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Glare and Halos After LASIK: What You Should Know

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What Are Halos and Glare?

Glare and halos are the odd amount of brightness and glow of light that show up near objects. This can happen when you gaze at those objects straight-on. However, glare and halos can also appear if you notice these objects somewhere in your field of vision. People usually experience problems with halos and glare when they are staring straight at bright lights, bright objects, or even shiny items.

Do You Usually Have Glare and Halos After LASIK Surgery?

Yes, eye glare and halos are a common issue that patients experience after they receive LASIK surgery. In fact, glare after LASIK is an extremely frequent side effect that you might have to deal with following this procedure. In the event that you see different kinds of halos and glare following LASIK, you should know that that is normal.

You might also see glare taking the shape of starbursts. Starbursts are not a ring surrounding lights like more common forms of glare. Starbursts look more like a glow that disperses itself around the light instead.

Girl Covering Face by Hand to Protect Face From Bright Sun

Why Do Halos and Glare Appear After LASIK?

We’ll create a flap in the uppermost portion of your cornea when we perform LASIK surgery. This uppermost portion of your cornea is the epithelium. We’ll lift up this flap so we can adjust the entire contour of your cornea using a surgical laser after we make the epithelial flap. Once we have finished altering the shape of your cornea, we’ll put the epithelial flap back down.

Your eyes need some time to adapt to the new shape of your cornea after we make the epithelial flap and put it back down. If you see halos near bright lights, this is simply a step in your eyes’ healing process. You may also see halos close to bright objects as your eyes go through the process of healing and adjusting to your cornea’s new shape.

What Are Halos Following LASIK?

You should know that halos are a type of glare in vision that temporarily changes your vision following LASIK. You will see halos primarily at night after LASIK. Halos are also more common in low-light conditions, and they look like bright circles surrounding sources of light like street lights and headlights.

Even though we commonly call halos a “side effect” of LASIK, they are not exactly a side effect as we usually use that term. Instead, halos are a normal sign that your eye has started recovering. These halos appear because good fluid in your cornea accumulates, and this leads to swelling in your cornea.

When Do the Halos and Glare Go Away?

In most cases, the halos and glare you see after LASIK will not go away for about two to three weeks. However, it is common for you to see the halos and glare for a month after the LASIK surgery or possibly even longer than this. Generally, you will notice that the halos and glare dim following the first week of your healing from the procedure. If you don’t see any change in the glare or halos following your LASIK surgery, talk to your eye doctor. You can bring this up when you go to one of your LASIK post-op visits that your eye doctor will ask you to attend.

Are Halos and Glare the Only Side Effects of LASIK?

No, eye glare and seeing halos around lights are not the only side effects you will experience after LASIK surgery. Another possible side effect is you might notice that your vision quality may vary slightly as your eyes recover. Dry eyes are one more side effect of LASIK. Your eye doctor’s clinic will give you eye drops to help with that. Most of the time, these side effects are quite moderate, and they steadily go away within a few days or a few weeks.

Your cornea’s swelling should subside after a period of three months. Any issues with your vision should go away after three months, too. As far as halos go, you shouldn’t worry about seeing some eye glare at night more than three months after LASIK; this is normal. However, if the glare is seriously messing with your vision, you should go to the clinic where you got LASIK and get further tests. Your surgeon can figure out what’s going on and go from there.

Can You Have Halos and Glare a Long Time After LASIK?

It is certainly possible that you might still have halos and glare a long time after LASIK surgery. A lingering refractive problem as a result of overcorrection or undercorrection is usually what causes this. Astigmatism can lead to blurry vision and halos. 

Since your eyes are part of your overall physiology, your own healing process can cause this undercorrection or overcorrection. You can rest assured that dealing with this is fairly simple. Quite a few patients require only a straightforward follow-up procedure. Other patients may just need to start wearing glasses during the nighttime.

How High Is the Risk of Long-Term Halos and Glare After LASIK?

Doctor Explaining Prescription for Senior Female Patient at Clinic

With all the advancements over the last 20 years or so, the risk of patients having to deal with halos and glare for a long time after the surgery is now quite low. Our clinic can decrease the risk of you dealing with long-term halos by removing an aspheric tissue shape during LASIK. As mentioned previously, this does not mean that patients never deal with this problem, but it is an infrequent issue. If you are someone with larger pupils, then you are at a higher risk for long-term halos and glare after LASIK.

The risk is also greater for higher prescriptions as well. The possibility for this greater risk is one factor that makes your pre-surgery assessment so critical. In the event you are a patient at a greater risk for these long-term issues, your eye doctor will tell you this and discuss the potential consequences before you get LASIK.

How Can You Get Treatment for Long-Term Glare and Halos?

Thankfully, we have the right technology to limit any long-term vision problems you might have. We’ll provide you with a custom treatment that we base on your cornea’s topography scans. The scans create a map of your cornea’s surface, and we can program the laser to smooth over the surface of your cornea. This increases your vision quality.

If you are interested in LASIK surgery, contact us to make an appointment with the California Center for Refractive Surgery.