Does LASIK Cause Retinal Detachment?

November 10, 2009

At the recent AAO meeting in San Francisco, J. Fernando Arevalo, M.D., F.A.C.S., reported no apparent causal relationship between LASIK and retinal detachment.

Over 11,500 eyes were examined retrospectively and the incidence of retinal detachment was found to be lower than the general population.

The study included patients that developed a retinal detachment as far out as 13 years after the procedure.

What does this mean? As a retinal specialist, I think their conclusion, that there is no causal relationship between LASIK and retinal detachment is correct.  That is my feeling.

Playing “Devil’s Advocate,” however,  isn’t it possible that the original retinal exam may be inaccurate?  A refractive surgeon isn’t really motivated to look for retinal detachments, are they?

Maybe the incidence of 0.19% was the number retinal problems that were missed?

Just a thought.  No harm intended.

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist

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3 Responses to “Does LASIK Cause Retinal Detachment?”

  • ari

    dr. wong is 100% correct. i will say, though, that the lasik probably brought the pvd a little earlier. im sorry you are so symptomatic from the pvd- would be nice if we had a simple treatment for this very common problem.

  • Dear John,

    It is not uncommon for a highly nearsighted person, like you, to have had a PVD – LASIK or no LASIK. You will eventually get a PVD in the PRK eye. Everyone gets them.

    Regardless of cause or association, you are now stuck with a large floater in your right eye.

    I can not possibly understand why scuba diving might be bad for your eyes. I am not aware of any “pressure” problems that could affect you.

    Your risk of retinal detachment is the same as before LASIK.

    Last, you might consider having the floater removed surgically. The surgery is no more risky than having cataract surgery.


  • John

    I’m living proof that LASIK will cause vitreous detachment. As a result, I consider my vision, eye health, and quality of life to be worse post-LASIK than they were before the surgery, and I would gladly go back to wearing glasses if I could have my healthy eyes back. I’m 47 years old and very nearsighted, which is a risk factor for vitreous detachment, and the pressure change in the eye during the LASIK procedure can cause vitreous detachment (wish I’d known both of those facts pre-LASIK). I now have 20/20 vision – but it’s ruined by a large floater in my right eye. (I had PRK in my left eye, with no vitreous detachment so far, which tells me that LASIK is indeed the culprit.) I also have learned that I should no longer SCUBA dive, because the pressure could endanger the already delicate state of the vitreous in my eyes. So, LASIK robbed me of clear (unobstructed) vision and one of my favorite recreational activities. I’m also at greater risk of a retinal detachment. Believe me, you’d rather wear glasses.