Thanks to advancements in modern technology, there are now several corrective procedures that could help restore or improve your eyesight. Unfortunately, not all these procedures are available for all members of the population, since there are many variables that could negatively affect your vision and many underlying health conditions that could complicate a procedure.
You can take a quick test to learn if you’re a candidate for LASIK and other corrective procedures, but it’s a good idea to learn how LASIK works and what separates a good candidate from a poor one.
The Basics of LASIK
LASIK is the most common type of corrective eye procedure, and it stands for Laser in Situ Keratomileusis, so you can see why people call it LASIK. Basically, it uses a laser to reshape the cornea underneath a surgically cut corneal flap. Usually, problems with the shape of the cornea are the root cause of vision problems like nearsightedness. Glasses and contact lenses refocus light to make up for these vision errors, but LASIK gets straight to the heart of the problem.
LASIK surgery is generally considered safe, but a small percentage of patients may experience recurring vision or eye problems, such as a “halo” effect around lighting, aberrations in night vision, or in very rare cases, persistent eye dryness and/or pain.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
LASIK isn’t the right procedure for every person with vision abnormalities. For example, you’ll want to consider:
- The source of your vision problem. First, you’ll need to consider the real source of your vision problem. Most simple problems with distance-related blurriness are due to a misshaped cornea, which LASIK surgery can remedy. However, if you notice a cloudy blur over everything you see, that may be due to a cataract, and LASIK surgery won’t do anything to correct that problem. Instead, you’ll need a specific cataract surgery to clear or replace the lens of your eye. Talk to your optometrist about the true nature and source of your vision problems before you further consider LASIK.
- The severity and consistency of your vision problem. You’ll also need to think about the severity and consistency of your vision problems. LASIK is a good procedure for anyone suffering from mild to moderate vision impairments; if your vision is nearly perfect, LASIK isn’t worth the risk. If your vision is extremely bad, LASIK may not be enough to improve your vision to an acceptable level. Also, LASIK is best for people who have vision that is consistently bad; if your prescription varies significantly from year to year, it may not be a good idea to have LASIK.
- Your personal risk tolerance. The majority of LASIK procedures are completed without complications, and patients go on to see clearly and healthily for the indefinite future. However, there are some risks involved with the procedure. In some cases, patients experience dry eyes or occasional eye pain, and in others, certain conditions can interfere with your vision, such as nighttime conditions or bright lights. Only get LASIK if you’re prepared for these potential risks.
- Your career. You may also need to consider your career. While LASIK can improve your performance in most jobs, some employers and career paths don’t allow for this type of corrective procedure. This is especially true of people with physically demanding jobs, or those involved in combat sports; trauma to the eye can impact the corneal flap, and result in further complications.
- Other underlying health conditions. Some underlying health conditions can also affect your candidacy for corrective eye surgery like LASIK. For example, if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you may not be able to heal as quickly or as efficiently as a typical LASIK candidate. This (and many other conditions) may disqualify you from undergoing LASIK.
- Your age. There isn’t a strict age requirement for LASIK surgery, but as you might suspect, young and old people aren’t good candidates for the surgery. Ideal candidates are over the age of 18, but still young enough to recover from the surgery quickly and fully.
Variations of the Procedure
There are also many different types of LASIK surgery to consider. For example, wavefront-optimized LASIK is a newer type of laser eye surgery that takes into account factors like the cornea’s thickness and relative curvature. There is evidence to suggest it results in fewer visual aberrations when complete.
If you aren’t a candidate for any type of LASIK surgery, there’s a chance you could qualify for a different form of corrective eye surgery. For example, patients with extreme myopia may be candidates for phakic intraocular lenses, which function as implants in the eye that can treat nearsightedness in the most advanced cases.
If you’re interested in corrective eye surgery but you still aren’t sure whether you qualify, or if you have questions regarding the procedure, make sure to speak with your optometrist. A professional will be able to answer your questions, and help you choose the best course of action for your eye health and overall vision.