Refractive eye surgery is considered an overall safe and effective method for correcting vision. However, just like any other surgical procedure, it comes with risks.
Approximately 95% of patients are satisfied with their LASIK/PRK outcomes and report no long-term side effects. But the remaining 5% of patients who undergo refractive surgery can experience truly debilitating complications following the procedure.
Below, we explore some potential complications of refractive surgery and how scleral lenses can help patients enjoy healthy vision despite surgical complications.
What Is Corneal Ectasia?
Corneal ectasia is characterized by an abnormal thinning of the cornea, the eye’s outer clear surface. Doctors aren’t sure of the exact rate of occurrence, but it is thought to affect between 0.04% - 2.8% of patients following refractive surgery.
It is considered a sight-threatening condition and one of the most serious complications of LASIK/PRK. Corneal ectasia can cause symptoms like blurred vision, seeing halos or glare around lights, corneal steepening and worsening vision.
For many patients with corneal ectasia, glasses or soft contact lenses can’t sufficiently correct their declining vision. In these cases, scleral lenses are often the treatment of choice because they can help restore clear vision and comfort.
Post-LASIK Corneal Aberrations
Patients with post-LASIK higher-order aberrations — imperfections or irregularities of the eye’s surface caused by the surgery — may experience poor night vision, see starbursts in their visual field and have blurred vision. The severity of symptoms will depend on how the LASIK incision was made and the size of the patient’s pupil.
Scleral contact lenses help to restore normal vision by acting as a healthy, artificial cornea that focuses light correctly onto the retina at the back of the eye. Additionally, the scleral lens doesn’t rest on the sensitive corneal tissue, making it an ideal choice for patients with higher order aberrations.
Dry Eye Syndrome
The incision made during LASIK surgery can sometimes damage the cornea’s nerves, making the eye more prone to developing dry eye syndrome.
Scleral lenses help combat the effects of dry eye syndrome by surrounding the cornea with a reservoir of nourishing fluid. These highly oxygen-permeable lenses help keep the eye’s surface hydrated and comfortable.
Irregular astigmatism refers to a cornea that is unequally curved. This can result in double vision, blurred vision, poor night vision and headaches.
Irregular astigmatism can arise after refractive surgery if the eye heals differently from that expected by the surgeon.
In many cases, the best way to correct the vision problem associated with irregular astigmatism is by prescribing scleral contact lenses. They’ll act as a new cornea and refract light to the correct location on the retina, providing clear vision.
How We Can Help
At Lowy & Sewell Eye Care, we’ve helped numerous patients who’ve lost some visual abilities following refractive surgery — and we can help you too.
We provide custom-made scleral lenses for a multitude of conditions and help patients achieve the clearest possible vision for their conditions.
To schedule a consultation or learn more about what we offer, call Lowy & Sewell Eye Care today!
Our practice serves patients from Concord, Thornhill, North York, and Bathurst Manor, Ontario and surrounding communities.
- A: Scleral contact lenses are rigid gas-permeable lenses with a larger diameter than standard hard and soft lenses. They vault over the cornea and rest on the white part of the eye, putting no pressure on the sensitive corneal tissue. Scleral contact lenses provide ultra-clear vision combined with all-day comfort and are a successful option for hard-to-fit contact lens patients.
- A: Scleral lenses are prescribed to patients with keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, corneal abnormalities and high astigmatism, as well as those with post-LASIK vision problems. Because scleral lenses support ocular healing, they are also used by patients who’ve sustained ocular traumas, including chemical burns. Contact us to find out if scleral lenses can benefit your eyes and lifestyle.