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Lasik Eye Surgery: What Conditions Make You a Candidate?

Lasik Eye Surgery: What Conditions Make You a Candidate?

People who suffer from blurred and distorted vision may find themselves considering LASIK laser operation. Are you an ideal LASIK eye surgery candidate? Find out when you read this article.

How Our Eyes Work

If you want to ascertain if you are a LASIK eye surgery candidate, then you must first appreciate how our eyes work.

For us to see things, the cornea, which is the clear protective layer in front of the eyes, together with the lens, focuses light into the retina. The process of focusing light happens by bending it in the process called refraction.

Once the retina receives the light, it will transform it into signals that the brain can form into images. That is when we see things.

However, most people have imperfect corneal shape, leading to a decreased focusing power or the inability to bend light correctly (refractive error). This imperfection results in “out-of-focus” images that will appear distorted or blurred – something that people with refractive errors often experience.

The Refractive Errors

Refractive errors, as mentioned earlier, happen when we cannot focus light correctly. People with refractive eye errors do not see things clearly in a given situation.

There are three types of refractive errors, and if you are a LASIK eye surgery candidate, you probably have one of them:

  • Nearsightedness. Also called myopia; this is when you see things clearly when they are near. However, it is hard for you to see faraway objects.
  • Farsightedness. Medically called hyperopia, this is the opposite of myopia. In this condition, you will see things clearly if they are far. However, you will not be seeing near objects that clearly.
  • Presbyopia. This is also farsightedness commonly occurring to middle-aged or advance-aged people. Presbyopia happens due to the loss of the elasticity of the lens.
  • Astigmatism. A person who has astigmatism will see distorted images of near or far objects.

Please note refractive eye errors are the most common vision problems. In fact, it is typical that astigmatism combines with either nearsightedness or farsightedness.

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What is LASIK Eye Surgery?

Now that you know about refractive eye errors, it is time to define what LASIK surgery is. LASIK stands for “Laser in-situ keratomileusis,” and this surgery is a type of laser-assisted operation that corrects refractive errors.

The idea is to use the laser in a controlled and precise manner to remove some of the corneal tissues to “reshape” it. This reshaping will ideally allow the cornea to bend light correctly, thus, increasing its focusing power.

If you are wondering if LASIK can regain a 20/20 vision, you will be happy to know that, yes, it can. Although some factors are to be considered, such as how high your prescriptions were pre-LASIK.

According to Christopher Hood, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, at best, a person will be getting what they can achieve with prescription glasses and lenses.

Who Are the Ideal LASIK Eye Surgery Candidates?

To determine if you are an ideal LASIK eye surgery candidate, you must meet the following criteria:

Age

You need to be 18 years or older to get the surgery, but not over the age of 65. If you are under 18, the doctor may not want you to have LASIK because it is possible for your eyesight to still change.

Overall Health

To be a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery, you must be of good general health. This means that you should not have diseases like uncontrolled diabetes or certain vascular diseases. Additionally, if you take medications that affect your immunity, the doctor may also direct you to other treatment options.

Eye Health

For LASIK, there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to eye health. A good candidate for LASIK eye surgery should not have any of the following conditions:

  • Corneal diseases
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diseases of the retina and optic nerve
  • Herpes simplex and herpes zoster
  • Dry eyes
  • Any kind of eye injury or infection

Other Eye Conditions

Moreover, if you have eye conditions that may affect recovery, you should disclose them to your eye doctor. Examples of these conditions are amblyopia or lazy eye, and strabismus.

Lazy eye is a condition wherein one of the eyes has a poorer vision than the other. Strabismus, on the other hand, affects eye muscles causing squinting.

Aside from the restrictions set above, the other requirements to be an eligible LASIK eye surgery candidate include:

  • A stable vision at least a year before the preferred date of LASIK
  • The corneal thickness of at least 0.5 mm
  • Being contact lens-free for a certain length of time; will be discussed by your eye doctor during your consultation.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women or those who are planning to get pregnant in six months or so should not undergo LASIK. Also, LASIK is contraindicated for nursing mothers. This is because the changes in hormones brought about by pregnancy and breastfeeding may affect the refraction.

Only consider LASIK after you already have 3 menstrual cycles since you stopped breastfeeding.

How Long Do the Effects Last?

According to experts, many patients who have had LASIK eye surgery maintain their excellent vision for 10 years. After a decade, they may need to undergo what is called LASIK enhancement, which is a follow-up LASIK surgery.

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What Are the Risks of LASIK?

Even if you are a LASIK eye surgery candidate, you are not exempted from the risks after the procedure.

Please note that a lot of people who have had LASIK had reported having dry eyes and changing vision throughout the day. However, many of them said that the effects also disappeared. Some stopped experiencing them in a month, while for others, it took longer.

Aside from dry eyes and changing vision, the other risks of LASIK are:

  • Small, red patches of blood in the white of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain or discomfort in the eyes
  • Blurry vision; some also describe it as hazy and foggy
  • Glare
  • Scratchy eyes
  • Seeing halos or starbursts around lights

Remember this: although most of these side-effects disappear eventually, the risk that they would stay permanently is also there.

Additionally, LASIK does not guarantee that you will stop wearing glasses or contact lenses. There are times when the surgery results in under-correction or over-correction. Under-correction occurs when too little tissues were removed, compared to over-correction where too many tissues were removed. Cases like this may require the use of corrective contact lenses or glasses.

Finally, although rare, people who have had LASIK may also develop eye infections and even blindness. They may also have worse vision than before they had the surgery. Unfortunately, it is possible that it cannot be corrected by wearing glasses and contact lenses.

Key Takeaways

Even if after thorough research and you find yourself to be a good LASIK eye surgery candidate, you must still talk to your eye doctor. If you are happy with wearing contact lenses and glasses, your doctor may even discourage you from doing the surgery.

Learn more about Eye Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Refractive Errors
https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/refractive-errors
Accessed July 3, 2020

Am I a Candidate For LASIK Surgery?
https://www.tlcvision.com/lasik-candidate/#:~:text=Age%3A%20Candidates%20must%20be%20at,that%20compromises%20the%20immune%20response.
Accessed July 3, 2020

LASIK — Laser Eye Surgery
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/lasik
Accessed July 3, 2020

Pros and Cons of LASIK: Are the Risks Worth the Cost?
https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/eye-health/pros-and-cons-of-lasik-are-risks-worth-cost
Accessed July 3, 2020

LASIK surgery: Is it right for you?
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lasik-eye-surgery/in-depth/lasik-surgery/art-20045751
Accessed July 3, 2020

8 Ways to Know If You’re a Candidate for LASIK or Another Type of Vision Correction Procedure,
https://www.lasikmd.com/blog/8-ways-know-youre-candidate-lasik-another-type-vision-correction-procedure
Accessed July 3, 2020

What is LASIK?
https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/what-lasik
Accessed July 3, 2020

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 18
Medically reviewed by Victor Ephraime V. Paulino, MD, DPBO
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