If you don’t want to wear contact lenses or eyeglasses, then you may wonder if LASIK surgery is right for you. This type of refractive surgery has a great track record and can help people achieve 20/20 vision or better, which is great for most activities.
Most people are happy with the results. Certain side effects, such as temporary visual problems or dry eyes, are common and these issues clear up after a few weeks. Your results will depend on your refractive errors, as well as some different factors. Those who just have mild nearsightedness have the best results. Those with a higher degree of farsightedness or nearsightedness, or an astigmatism, have less predictable results.
What Is LASIK Surgery?
There are different types of laser refractive surgery, but LASIK is the most commonly performed. The word LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. This surgery is performed to eliminate the need for glasses and to treat myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. It replaces the need to wear contacts and glasses by reshaping the cornea to allow light that enters the eye to be more focused on the retina, thus providing clearer vision. Blurry vision is usually corrected by bending the light rays with contact lenses or glasses. However, reshaping the cornea will also provide this correction.
How Does LASIK Surgery Work?
Before your procedure, your eye surgeon needs to take a detailed assessment of the eye with measurements. Dr. Priya Mathews completed her ophthalmic fellowship in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. She uses a laser to change the curvature of the cornea. The laser beam takes away a tiny bit of cornea tissue in order to make the curve of the cornea steeper or flatter. Usually, the surgeon will create a flap in the cornea and then raise it up before he or she reshapes the cornea. There are different variations, such as PRK, where the surgeon doesn’t use a flap or there is a very tiny flap raised. Each technique serves its purpose depending on your occupation or lifestyle.
Do You Have Healthy Eyes?
In order for LASIK surgery to be right for you, you shouldn’t have any unusual vision problems and only a modest degree of refractive error. To best evaluate the health of your eyes, an eye surgeon will ask questions about your eye health and also check out your eyes to make sure you don’t have issues that could cause poor outcomes or complications for surgery. Some of these conditions include cataracts, glaucoma, large pupils, dry eyes, eye disorders or injuries, keratitis, or keratoconus. It is important to treat your dry eyes, because they can lead to an unreliable refraction error or cause additional dryness following your procedure.
You may also need to reevaluate if LASIK surgery is right for you if you have been diagnosed with a high refractive error. Sometimes the benefits of LASIK surgery aren’t enough to justify the risks there are. If you do have fairly good vision overall and only need glasses or contacts part time then the improvement you will get from the surgery may also not be worth the risk. LASIK may also not be the right choice if you participate in contact sports where you can get blows to the eyes or face, such as boxing or martial arts. In this event, a discussion about PRK may be more appropriate.
Are You in Good Health?
Not only do your eyes have to be in good health but your general health is also considered. Some medical conditions that aren’t related to your eyes can increase the risk associated with LASIK surgery and make the outcome not as predictable. These include any disease that affects the immune system, diabetes, depression, and certain chronic pain conditions. If you are taking an immunosuppressive medication for any reason then LASIK may also not be right for you.
Any disease that affects the immune system makes it harder to heal and you would be more prone to infection after surgery. Chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, migraine, or irritable bowel syndrome, can mean that you may have more postoperative pain or issues with dry eyes.
Is Your Vision Stable?
If you have myopia then your vision might change when you are a teenager or even after. This would mean you require periodic changes in your prescription of contact lenses or glasses. Only those over the age of 18 should have LASIK surgery. Many surgeons prefer the patient to be over 21 years of age so that the vision is more stable. Certain medications and conditions, such as steroid drugs, breastfeeding, and pregnancy, can also cause some temporary changes in vision. You need to wait until your vision has stabilized if you want to consider LASIK surgery.
Affording LASIK Surgery
Part of determining if LASIK surgery is right for you is affordability. Medical and vision insurance plans won’t cover laser eye surgery and consider it an elective procedure so you should know about the cost and see if it is something you can afford. Most practices offering LASIK or PRK have specials throughout the year to decrease the overall cost of the procedure.
Understanding the Possible Side Effects and Risk
Complications are rare but it’s still important to understand them before you determine if this is the right choice for you. Certain side effects, such as visual issues and dry eyes, are common.
Dry Eyes: The procedure can cause a temporary decrease in your tear production that can last for the first six months after surgery. You may need to use eye drops during this time. If you have severe dry eyes already then discussing your dry eye treatment options with a specialist is strongly recommended.
Halos, Double Vision, and Glare: After surgery, you may have trouble seeing at night, but this will typically last a few days or few weeks.
Undercorrections or Overcorrections: It’s possible that the laser can remove too much, or too little tissue and you don’t get the results you hope for. Therefore, an experienced LASIK surgeon is recommended and makes sure the ocular surface is sufficient for this procedure.
Issues with the Flap: Removing or folding back the flap can cause complications, including excess tears or infection.
Contact Lenses before LASIK Surgery
You will have to stop wearing your contact lenses and switch to wearing glasses 1 week before your procedure. While this is not usually an issue, it can be an important point for some people. Contact lenses change the natural shape of the cornea, and this leads to inaccurate measurements. The wrong measurements would mean a non-optimal surgical outcome.
Reading Glasses Versus LASIK
All adults will lose some of the ability to focus on nearby objects by their mid-40s. This means that it can be hard to see when doing up-close tasks or reading and you may require reading glasses. If you are older and considering LASIK, you may want to have vision corrected for monovision. This means that one eye will be corrected to see near vision and one eye will be corrected to see distance vision. Not everyone tolerates this well and it’s a good idea to do a test run with contact lenses before undergoing a more permanent solution, such as LASIK.
Expectations for Laser Surgery
Many who have LASIK surgery have excellent vision for many years in the future. However, as you get older or are trying to see in low light conditions, you may still need to wear glasses. Most people also have a high satisfaction after undergoing the procedure. Even though refraction may get worse as you get older and vision might not stay the same as it does immediately after surgery, this doesn’t seem to be a large problem. The exact decline in vision can be unpredictable. It’s best to discuss expectations with our LASIK Specialist Dr. Priya Mathews.
Contact Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute
If you are interested in LASIK and want to know if it could be the right fit for you, contact Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute. With the most advanced technologies and physicians, you can rest easy knowing you are in good hands if you want to pursue LASIK surgery to improve your vision.