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Am I a LASIK Candidate?

Advances in laser technology have made LASIK surgery a viable option for an increasing number of individuals who suffer from vision problems, including those who were previously deemed ineligible for the procedure. Today, LASIK surgery can be used to correct higher-order aberrations in addition to hyperopia, myopia, and astigmatism. However, not all patients who suffer from these vision problems are ideal LASIK candidates.

LASIK Candidates

Being a good candidate is a significant factor in achieving a successful outcome. All potential patients are screened very carefully with a comprehensive consultation. You may qualify for LASIK eye surgery if you are:

Over 18 years of age

While some patients are able to get LASIK at age 18 under the right circumstances, we generally advise against it. The younger you are when you get LASIK, the more likely you are to need an enhancement surgery later on when your eyes grow and change.

Stable in your prescription

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.

Nearsighted, farsighted, and/or astigmatic

LASIK effectively restores vision for qualifying patients with a range of vision conditions, including myopia, hyperopia, 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.

Have appropriate corneal thickness

During traditional LASIK surgery, surgeons make an incision in the cornea to create a flap through which the underlying tissues of the eye are accessed. When the cornea is thin or the eye prescription is very high, LASIK may not be an option. In patients with irregular corneas including corneal dystrophy like keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration and others, laser vision correction of any sort is not advised.

A good LASIK candidate should also be able to commit to follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and sustained results from the procedure.

When LASIK May Not be an Option

Not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK, you may not qualify for the procedure if:

You have an eye disease

If you have a disease or are on medications that may affect wound healing LASIK might not be an option for you. Certain conditions, such as autoimmune diseases (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), immunodeficiency states (e.g., HIV) and diabetes, and some medications (e.g., retinoic acid and steroids) may prevent proper healing after a refractive procedure. Patients with eye pathology like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy should not have LASIK.

You have eye infections, corneal scarring or injuries within a year prior to surgery

It is important to disclose any past infections of or injuries to the eye before undergoing the LASIK procedure. These conditions can affect the results of surgery and lead to complications during the procedure. In addition, LASIK surgery may lead to a resurgence of a previous infection, if not properly addressed.

You are 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.

You suffer from chronic dry eye

When an eye is exceedingly dry such as with collagen vascular disease like rheumatoid arthritis, laser vision correction might not be advantageous. Patients with dry eyes can get LASIK, but it must be under control before undergoing the procedure. This may include starting a dry eye regimen with your eye doctor, or making lifestyle changes or taking medications to help increase tear production. If you’re interested in LASIK but know that your dry eye is an issue, it’s important to treat your dry eye symptoms sooner rather than later.

A good LASIK candidate should also be able to commit to follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and sustained results from the procedure.