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People with vision issues often turn to LASIK surgery as an alternative to glasses or contact lenses. If you want to improve your visual acuity, LASIK may be a good choice for you.
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.
LASIK is a type of refractive eye surgery. These procedures correct vision problems from refractive errors including:
Not everyone is eligible for LASIK surgery. However, most adults with mild vision problems, who wear glasses or contacts, will get better vision from LASIK surgery.
A good candidate fits the following 8 criteria:
If you have an autoimmune disease or degenerative condition that makes it harder for your body to heal, you might not qualify for LASIK. This includes, but is not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and AIDS. Some medications such as immunosuppressants may also interfere with your ability to heal from eye surgery.
Certain conditions and eye diseases can affect your eyes' ability to heal or respond to refractive eye surgery. These may include severe dry eye syndrome, cataracts, or glaucoma. If you have an eye injury, conjunctivitis (pink eye), or an infection, you'll have to wait until this condition is resolved before getting eye surgery.
If your prescription is too high, your eye doctor may advise against laser surgery. FDA-approved excimer lasers for LASIK in the United States can correct approximately:
However, each eye surgeon will have their own limits on how poor your vision can be. Most surgeons offer a free consultation to determine whether you're a good candidate or not.
Many people's prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses change as they age. In order to be a good candidate, your vision needs to remain stable for at least 12 months.
The LASIK surgery procedure removes part of your cornea. Your cornea needs to be sufficiently thick in order to achieve desired results.
If you are pregnant or nursing, you should delay the procedure. Hormonal changes can alter your cornea and vision. This may take several months to return to stable levels.
People with extra-large pupils have an increased risk of side effects, including:
LASIK surgery has a very high success rate. However, you should be fully aware of the potential side effects and complications. 99 percent of patients achieve 20/40 vision or better, but not everyone achieves perfect vision.
Be sure to pay close attention, ask questions, and address any concerns you might have at your pre-surgery consultation. Follow all instructions your surgeon gives you very carefully.
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.
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:
Other conditions to speak about with your eye doctor while considering LASIK:
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.
The average cost of LASIK surgery in the United States is approximately $2,200 per eye or $4,400 for both.
Most health insurance plans do not cover LASIK surgery. Most health insurance companies deem laser eye surgery an elective procedure — meaning not medically necessary. Neither Medicare nor Medicaid pay for elective eye surgery like LASIK surgery.
Some larger vision insurance carriers offer laser vision correction benefits, including discounts on laser vision correction procedures with specific providers and frame benefits for non-prescription sunglasses after vision correction surgery. UnitedHealthcare vision insurance offers its members 35% off LASIK at over 900 locations.
There are several alternatives to the LASIK procedure on the market, including:
The risk of complications from LASIK is very low. Less than one percent of patients experience serious complications like eye infections, detached retinas, vision loss, or chronic eye pain.
Yes, LASIK eye surgery is considered to be safe with a very low risk of complications.
Numbing eye drops are placed into both of your eyes before the procedure. Therefore, LASIK is not painful.
LASIK can last your entire life. However, some patients need to undergo LASIK more than once.
The ideal age range to get LASIK is between 19 and 40. This is when your eyes are the healthiest. If your vision is not stable enough, LASIK may not be recommended over age 40.
Are you a Candidate for LASIK? 5 Guidelines You Should Know. (2019, November 12). https://americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org/general-lasik-candidate-guidelines/.
Joy, K. (2017, December 13). Pros and Cons of LASIK: Are the Risks Worth the Cost? https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/eye-health/pros-and-cons-of-lasik-are-risks-worth-cost.
Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (n.d.). LASIK. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/surgery-devices/lasik.
Alternative Refractive Surgery Procedures. (2018, July 16). https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/refractive-surgery-alternative-procedures.