Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is a permanent refractive eye surgery that is used to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The procedure involves the use of a laser to reshape the cornea. Successful LASIK procedures reduce, and often eliminate, the need for glasses and contact lenses.
However, LASIK is not the best option for everyone, and success largely depends on whether you meet the patient criteria. If you’re considering vision correction surgery, the first step is to determine whether you are a good candidate for LASIK.
Are You a Good Fit for LASIK?
An in-depth eye exam and consultation is the best way to determine if LASIK is right for you. There are also some general criteria that potential candidates must meet in order to be eligible for LASIK surgery.
Age: Most doctors recommend the patient be over 18 years old. Generally, the best age to have corrective surgery is that age when the eyes have fully matured (some doctors recommend patients wait until they reach 21 years of age and/or have had a stable prescription for at least 12 months).
General health: The best candidates for LASIK are in good general health and should not have certain health problems, including diabetes and autoimmune disorders, or take any medication that compromises the immune system’s response. Make sure your eye doctor is aware of any health problems and medications you are taking, as these may affect LASIK surgery or recovery.
Eye health: A thorough eye exam can determine whether your eyes are healthy enough for LASIK surgery. Generally, candidates should be free of eye diseases and conditions including keratoconus, glaucoma, amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (muscle imbalance), or any recurrent or residual eye problems that may influence healing. Chronic dry eye is a common issue that disqualifies most LASIK candidates. Patients should also not have any eye infections or injuries.
Stable vision: Eye doctors want your vision to be stable for at least one year before performing LASIK. Changes to your corrective eyewear prescription may indicate that your corneas are changing and that the results of LASIK surgery could be short lived.
Pregnancy: During pregnancy your body produces high quantities of the hormones estrogen, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), progesterone, prolactin oxytocin and relaxin – all of which result in changes in your body and common pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness. These hormones can also affect your eyes and vision. Fluctuations in your vision, decreased tear production and sensitivity to light are common eye changes experienced during this time. The shape of your cornea can also change (especially if you’re retaining water), which is problematic for LASIK as surgeon’s use measurements of this part of the eye to determine where corneal tissue should be removed to improve your vision. Therefore, providers typically recommend waiting until your eyes are stable before undergoing the procedure.
Medications used during and after LASIK may pose a risk to your child while you’re pregnant or nursing. Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can also trigger dry eye symptoms and cause vision to fluctuate. Eye surgeons recommend candidates have at least one menstrual period, either after the baby is born (if you are not breastfeeding) or after you have stopped nursing, before undergoing LASIK.
Are you a suitable candidate for this life-changing procedure? Take an online LASIK evaluation to find out! Simply answer a few quick questions about yourself and your lifestyle and we’ll tell you if LASIK could be right for you.
LASIK Consultation and Exam: What to Expect
If you meet the general criteria for LASIK, the next step is to schedule a consultation with a laser eye surgeon. Expect to discuss your medical history, as well as your expectations and goals, and receive a thorough eye exam to determine if you are a candidate for laser vision-correction surgery. Make sure to bring an up-to-date list of current medications and dosages, as well as a summary of your medical history (specifically conditions and injuries of the eye).
The goal of this initial consultation and exam is to collect as much information as possible to help your doctor make the best choice for your immediate and long-term vision. Diagnostic tools and tests will be used to evaluate and measure every aspect of your eye; the results will be used to determine if you are a good candidate for LASIK.
Some of the information your LASIK provider will gather and use to make a recommendation about your vision correction options include:
- Refraction measurements (dilated eye exam)
- Analysis of the eye’s focusing ability
- Curvature, shape, and thickness of the cornea (front surface of the eye)
- Health and function of the retina
- Tear film composition and volume
- Eyeball dimensions (length, width, etc.) and the size of the pupil
After the consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask your doctor questions. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a list of recommended questions to ask when considering LASIK. Some questions to ask your ophthalmologist or LASIK eye surgeon include:
- About how long does it take for eyes to recover and adjust after surgery? What kinds of adjustments at work or home might I need to make during this time?
- What are the costs of LASIK and of potential related treatments?
- What results can I reasonably expect? What might be the best and worst-case scenarios?
- Are my current and near future lifestyle choices (including work, family life, and sports/recreation) compatible with LASIK?
- What are my other options?
A Note About Contact Lenses
If you wear contact lenses, you will need to switch to wearing glasses full-time before your LASIK examination. Contact lenses change the shape of your cornea for up to several weeks after you stopped using them. If you do not give your eyes enough time to assume their natural shape before surgery, your eye doctor may collect inaccurate measurements that can have negative consequences on the surgery.
The type of contact lenses you wear will determine how long you should stop wearing them before your initial evaluation.
- Stop wearing soft contact lenses for 3 Days before your initial evaluation and 3 days before surgery.
- Stop wearing hard lenses for at least four weeks before your initial evaluation
LASIK Success and Safety
At this point, if you’re considering LASIK you may be wondering if it’s worth it, and if it’s safe. Fortunately, both questions have the same answer: Yes! But don’t just take our word for it.
Take the Next Step
If you have questions or would like to learn if you’re a good candidate for LASIK, contact the eye surgeons at Southwestern Eye Center. We utilize the latest, state-of-the-art laser technology. Our team of eye doctors and LASIK surgeons are more than happy to tell you how this technology can help you achieve optimal vision results.
Contact us online or call (602) 404-6502 to schedule your free LASIK consultation.