Are you considering LASIK surgery? You’ll be joining millions of Americans who enjoy lens-free or reduced, lens-dependent lives as a result of this simple, outpatient, corneal correction.
Successful LASIK surgeries are performed on adults of all ages, but there are certain criteria that make for a good LASIK candidate, and factors that may mean LASIK isn’t the right procedure for you. Moving forward with LASIK if you are not a good candidate means risking your eye health and could permanently worsen your current vision status.
Are You A Good LASIK Candidate?
Here are 8 of the top criteria doctors are looking for before proceeding with LASIK:
Your eyes are generally healthy
Do you know the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist? Odds are you’re more likely to see an optometrist for routine, complete vision checks. If s/he feels you’re a good candidate for LASIK, s/he will refer you to an ophthalmologist, a surgical MD who performs LASIK and other eye surgeries, and who also treats more serious eye conditions.
If you have an existing eye issue such as an eye infection, chronic dry eyes, or a known degenerative eye disease, your doctor will work with you to restore eye health before considering moving forward with LASIK. In the case of degenerative eye disease, LASIK not be an option.
Your body is in good, general health
While LASIK is a simple, easy, and outpatient surgical procedure, it is still a surgery. A small incision will be made in one or both eyes, and that means your body must be healthy enough to fight off infection (we will also supply antibiotic eye drops) and to heal well. If you have illnesses or medical conditions that make you more prone to infection, or that inhibit the natural healing process, your doctor may recommend sticking with your current lens prescription to be safe.
Conditions that may prohibit your ability to get LASIK include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic pain conditions (such as fibromyalgia or migraines)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
If you have one of the above or another condition that is known to inhibit healing, your eye doctor will speak with your general physician or specialist. If the condition is stable and symptoms are managed well, you may still be a candidate.
You should be 25 years old or older
Technically, LASIK candidates must be 18-years or older. However, most optometrists and ophthalmologists recommend waiting until at least your mid-20s. This is because your prescription typically changes and evolves more notably during the young adult years, and then plateaus (stabilizes) for a while before age-related vision changes take place.
By waiting until you are past your early-20s, the surgery will be more effective. If you get LASIK too young, your cornea may continue changing faster than you’d like, which renders the surgery less effective. You could wind up having to wear glasses or contacts again, or having another LASIK surgery, much earlier than if you had waited a few more years before pursuing LASIK.
Your lens prescription is within a certain range
LASIK effectively restores vision for qualifying patients with a range of vision conditions, including myopia hyperopia, presbyopia, astigmatism, and others. However, some prescriptions are simply too high for LASIK to be worth the expense. The FDA has approved LASIK for patients with up to approximately +6.00 diopters of farsightedness, -12 diopters of nearsightedness, and 6.00 diopters of astigmatism.
And, even within these parameters, there may be situations where your ophthalmologist may feel LASIK isn’t the best option for you.
Your vision has stabilized
If your vision prescription has changed every six months to a year, your eye doctor will probably not recommend LASIK for the same reasons we don’t recommend it for younger adults. There’s no point in surgically correcting the cornea if it is still changing. Instead, ophthalmologists prefer to wait until the patient’s prescription has stabilized for at least 12 months, 18- to 24-months is even better.
Your LASIK surgery can only correct vision for your current prescription. So, if and when your vision changes again, you would need glasses or another LASIK surgery (as long as your cornea is still thick enough – see #7 below).
You are not pregnant
Pregnancy hormones alter just about every system in your body, including vision. For this reason, pregnant women often experience vision changes that stabilize again once the baby is born. Eye doctors only perform LASIK after the pregnancy and a few months of postpartum hormone balance have stabilized a patient’s vision.
Your corneas are thick enough
During the LASIK surgery, your corneas will be “shaved” or “sculpted” by the laser. This is only safe if your corneas are thick enough to remain healthy and functional, supporting their newly contoured shape. The average corneal thickness is between 540 µm and 560 µm. If the doctor takes measurements and your cornea is much thinner than 540 µm, the surgery may not be effective and could permanently damage the cornea.
You are well-informed and 100% sure
Finally, your doctor wants to know that you are educated, informed, and 100% sure about the procedure. There are potential risks and side effects associated with LASIK. While permanent risks are extremely low, the side effects are typically temporary. Even so, they can be irritating to some patients. For example, LASIK patients often experience things like light sensitivity, halos or glares around lights at night – leading to night blindness, dry eye, or a continued need for glasses or contacts until vision stabilizes again.
Is LASIK Your Next Step?
The team at the Atlantic Eye Institute is committed to ensuring all of our patients are well-informed, have calculated the benefits vs the risks, and are confident that LASIK is the right next step for them. Ready to learn more or to see if you are a good LASIK candidate? Schedule an exam with the Atlantic Eye Institute online or give us a call at (904) 241-7865.