All surgical procedures, including LASIK & PRK can involve risk of unsuccessful results, complications or infection. Although it is not possible to list every potential risk or complication that may result from the procedure, we wish to inform any potential patient of some of the possible risks for consideration. It is important to note that complications are rare, are treatable and occur only 1% of the time.

Possible risks specific to LASIK:

Epithelial ingrowth

This is uncommon but can usually be treated by re-lifting the flap and gently irrigating the problem cells. This is much more common in a re-treatment than in a primary treatment. Usually it does not occur within a year of the primary treatment, but can occur more frequently with increasing length of time from the primary procedure. We generally won’t perform a flap-lift after 18 months from the original surgery and will instead perform PRK on the flap because of this potential complication. It is also more prevalent in patients who require a far-sighted (hyperopia) re-treatment.


Happens in rare cases but is generally successfully treated with a topical antibiotic medication. Rarely the flap has to be removed or a partial thickness or full thickness corneal transplant is required.

Free Cap

This involves creating a cap free from the corneal bed. The laser procedure is completed, the cap fitted into place and allowed to heal naturally. A contact lens may be temporarily used. Visual outcome is usually the same. We have never had a free cap here at Coal Harbour Eye Centre and these are virtually non-existent with modern technology.

Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis (DLK)

Inflammation under the flap, treated with a topical or oral steroid medication. If severe, requires flap lift and irrigation.

Epithelial abrasion

Not usually a problem. If the abrasion is significant, then we will complete the procedure and delay treatment in the second eye, or treat the second eye with PRK as significant abrasions are usually indicative of corneal surface disease.

Thin flap, incomplete flap, and irregular flap

We will reposition the flap on cornea, allow it to heal for 3-4 months then perform the procedure (either LASIK or PRK), depending on the findings at that time.


A bulging and thinning of the cornea after laser refractive surgery.

Possible risks specific to PRK:


Can be treated with a topical antibiotic medication.


Usually treatable with topical steroidal medication or can be removed by laser if necessary.

The final outcomes of LASIK & PRK are very similar, however the healing time varies.

Side effects are minimal with the LASIK procedure and most patients achieve their best-corrected vision within 24 – 72 hours. Patients can experience light sensitivity, some initial glare, and dryness which may last long term. Full stabilization may take up to a few weeks to achieve.

The healing process for PRK patients is more involved and lengthy than for LASIK patients. The following side effects are temporary and may last from a few weeks to a few months, but do not occur in all cases:  light sensitivity, poor visual acuity, dry eyes, glare & halo effects, blurred vision, tired eyes, pain.