Many patients who have undergone LASIK become worried when they begin developing cataracts, wondering how cataract surgery may affect the improved vision they achieved through LASIK. Meanwhile, patients who have undergone cataract surgery sometimes find that the power of their intraocular lens (IOL) is not perfect, and they wish to reduce or eliminate their need for glasses. The sophisticated laser surgical instruments and other advanced technology used at SightMD make it possible for both types of patients to achieve their goals safely and effectively. Regardless of which type of patient you are, our doctors can answer your questions regarding cataract surgery and LASIK and find the solution best suited to your case.
Cataract Surgery after LASIK
Most LASIK patients do not develop cataracts until many years after their surgery. Nonetheless, cataracts are a common condition, especially among people in their fifties and older, so LASIK patients should understand that they may require cataract surgery at some point in their lives.
Both LASIK and cataract surgery involve the cornea, albeit in considerably different ways. In LASIK, a flap is created in the outermost layer of the cornea so that the underlying corneal tissues can be reshaped to improve vision. In cataract surgery, incisions are made in the cornea, through which the broken-up clouded natural lens is removed. It is perfectly understandable that many patients are apprehensive about incisions being made in their already surgically altered corneas.
Fortunately, the CATALYS® Precision Laser allows our surgeons to remove cataracts with exceptional accuracy, making cataract surgery safer and more effective for all patients, including those who have undergone LASIK. Because we are able to plan and execute corneal incisions with absolute precision, we are able to break up and remove the cataract-affected lens without disturbing surrounding tissues. As a result, the cornea sustains minimal trauma and retains its shape.
After the lens has been removed, it is replaced with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) that can further enhance the visual improvements achieved through LASIK. Before cataract surgery, we use the ORA System® to analyze the dimensions of the eye – including the post-LASIK refinements in the cornea – to determine which IOL options will provide the best results.
LASIK to Enhance Cataract Surgery Results
Most patients who have IOLs placed during cataract surgery find that they no longer require glasses for most basic tasks. Some, however, experience significantly improved but still flawed vision. These latter patients are often disappointed to learn that they are basically exchanging their old glasses for new glasses with a weaker prescription.
Fortunately, it is safe for most patients to fine-tune their vision through LASIK after cataract surgery. Successful LASIK treatment in post-cataract patients requires incredibly precise analysis of the dimensions of the eye to account for the effects of cataract surgery. Our sophisticated technology allows us to capture this data with unrivaled accuracy.
Good candidates for post-cataract surgery LASIK include those who have fully healed from cataract surgery and whose vision has fully stabilized, which usually requires at least three months. These patients should also have adequate corneal thickness to accommodate the creation of the corneal flap. Some patients may be better candidates for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), another form of laser eye surgery. PRK requires a longer healing period than LASIK, but can provide equally excellent results.