Can a LASIK flap be displaced years after the operation?

Doctor's Answers (3)


Previous Lasik flaps created using a micro-keratome would be relatively easier to dislodge / lift as compared to contemporary flaps created using an all-laser / femto-laser platform which is the standard of care today. 

However, to put things into perspective. It is very difficult for you to casually dislodge your flap (e.g. by your baby scratching your eye). The closest I have ever come to seeing anybody ever dislodge their flap was a colleague reporting an isolated case of their cat who had scratched their eye and successfully managed to lift the edge of their microkeratome flap. I have to emphasize that this is exceedingly difficult to occur by chance, and would probably only have occurred due to the sharp claws on the cat, by sheer misfortune that the cat had managed to find the flap interface, and that the flap was previously created using a microkeratome (hence easier to lift).

Otherwise, such an incident occurring is exceedingly difficult. If in doubt you should get a regular review with your Ophthalmologist who would be able to examine you and allay any fears that you may have!


Theoretically yes, it is possible for a LASIK flap to be displaced even some years after the operation. However, it takes quite some force that is directed close to the edge of the flap for that to happen, and is very rare.

The important thing is to know how a LASIK flap displacement feels like, so that you can either relax and have some peace of mind, or on the hand know whether to go and see the doctor urgently.

If the LASIK flap is displaced, there will usually be blurring of vision that persists beyond a few minutes. There is also often a sudden sharp pain, and then ongoing discomfort with blinking.

If the eye is poked, and then vision gets blurred immediately together with pain and persistent irritation, it is best to see a LASIK surgeon within the same day.

On the other hand, if vision is as clear as ever and the eye feels comfortable, it is most likely OK. Still, it is worth going to check it out if there are any concerns.

Yes, it is possible for a Lasik flap to be dislodged or displaced even 10, 15 years after a Lasik op. This is because a cut Lasik flap is not stitched or glued back - the corneal flap only adheres by tissue pressure. Thus, you can say that a Lasik flap never fully heals.

If you have a Lasik flap dislodgement problem, you will immediately experience blurry vision, irritation and/or sharp pain. If that is the case for you, it is best to see a Lasik eye doctor as soon as possible to reposition your Lasik flap and also to prevent flap wrinkles and other flap-related problems from occurring. 


Dr Tony Ho

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