If you wear glasses, you might remember the day when you put on your first pair. Maybe you were so excited to wear them because you thought they’d make you look smarter. Many people look forward to having glasses because it will help them achieve a style. After all, even celebrities choose to wear fake frames.
But not every person who wears glasses wants to wear them all the time. Which is why glasses wearers choose to supplement with contacts, too. Putting in contact lenses day in and day out can sometimes get tiring. It’s also not unusual for contact lens wearers to experience eye discomfort and redness over time, which can make it impossible for them to use contacts at all. Comfort and efficiency are just two of the reasons that people often opt for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery.
LASIK has become a popular procedure and, it seems, most people are satisfied with the results. However, LASIK surgery isn’t the vision-correction answer for everyone. Certainly, it’s not without risks.
If you’re wondering how to determine if you’re a good candidate for LASIK surgery and if it’s a good choice for your health, there are some things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, don’t make a move without consulting your eye doctor. Your personal ophthalmologist or optometrist will know your eyes best, so talk to them about the pros and cons early on in your decision-making process. Having the best surgical outcome will mean taking the time to have your eyes carefully evaluated beforehand.
- Generally speaking, LASIK surgery is most appropriate for people who have a moderate degree of:
- Nearsightedness (myopia), in which you see nearby objects clearly, but objects in the distance are blurry.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia), in which you can clearly see far-away, but nearby objects are blurry.
- Astigmatism, which is having overall blurry vision.
What’s the procedure like, you ask? Well, LASIK surgery is a type of refractive eye surgery where the eye surgeon creates a flap in the cornea and uses a laser to reshape the cornea and correct the pertinent vision problem.
As with any surgery, LASIK surgery has its risks. There aren’t guarantees that you’ll get the clearer vision. For example, the surgeon might overcorrect or undercorrect the problem, depending on much tissue is removed from your eye. Undercorrection, overcorrection or astigmatism. If the laser removes too little or too much tissue from your eye, you won’t get the clearer vision you wanted.
You can also expect some vision disturbances afterward, like difficulty seeing at night. Temporarily, you might have double vision, or you’ll notice glare or halos around bright lights.
Dry eyes are something else to look for after surgery, as LASIK surgery causes a temporary decrease in tear production.
You’re probably not a good candidate for refractive surgery if you’re very concerned about the risks. Certain complications are unavoidable in a percentage of patients, and there are no long-term data available for current procedures.
The safety and effectiveness of LASIK surgery has not been determined in patients with some diseases. Certain conditions, such as HIV or autoimmune diseases (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), not to mention some medications (e.g., retinoic acid and steroids), may prevent proper healing after LASIK surgery.
There’s also a concern for patients who are in their early 20s or younger (currently, no lasers are approved for LASIK on persons under the age of 18), who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or whose hormones are fluctuating due to disease such as diabetes. In these cases, there could be possible additional risks that patients should discuss with their doctor.
Also, you should discuss LASIK surgery with your doctor if you have a history of Herpes simplex or Herpes zoster (shingles) involving the eye area–or if you’ve had any previous eye surgeries or eye injuries (or you’re susceptible to future eye injuries from, say, participation in a sport like boxing).
Cost is another deterrent for many candidates. Most medical insurance will not pay for LASIK. Because of the growing popularity, it seems, the price is coming down. But it’s still a significant investment.
Like many optional surgical procedures, LASIK surgery isn’t for everyone. It’s about your individual expectations and goals for your vision. Whatever you choose, make sure that you’ve weighed all your options. Do your research and arm yourself with as much information as possible.
LASIK eye surgery (Mayo Clinic)