Night vision disturbances after corneal refractive surgery

Surv Ophthalmol. 2002 Nov-Dec;47(6):533-46. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6257(02)00350-8.


A certain percentage of patients complain of "glare" at night after undergoing a refractive surgical procedure. When patients speak of glare they are, technically, describing a decrease in quality of vision secondary to glare disability, decreased contrast sensitivity, and image degradations, or more succinctly, "night vision disturbances." The definitions, differences, and methods of measurement of such vision disturbances after refractive surgery are described in our article. In most cases of corneal refractive surgery, there is a significant increase in vision disturbances immediately following the procedure. The majority of patients improve between 6 months to 1 year post-surgery. The relation between pupil size and the optical clear zone are most important in minimizing these disturbances in RK. In PRK and LASIK, pupil size and the ablation diameter size and location are the major factors involved. Treatment options for disabling glare are also discussed. With the exponential increase of patients having refractive surgery, the increase of patients complaining of scotopic or mesopic vision disturbances may become a major public health issue in the near future. Currently, however, there are no gold-standard clinical tests available to measure glare disability, contrast sensitivity, or image degradations. Standardization is essential for objective measurement and follow-up to further our understanding of the effects of these surgeries on the optical system and thus, hopefully, allow for modification of our techniques to decrease or eliminate post-refractive vision disturbances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Cornea / surgery*
  • Darkness
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Glare
  • Humans
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ / adverse effects*
  • Lasers, Excimer
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy / adverse effects*
  • Refractive Surgical Procedures*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vision Disorders / diagnosis
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Vision Disorders / therapy
  • Visual Acuity