What Qualifies You for LASIK

Nov 16, 2023

What is LASIK?

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is a very common procedure performed to reduce a patient’s dependency on an eyeglass prescription or contact lenses. LASIK corrects some of the most common vision problems that exist, known as refractive errors. People who suffer from hyperopia, or farsightedness, have difficulty seeing near objects as clearly as distant objects. Those with myopia, or nearsightedness, have more difficulty seeing distant objects as clearly as near objects. Those with astigmatism suffer from a distortion of the image on the retina—this is caused by irregularities in the cornea or lens of the eye. Glasses and contact lenses are designed to remedy these problems by compensating for the eye’s natural deficiencies. Thus, LASIK, a surgery that strives to fix the root of these issues, makes it possible for countless people to rely significantly less on their eye glasses or contact prescriptions.

If you think that LASIK might be the procedure for you, or if you’re interested in finding out whether you might qualify, read on—and be sure to contact an eye surgeon or LASIK doctor for a consultation.

Basic requirements for LASIK patients

Like any surgical procedure, you will have to meet a baseline level of health requirements in order to qualify for LASIK. There are specific qualities that determine whether or not people are good candidates for LASIK. For instance, LASIK requires a stable prescription that exists within a certain range. Your age is used as a general guideline as to whether or not your vision has stabilized. While you must only be over 18 to receive LASIK, many doctors prefer to wait until you’re 21 because your prescription may take a few more years to stabilize. Performing LASIK on a patient with an unstable prescription may lead to future dependency on eye glasses or contacts or the need for a second round of LASIK, which is something eye surgeons hope to avoid if possible.

How your eyeglass prescription relates to LASIK

In addition to having a stable prescription, LASIK tends to be most successful for patients whose prescriptions exist within a certain range. Specifically, LASIK may effectively correct -11 diopters of nearsightedness, +5 diopters of farsightedness, and 5 diopters of astigmatism. Fortunately, this range encapsulates the majority of patients who wear glasses and contact lenses, which is why LASIK is such a popular procedure. However, if you do happen to have a prescription beyond these limits or you don’t match the qualifying criteria described for LASIK, your eye doctor may recommend an alternative procedure.

Other factors that may impact your eligibility

There are several other factors that may impact the stability of your vision, which in turn could affect your eligibility for LASIK. Anyone who suffers from fluctuating hormones due to a disease such as diabetes, is pregnant or breastfeeding, or takes medications that can cause temporary fluctuations in vision should consult with a doctor about their risk for refractive instability before undergoing LASIK. Those who suffer from autoimmune disorders (such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) or take medications like retinoic acid or steroids may not be a good candidate for LASIK.

Additionally, in order to undergo LASIK, your eyes must be generally healthy and free of diseases, including glaucoma, eye infections, or herpes simplex/herpes zoster. Eye problems such as strabismus (otherwise known as misalignment of the eye) and amblyopia (lazy eye) may affect your ability to heal properly after LASIK. If you have corneas that measure less than 0.5 millimeters or suffer from dry eye disease, you may not be eligible for LASIK.

Alternative options for those not eligible for LASIK

There are some circumstances under which you may not be a good candidate for LASIK surgery. In this case, our experts will present you with an alternative procedure option if appropriate. At Columbus Laser & Cataract Center, we offer Advanced Surface Treatment (AST) and EVO Visian ICL for those who do not meet the LASIK requirements.

AST treats the same errors that LASIK does and also uses excimer laser treatment. The main difference between the two is that during AST the surgeon will leave the cornea intact—as opposed to creating a flap—and instead reshape the cornea directly on the surface. This is a safe and time-tested procedure that may be better-suited for patients with dry eye disease, thin corneas, and particularly high prescriptions who still hope for the results of LASIK. One notable consideration for patients who choose AST is that the recovery time is longer than LASIK. Fortunately, the results of laser eye surgery—LASIK or otherwise—are well worth it, regardless of a little extra recovery time.

Additionally, if AST is also not an option for you, we offer intraocular lenses (IOLs), which are small, implantable devices that can be used to treat the same refractive errors as LASIK. There are many different types of IOLs, all of which function by replacing your eye lens in order to aid astigmatism, hyperopia, presbyopia, and myopia.

What does laser eye surgery entail?

The way the cornea bends and focuses light is called refraction. When the shape of the cornea is imperfect, it causes the image focused on the retina to become out of focus or distorted. These imperfections cause refractive errors, which LASIK works to improve. The purpose of LASIK is to alter the shape of your cornea (the cover on the front of the eye), changing the way light is focused on your retina and perfecting whatever imperfections are causing vision problems. While glasses and contact lenses are designed to correct these issues while they are worn, LASIK works to correct the internal ocular issues.

During LASIK, your doctor will use a laser keratome to cut a flap in the cornea. This will be folded back so a computer-controlled excimer laser can vaporize the middle section of the cornea and reshape it. By reshaping the center of the cornea, the way that light refracts in your eye will be corrected, and your vision will be improved. LASIK success rates are extremely high, and very few people find themselves unsatisfied with their results. For more specific questions, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with a doctor at Columbus Laser & Cataract Center.

What does recovery after surgery look like?

Although LASIK is well-known for its relatively short recovery time, it should be treated like any other major procedure. After all, your vision is an important element of everyday life. Most LASIK patients will return to feeling themselves within a day or two of surgery. You may experience mild burning, pain, light sensitivity, or becoming teary directly after LASIK. However, this rarely lasts longer than a day. Note that you will need to schedule someone to drive you home after surgery and must avoid swimming and hot tubs for two weeks after the procedure.

Your doctor will provide you with a list of instructions for optimal recovery, and you should be able to resume almost all everyday activities within 24 to 48 hours. Though you may notice immediate improvements in your vision after LASIK, it will take between three and six months for your vision to completely stabilize. This is to be expected, as the results of LASIK are meant to be gradual for the smoothest recovery possible.

Although it has a very high satisfaction rate, there are some risks associated with LASIK. In a very rare number of cases, patients have experienced seeing “halos” or “starbursts” (bright or blurry patches in the vision), dry eyes, and glares. Additionally, sometimes an individual cornea’s response to LASIK will result in an over- or under-correction. If your corneal tissue is stronger than average, less tissue may be removed, and if tissue is weaker, more may be removed, resulting in over- and under-corrections, respectively. While this may necessitate a second procedure, this is only for a small number of cases.

Can you have LASIK with cataracts?

For a great deal of cataract patients, there are separate vision issues that contribute to poor vision on top of their cataracts. This can include the same common refractive errors that LASIK corrects. Because of this, some cataract patients hope that LASIK will provide the relief they seek instead of cataract surgery. However, LASIK isn’t able to correct or “reverse” a cataract in any way. Cataracts are caused by the natural clouding of the eye lens and must be surgically removed to restore clear vision. LASIK and cataract surgery are different procedures that target different issues. While many patients do benefit from receiving both, one cannot be a replacement for the other. If the problem with your vision is due to cataracts and refractive errors, your eye surgeon will likely recommend cataract surgery instead of LASIK.

During cataract surgery, your cloudy lens will be replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL). This removes blurriness and enhances your vision with the implanted lens for your eye. It is possible for patients to undergo LASIK once they have recovered from cataract surgery, which is a conversation you may have with your doctor. These two procedures grouped together can massively improve your vision and quality of life, which is why specialist centers such as CLCC exist to provide you with both under the same practice. For more information specifically about undergoing both cataract surgery and LASIK, click here.

Ready to reduce your reliance on your glasses prescription or contact lenses? When considering a serious procedure like LASIK, remember that no one can determine your eligibility except a qualified healthcare provider. If you are considering LASIK or any laser eye surgery alternatives, schedule a consultation with a LASIK specialist, like Dr. Beran or Dr. Weber.

Considering eye surgery? Don’t choose just any doctor for your procedure.

Whether you’re looking to undergo LASIK, cataract surgery, or another form of laser eye surgery, we are here to help. No matter the procedure, we hope you will schedule a consultation with a doctor at Columbus Laser & Cataract Center. Dr. Weber and Dr. Beran offer decades of combined expertise in refractive surgery and laser vision correction, as well as a passion for helping people improve their vision.

We look forward to speaking to you more about your goals and helping you start your vision transformation. For more information, please call (614)-939-1600.