Why am I Seeing Starbursts After LASIK? – Treatment Options

LASIK surgery is a procedure used to treat those who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism. It is considered to...

LASIK surgery is a procedure used to treat those who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism. It is considered to be a safe outpatient procedure and has a high success rate. A 2009 worldwide study showed that 95 percent of people who have had LASIK surgery are satisfied with the outcome and are able to give up their glasses and contact lenses.

Even though a positive outcome is the norm, there are occasional complications. Unfortunately these complications cannot always be solved with medication or additional surgery. FDA records of clinical studies show that six months after the surgery, up to 28 percent of patients complained of dry eyes, up to 16 percent had blurry vision and up to 18 percent had difficulty driving at night due to starbursts. A starburst is best described as an extreme glare around lights at night. It is a commonly reported problem for people who have had a less than ideal post-LASIK experience and interferes with night driving.

Causes of Starbursts

There are several reasons patients see night starbursts and glares after LASIK surgery.

  • The pupils dilate to an area larger than the zone that was treated.
  • Improper post-surgical adherence of the corneal flap. During surgery, this flap is lifted up so there is access to the cornea. When it is replaced, it acts like a bandage. If it does not adhere properly, it essentially wrinkles and causes the eye to have an irregular shape which distorts the vision.
  • Under correction of the nearsightedness.

Treatment options for starbursts after LASIK

  • Some people who have starburst problems with their night vision recover to normal vision in a few weeks or months, while others live with it for life. If the condition does not go away within six months of the surgery, further treatment is indicated.
  • If refractive error is causing the starbursts, prescription glasses or contact lenses may be indicated.
  • Additional LASIK surgery, called Wavefront LASIK, may be required as an enhancement to the original procedure. It uses specialized technology for those who suffer from glare and starbursts after standard LASIK.
  • Enlarged pupils may be treated with eye drops that shrink the pupil.
  • Glasses with coated anti-reflective lenses may eliminate the glare of sunbursts and improve night vision.
  • Special contact lenses may need to be worn at night to reduce the glare of starbursts.
  • Dry eye treatment and other non-surgical treatments can help reduce glare and starbursts after LASIK

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