Looking at LASIK Risks and Benefits: Night Vision Symptoms

Last Updated August 19, 2021
Understanding the Night Vision symptoms of LASIK

When weighing the decision to have LASIK – or any surgery – it is important to take a close look at the benefits and risks. The benefits of LASIK are widely touted – great vision without the hassle of glasses or contacts. More than 19 million people in the U.S. have chosen LASIK for their vision correction and the latest research findings show that patient satisfaction, particularly with the latest LASIK technologies, is at an all-time high of up to 98 percent. The clinical experience and an enormous amount of research support LASIK as a safe and effective means of improving vision.

And, as with all surgery, there are risks to be aware of in order to make an informed, confident decision. The good news there is an extremely low rate of complications associated with LASIK – less than 1 percent for significant, sight-threatening issues. However, there are reports of side effects some patients experience, primarily as part of the healing process. The most recent research into the procedure takes a close look into side effects which include night vision visual symptoms such as glare, halos, ghosting and starbursts, as well as dry eye.

During the normal healing period after LASIK, people may experience light sensitivity, including night vision visual symptoms. Typically, glare, halos, ghosting and starbursts gradually resolve by themselves over a period of a few weeks or months, perhaps as long as a year. Some people require additional courses of eye drops to help reduce inflammation and/or dry eye that can contribute to visual symptoms. On the rare occasion, less than 5 percent of the time, glasses, contact lenses or additional LASIK treatment may be needed to smooth out any remaining nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or higher-order aberrations on the cornea that contribute to visual symptoms.

In fact, night vision visual symptoms have been carefully analyzed in recent studies and, in the majority of cases, are found to be reduced following LASIK far more frequently than they are increased:

Reported LASIK Visual Symptoms
FDA Patient Reported Outcomes with LASIK (1 & 2) Study Findings – Presented at ASCRS 2016 Annual Meeting by Dan Durrie, M.D.

In addition to the findings presented in the above chart, the number of patients in PROWL-1 and PROWL-2 reporting bothersome visual symptoms (very and extremely) was much higher before having the LASIK procedure. Importantly, only one patient out of 551 (PROWL-1 and PROWL-2) reported having visual symptoms severe enough to interfere with activities.

Today’s modern LASIK technologies and techniques are dramatically more precise than previous generations of treatment. They have radically decreased the rate of LASIK-related night vision visual symptoms and actually improve quality of vision for the majority of people. When discussing your vision during your initial consult with your LASIK surgeon, it is important to discuss not just your prescription, but the quality of your vision including your existing experience with visual symptoms such as glare and halos.

Published May 25, 2016