LASIK is a procedure performed with a laser to correct refractive errors of vision, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Most patients who undergo the procedure expect to reduce their dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
Although LASIK surgery is usually successful, the patient must meet certain criteria to be a good candidate. These criteria include healthy eyes, the adequate thickness of the cornea, and pupils that are no bigger than average. Patients undergoing LASIK should not have a strong prescription for their glasses or contacts and vision should be stable for at least a year before the procedure, which means it’s not a good idea in patients under the age of 18. It’s also contraindicated in patients with poor health due to degenerative conditions or autoimmune diseases that can result in impaired healing.
Glaucoma and cataracts are also conditions that preclude successful LASIK procedures in some patients. Pregnant women have hormonal changes that can alter the shape of the cornea, so it’s not advisable to undergo the procedure during pregnancy. If you’ve had LASIK under these conditions and you had a poor outcome, your doctor may have been negligent in failing to inform you of these risk factors.
Complications of LASIK
One of the most common complaints expressed by patients who have had LASIK is the failure to achieve improved vision. Although results are never guaranteed when undergoing a medical procedure, physicians have a responsibility to limit poor outcomes by screening patients for things that could be problematic.
Unfortunately, some patients have experienced much more significant vision problems that failure to correct eyesight with the surgery. Lawsuits have been filed throughout the country by people who have suffered permanent loss of vision, whether partial or complete. These outcomes are frequently alleged to be the result of malpractice or negligence.
LASIK Flap complications
During LASIK surgery, the surgeon creates a thin flap on the front of the cornea, which is lifted during the surgery to reshape the eye. The flap is replaced to serve as a bandage during healing. When the LASIK flap is incorrectly constructed, it can develop tiny wrinkles or it can also fail to adhere to the surface of the eye. Some studies estimate that up to 5.7% of LASIK procedures result in flap complications. However, if you are one of the patients with a flap complication, it may result in irregular astigmatism that causes double images or “ghost images,” ingrowth of the corneal outer layer, which causes blurring of vision, and inflammation. If too much tissue is removed from the cornea during a procedure or if the procedure is attempted on someone with a weak cornea, a bulging on the surface of the eye that is known as keratectasia can occur. This condition may require permanent use of gas permeable lenses or corneal implants to hold the cornea in place. Dry eyes can result from LASIK, but that’s usually a temporary problem. Although eye infections are rare, they do occur, and when they go undiagnosed or untreated, vision loss can result.
One patient in Colorado experienced permanent partial visual problems after LASIK, including glare, halos, blurring, loss of contrast sensitivity, and decreased vision at night. Because the jury found the defendant, an eye surgeon, guilty of negligence because he failed to notice that the incorrect treatment plant had been carried out due to a technician’s error. Some doctors who perform LASIK may do many procedures during the course of a day, assigning important details to technicians without adequate medical training or knowledge. Ultimately, the physician is responsible for errors on the part of the staff they employ.
Another lawsuit returned a verdict for medical negligence against a physician who performed a LASIK surgery on a patient who had contraindications to the procedure. The surgery resulted in a conditions known as post-LASIK ectasia, which poses a lifelong visual disability.
Have you experienced a bad outcome from your LASIK procedure?
Eyesight is critical to quality of life. If you’ve had LASIK surgery with a poor outcome, there is a possibility that you may be the victim of medical negligence or malpractice. Although bad outcomes are rare, they do occur sometimes despite appropriate care. However, in other cases, the surgeon may have failed to observe the standard of care in your treatment. Call us today for a review of your case by one of Chicago’s top medical malpractice attorneys.