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How Safe is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery is generally considered to be a safe and effective procedure. One in ten people require further surgery to achieve better results, and the most common side effects are typically short-term, minor and treatable except in isolated cases. However, laser eye surgery still carries a number of risks which can be accentuated by surgeons who lack experience or are negligent in performing their duties.

In the following guide, the experts at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors outline the risks and side effects of laser eye surgery, alternatives that you may want to consider if you are concerned, and how to tell if your surgery has gone wrong.

What does laser eye surgery involve?

An ophthalmologist is a professional who can legally carry out laser eye surgery. There are three approaches to the surgery that aim to achieve the same result - improving your eyesight by reshaping your cornea. Each approach accesses the cornea differently.

These three approaches are:

  • LASIK - creating a flap which heals over
  • SMILE - extracting a layer through small incisions made in the top layers of the eye
  • Surface laser treatments - removing the top layer of the eye

None of the methods require stitches for rehealing as the eye does so naturally, and each method is suited to correcting a different type of vision problem. Your ophthalmologist can advise on which procedure is best for you depending on the type of eyesight problems you are having, and may consult an optician.

What are the possible side effects of laser eye surgery?

Following laser eye surgery, patients can expect to feel some discomfort in the affected eyes. It may feel like grit is caught in the eye, but this is usually mild and can be eased with eye-drops consisting of sterilised water, which may be provided by your surgeon or can be bought from a pharmacy. Eye surgery will take a maximum of six months to completely heal, and patients should resist the urge to rub their eyes during the healing process.

Additionally, patients are likely to have some minor visual disturbances, including increased glare from lights. This side effect will fade with time, but can be treated with subsequent surgery.
Red marks from surgical wounds can also be visible on the whites of the eye, but these typically fade after a month.

In cases where additional corrective procedures are needed, most surgeries will offer this for free. When choosing a surgeon to perform your procedure, you should ask about this policy.

Are there alternatives to laser eye surgery?

Laser eye surgery is just one option for correcting vision problems, and others may be available to you depending on your needs. Lens surgery is another type of procedure that aims to improve eyesight. Lens surgery is carried out in one of two ways:

  • PIOL - lenses are implanted in your eyes without removing the natural lenses. This option is best for patients who are too young to have laser eye surgery or have astigmatism; or
  • RLE - your natural lens is replaced with an artificial one.

There are risks associated with both PIOL and RLE surgery. Serious side effects include the rejection of the lens by the body, but this is very rare and the most common side effects are similar to those of laser eye surgery and are temporary. It is worth noting that complications are more common following RLE than PIOL or laser surgery; one in 500 people suffer significant loss of vision following successful RLE.

You may also want to consider pursuing non-surgical treatments, such as investing in wearable contact lenses. You should speak to a doctor about your options and the treatments that are most suitable for you before you elect to have any type of eye surgery.

What should I do if I believe my laser eye surgery has gone wrong?

If you believe your surgery has gone wrong, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. If you believe that problems with the procedure were the fault of your surgeon, you should make sure to visit a different medical practitioner for a diagnosis. They will be able to inform you if there are problems with your procedure and may be able to advise you on whether or not the surgery was carried out to the necessary standards.

The risks of complications following laser eye surgery are heightened when the professionals in charge of your surgery act with medical negligence. This means that they have breached their duty of care to you - something all medical practitioners must uphold.

If a medical professional has caused you to suffer by failing to work to the standards set for medical care procedures by UK law, you could be entitled to make a medical negligence claim. Doing so will help you to receive compensation for your suffering and will cover the costs of any further care or support you require.

While laser eye surgery has a high success rate, the team at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors has plenty of experience in dealing with negligent treatment and can help you to claim compensation. We will work with you to secure evidence that supports your claim, displays your suffering and demonstrates that responsibility lies with the negligent party.

Suffering may be physical, psychological or financial, and we will gather evidence in the form of medical reports, witness statements from those around you and bank statements and bills to build your case. We will approach the negligent party with your argument and demand a reasonable repayment for your poor treatment.

The other party may accept the claim and pay your compensation, or they may dispute it; if they do, we will represent you in court and manage the process on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery.

It is extremely important that you consider making a compensation claim as it will help you to cover the costs of the help and support you need, which may be expensive. Contact our team today for a free consultation and we will help you to understand your situation and options.

Call Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors today on 0808 271 3278 or fill out an online contact form to arrange a call back at a time that suits you.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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