Should I Get LASIK? Questions and Concerns

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Should I Get LASIK?

People with vision issues often turn to LASIK surgery as an alternative or substitute for wearing glasses or contacts daily. If you routinely lose your glasses or spend too much money on contact lens solution, LASIK may be a good option for you.

diagram showing six steps of lasik eye surgery

LASIK is among the most popular choices for laser vision correction. LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, and it is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea with an excimer laser.

Good candidates for LASIK are: 

  • In good general health
  • Have good eye health and vision that falls within a specific prescription limit
  • At least 18 years old
  • Not pregnant or nursing
  • Not planning to become pregnant in the six months after LASIK surgery 

LASIK is one of several different refractive surgeries, which are procedures to correct issues with the eye’s parts that refract light. There are a few refractive errors:

  • Presbyopia, or age-related vision changes, including farsightedness
  • Myopia, or nearsightedness, which makes objects that are far away difficult to see and read
  • Hyperopia or farsightedness makes objects that are far away easier to see than closer objects
  • Astigmatism, an imperfection in the curvature of the eye’s cornea 
graphic comparing normal vision, myopia refractive error, and hyperopia refractive error

Pros and Cons of LASIK

Like any laser refractive surgery or surgery in general, LASIK comes with its own set of pros and cons that anybody considering the procedure should keep in mind. 

Pros:

  • The surgery is quick, taking only 20 minutes, on average. LASIK is also safe. The FDA has approved a number of LASIK lasers
  • The results are fast. Patients will notice a difference in as short as a few hours
  • Live life without the need for glasses and contacts and enjoy a convenient eye care routine that is much less time-consuming 
  • Enjoy clear vision from the time you wake up until you go to bed

Cons:

  • LASIK is not for everybody. For example, many people over age 40 are deemed as not good candidates for the surgery. Older patients who have presbyopia can still receive LASIK, but they either need reading glasses after surgery or can elect monovision LASIK. 
  • LASIK may cause dry eyes for up to three months in some patients 
  • Nighttime glare or halos
  • The flaps that get created during LASIK can be injured and dislodged during healing
  • The chances are slim, but you may need LASIK more than once

Who Should Not Get LASIK?

Unfortunately, some people are not good candidates for LASIK and should forgo the procedure altogether. You should not get LASIK if one or more of the following statements apply to you:

  • You have cataracts, diabetes, or another autoimmune disease which can prevent proper healing after surgery
  • You’re on certain medications, including corticosteroids and certain acne medications
  • You are pregnant
  • LASIK will jeopardize your career. Some jobs don’t allow certain refractive procedures. It’s essential to check with your employer before you undergo any procedure
  • You had to change your contact lens or glasses prescription within the last year, also known as refractive instability
  • You are a boxer, wrestler, or participate in other contact sports where blows to the face and eyes are common
  • You are not at least 18
  • You have large pupils, which can cause symptoms including glare, halos, double vision, and starbursts after surgery
  • You suffer from chronic dry eyes. LASIK can aggravate this condition
  • People with keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea’s tissue bulges outward

Other conditions to speak about with your eye doctor while considering LASIK:

  • You have blepharitis, inflammation of the eyelids that includes crusting eyelashes that can increase the risk of corneal infection or inflammation after the procedure. 
  • You have thin corneas. Since LASIK is a refractive procedure that reshapes the cornea, if the cornea is too thin, it can become damaged during surgery and lead to blinding complications.
  • You have glaucoma. You must ensure your glaucoma is properly controlled before receiving LASIK surgery.

As always, it’s important to consult with your ophthalmologist before embarking on any surgical procedure. Some of LASIK’s side effects that you may want to discuss with your ophthalmologist when talking about your candidacy for LASIK eye surgery include dry eyes, problems with night vision, and regression. These side effects typically last for a month or two after the procedure, but about 20 percent of LASIK patients continue to have symptoms long-term.

Alternative Vision Correction Options

There are several alternatives to the LASIK procedure on the market, including: 

  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Like LASIK, PRK adjusts the cornea’s shape to improve vision. PRK can treat myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. PRK is actually considered a better laser eye surgery than LASIK for people with active lifestyles. There is no cutting a flap of the cornea during PRK, reducing the healing time and risk of post-procedure accidents. 
  • Glasses and contact lenses. The more traditional approach to vision problems is to get a prescription for glasses and/or contact lenses. While people have been doing this for decades, they often get tired of keeping up with their eyeglasses and contacts and turn to more modern approaches, like LASIK, to fix their vision.
  • Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery. During this process, an eye surgeon will remove the eye’s natural lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens. This procedure corrects farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism.

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