Are You a Candidate for Laser Eye Surgery?
Use this checklist to determine if you’re a potential candidate for LASIK surgery.
For many people, LASIK surgery is the perfect vision solution. It’s quick, safe, relatively painless, and offers a lifetime of clear vision. But unfortunately, not everyone is a strong candidate for the surgery. While only a doctor can decide for sure whether LASIK is a good choice for you, this quick and easy checklist can give you a good idea of whether or not you’re in the ballpark:
You’re between 18 and 65 years of age.
As a general rule, doctors don’t recommend LASIK for patients under age 18 or over age 65, but there are always exceptions. Patients younger than 18 can sometimes undergo the procedure, but doctors usually prefer to hold off because your vision may continue to change. If you’re older than 40 and noticing blurry reading vision, a different procedure may be more suitable.
If you’re over age 65, LASIK isn’t impossible, but you should expect longer healing time. It’s also possible that you’re suffering from cataracts, or a yellowing of the eye’s lens, which LASIK cannot fix. Your doctor can recommend treatments and procedures that can help alleviate a condition like cataracts.
You’re in good general health.
Because LASIK is a surgical procedure — albeit a minor one — it will require some healing time, so you should be in good general health prior to the procedure. Unfortunately, certain health problems can disqualify you from LASIK, including uncontrolled diabetes, autoimmune or collagen vascular disease, or any condition that suppresses or compromises your immune response (or that requires you to take immune system-suppressing medication).
If you suffer from any of these conditions, LASIK may not be off the table for you forever. If that’s the case, your doctor can provide recommendations on how to prepare your immune system for the procedure and ensure the best possible outcome.
Your eyes are in good health, too.
Eye diseases like keratoconus, glaucoma, cataracts, and corneal disease can’t be treated with LASIK, but beyond that, they may also exclude patients from getting the procedure altogether. As a general rule, corneal-thinning diseases make LASIK more difficult to perform and may hurt patients’ eligibility.
In addition, LASIK candidates need plenty of fluid in their eyes in order to safely recover from the surgery. If you’ve experienced or currently suffer from severe dry eyes, LASIK may not be a good fit for you. Some medication, including isotretinoin, can also reduce hydration and put your eyes at risk. Make sure to complete your course of medication prior to the procedure.
Your vision prescription hasn’t changed drastically in a year.
Many people believe that their vision must be completely stable for a full year before getting LASIK, but that’s not exactly true. For most people, any vision changes after the age of 18 will be relatively minor and shouldn’t affect the surgery. Your surgeon will still want to check and make sure that your vision hasn’t changed too drastically, however.
As a general rule, if you’ve had the same prescription for 12 months or more, that should be sufficiently stable for the LASIK procedure. You should undergo regular eye exams during this year to ensure that your prescription is still a good fit for you.
You’re not pregnant or nursing.
Unfortunately, the hormones that your body releases during pregnancy and nursing can affect the stability of your prescription. To give your eyes time to settle back into their normal prescription prior to your LASIK procedure, some doctors recommend waiting for three menstrual cycles after the patient stops nursing to pursue LASIK.
Your cornea is 0.5 mm in thickness.
Even without the influence of abnormal eye conditions, some people have corneas that are too thin for LASIK. Due to the nature of the procedure, a corneal thickness of under 0.5 mm will likely preclude you from undergoing the surgery.
You’ll have to make an appointment with your doctor to determine the thickness of your cornea. If your doctor finds that your cornea is too thin for LASIK, he or she will be able to walk you through other potential vision solutions.
Your expectations are in line with your vision concerns.
LASIK’s results will vary from person to person, depending on the type and severity of a patient’s eye issues. Before you undergo the procedure, make sure that your doctor has briefed you on what to expect given your particular concerns. You don’t want to be taken by surprise when you need follow-up surgery or still have to wear reading glasses at times.
Remember that this list is not comprehensive by any means — while it should give you a good idea of whether or not you’re a strong LASIK candidate, only your eye doctor can make the final call as to whether or not LASIK is right for you. Schedule an appointment with an eye care professional at the Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas today to weigh your options.
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