctors at Walter Reed's Center for Refractive Surgery perform Laser Assisted In-situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery to correct the vision of armed services members who would otherwise have to wear glasses or contacts. Special units and divisions have been earmarked to undergo the surgery in an effort to make military personnel better able to perform their duties in adverse conditions. (Photo : Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)

Many people opt for LASIK surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. According to a new study, this procedure may not be an end to their visual woes. Researchers from the Food and Drug Administration found that 40 percent of patients undergoing LASIK surgery are likely to experience new eye problems three months after surgery.

"Laser vision correction surgery can be a wonderful procedure, but it has to be for the right patient," said Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study, according to a report by Live Science. "It has to be for the patient who is willing to accept any of the possible side effects that sometimes can occur with LASIK, such as dry eye or eye glare or double image."

For the study, researchers followed two groups of people for up to six months after they underwent the eye surgery. One of the groups had 262 active-duty Navy personnel. The average age of this group was 29. The other group comprised 312 civilians, whose average age was 32.

The participants were asked to complete a web-based survey about their vision before their surgery, and a few times afterward. They were asked questions about ow satisfied they were with their vision and whether they were experiencing any visual symptoms that involved seeing halos, starbursts, glare or double images.

The researchers noted that people's vision did improve after the surgery. However 43 percent of the first group and 46 percent of the second group reported experienced new eye problems. These included seeing double images, glare, halos or starbursts. On further probing, the researchers found that these problems cropped up approximately three months after the participants underwent the eye surgery.

Though most patients did note a visible improvement in eye sight after the surgery, up to 4 percent of participants in both groups voiced some degree of dissatisfaction with their vision at three to six months after the surgery.

During a LASIK surgery, the eye surgeon makes a small cut in the patient's eye's cornea, or the outermost layer. Using a laser, he removed some of the cornea tissue and reshapes it, according to an FDA report.

"More research is needed to understand which patients are likely to experience difficulty performing their usual activities following LASIK surgery," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement to Reuters Health.

Findings of the study were published online in the JAMA Ophthalmology journal.

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