Who Can Have LASIK Eye Surgery? Consideration and procedure



LASIK eye surgery is a common laser surgery procedure to correct vision problems, by removing or reducing the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. Suitable candidates for the procedure include people who have an ocular refractive error, are 21 years of age or older, and have a prescription that has not changed significantly in the past 12 months.

This article explores what the procedure involves, the risks and side effects, and how people can choose the right doctor to perform this type of eye surgery.

According to American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), LASIK surgery treats vision problems due to refractive errors.

Refractive errors occur when light rays cannot pass through the cornea and lens well enough to send signals from the retina to the brain. This blurs the image formed on the retina, causing blurred vision. LASIK surgery can permanently change the shape of the cornea so that light rays can focus on the retina.

The LASIK procedure treats:

It’s important to note that LASIK may not be able to treat presbyopia, an age-related refractive error that causes many people to wear reading glasses to correct.

Before performing LASIK surgery, a doctor will assess a person’s eye health and measure cornea, pupils, and refractive errors. People who wear contact lenses may need to change glasses for several weeks before the doctor takes these steps. This allows the cornea to return to its natural shape and reduces measurement inaccuracies.

During the procedure, a surgeon will cut a flap in the cornea, exposing the stroma, the middle part of the cornea. They will then use a pulsed laser to vaporize parts of the stroma before replacing the shutter.

Surgeons use one of two techniques to create the flap in the cornea. Traditional LASIK uses a mechanical blade, while all-laser LASIK procedures use a device called a laser keratome. A 2015 study found no statistically significant difference in the results of either technique, and both are safe and effective.

The procedure takes no more than 30 minutes and people are awake throughout the surgery. Before the procedure, a healthcare professional numbs a person’s eyes and holds their eyelids open with a speculum.

At the end of the procedure, a doctor will place a shield over the eye to protect it from irritation and pressure. People may experience burning or itching and mild discomfort or pain. While some can see very well the next day, vision can be blurry the first few days and fluctuate over the next few months.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says it can take 3 to 6 months for vision to stabilize after LASIK surgery.

According to AAO, good candidates for LASIK surgery should:

  • be 18 years of age or older (ideally over 21) – this is how the cornea stopped growing at the time of surgery
  • have an eye prescription that has not changed significantly in the past 12 months
  • have a refractive error that LASIK surgery can treat
  • have realistic expectations about the procedure and what it can accomplish
  • have thick, healthy corneas and overall good eye health

The AAO also describes which is not suitable for LASIK eye surgery. These include people:

  • unstable refractive errors that change
  • extreme myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism
  • certain eye health problems, including dry eyes, cataracts, thin corneas, glaucoma, and a history of eye infections
  • underlying health problems that a person may have difficulty managing, such as diabetes

In addition, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding cannot undergo LASIK surgery.

As with any surgery, there are risks of side effects or complications.

Side effects are usually temporary and can include:

  • eye pain or discomfort
  • blurry, hazy, or hazy vision
  • a scratchy sensation in the eyes
  • eye disorders, such as glare, halos, or star bursts
  • light sensitivity
  • blood stains on the eyeball

The AAO reports that the risks of longer or permanent side effects are low, with 95% of patients reporting a good result after surgery. A 2017 the analysis also indicated that the use of modern lasers significantly reduced unwanted side effects.

The AAO claims that complications from LASIK surgery are rare. However, the FDA says the treatment is relatively new, having been first approved in 1998. Thus, the safety and long-term effectiveness of LASIK surgery is not yet known.

Potential complications from LASIK eye surgery can include:

  • eye infections
  • corneal flap dislocation
  • vision loss that glasses, contact lenses, or other surgery can’t treat
  • permanent visual problems such as double vision or halos
  • severe dry eye syndrome, which can reduce vision

A 3-year study in 2016 examined the visual satisfaction of people who have had LASIK surgery after wearing contact lenses. They reported improved night vision while driving, no increase in dry eye syndrome, and greater satisfaction with annual follow-ups.

The same research also found that LASIK eye surgery significantly reduced the rate of side effects common in people who wear contact lenses, such as eye infections, ulcers, and abrasions.

Compared to surgery and contact lenses, reading or prescription glasses are much less likely to irritate the eyes or cause side effects. They are also a cheap and effective way to correct vision. However, a person can easily damage or lose their glasses, and they may be unsuitable for certain activities. Over a lifetime, glasses can also cost more to replace and update than a successful LASIK procedure.

Find out about the cost of the glasses.

The FDA provides advice on selecting the right doctor for a LASIK procedure, which includes consideration of:

  • Cost: Avoid choosing the cheapest option without doing extensive research. Compare several doctors and practices and find out about the level of experience of the surgeon.
  • Advertising: Don’t be fooled by chords that sound too good to be true. Reading as much as possible about the procedure will help people identify offers that make exaggerated claims or that are too cheap to be reliable or safe.
  • Expectations: According to the FDA, not everyone will have perfect vision after surgery. Some people may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses when performing certain tasks, such as driving at night or reading small print. People should be aware of this before agreeing to undergo the procedure.

LASIK eye surgery can be a quick and effective way to correct some vision problems, but not everyone can have the procedure. People who wish to undergo LASIK surgery should know the criteria that make a person suitable for this type of surgery. They should also make a careful selection of their doctor based on experience rather than cost.

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