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How Bad Can Your Vision Be For LASIK?
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is laser eye surgery that corrects vision. It is a common procedure for people who wear glasses or contact lenses.
Not all people who have vision problems should undergo LASIK surgery.
There are specific qualifications you must meet, including:
- Up to -12.0 diopters of nearsightedness
- Up to 6.0 diopters of astigmatism
- Up to +6.0 diopters of farsightedness
- If diopters are not lessened by more than 0.5 within one year of the procedure
What are Refractive Errors and Diopters?
Before considering LASIK surgery, it’s essential to understand the following:
Refractive errors or vision problems occur when the cornea and lens do not bend light correctly. This means the cornea and/or the lens are irregular in shape
Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia are all refractive errors
Nearsightedness is clear and distinct vision of near objects
Farsightedness is clear and distinct vision of far objects
Astigmatism can cause objects to appear blurry, regardless of their distance
Presbyopia is an age-related refractive error that causes gradual loss of close up vision
A diopter is a unit used to indicate the strength of your lens
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Other LASIK Requirements
Aside from the qualifications mentioned above, you should also consider other factors before undergoing laser eye treatment. These include:
1. Eye Health
Your eyes must be healthy before undergoing LASIK surgery. For example, eye infections and chronic dry eyes need to be corrected before the procedure. LASIK is not an option if you have a degenerative eye disease.
2. Physical Health
During LASIK surgery, the doctor will make an incision into one or both eyes. Your body needs to be in good health to endure this process and heal properly.
You have to be 18 years or older to undergo LASIK. However, optometrists and ophthalmologists usually recommend waiting until your mid-20s (or older).
Vision prescriptions typically change and evolve in your younger years. Waiting until you are at least 25 will make LASIK surgery more effective.
4. Vision Stability
You must have a vision prescription that has not changed over the last 12 months. LASIK will only correct your current eye prescription. If your vision prescription is not stable and continues to change, the procedure will be less effective.
5. Corneal Thickness
Because LASIK reshapes the cornea, it must be thick enough to sculpt. LASIK is only safe for corneas that are thick enough to be functional again after the surgery.
The average corneal thickness is between 540 µm to 560 µm. Corneas thinner than 540µm may not be suitable for LASIK surgery.
Who Shouldn’t Get LASIK?
Some people should not undergo LASIK surgery. These are people who:
Are Under 18 Years Old
Vision often changes during adolescence, so anyone under 18 is typically not a good candidate for LASIK. Their vision will likely change again after surgery.
Are Pregnant or Nursing
Hormone fluctuations can cause vision changes. Also, medications administered during LASIK might harm the fetus, so it’s not considered a safe surgery if you’re pregnant.
Take Certain Prescription Drugs
Certain prescription drugs, such as steroids, can interfere with LASIK results. Talk to your eye doctor about any prescription medications you are taking beforehand.
Have Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is another eye problem that’s not safe to mix with LASIK surgery. It increases the risk for post-LASIK discomfort and may worsen the condition.
Have Certain Health Conditions
People with the following conditions should not undergo LASIK:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Eye injuries or infections, which can leave corneal scarring
Have Large Pupils
Pupil dilation should only reach 6 mm. But if your pupil dilates 7 to 8 mm in the dark, this might have a negative effect on your vision if you pursue LASIK.
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How to Find Out if You’re a Candidate for LASIK
Ideally, a good LASIK candidate should have:
- Healthy eyes
- Stable vision
- Enough corneal thickness
- Pupil size that is not too large
- A prescription that is within limits
- Good health
What to Expect During a LASIK Consultation
You can expect a comprehensive eye exam when you schedule a LASIK consultation. Your doctor will assess whether or not you are a good candidate for the surgery.
During the eye exam, your doctor will:
- Determine your prescription
- Evaluate your eye health
- Examine the interior of your eyes
- Get the exact measurement of the refractive error
- Other measurements as needed
Other Vision Correction Options
There are other treatment options available, such as:
- Prescription eyeglasses
- Contact lenses
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
- SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction)
- Phakic intraocular lenses (IOLs), or, surgically implanted lenses
- Refractive lens exchange (RLE)
Consult your eye doctor or surgeon to determine the best vision correction option for you. Ask questions like:
- What are the risks involved with refractive surgery?
- What are the pros and cons of the surgery?
- Is vision correction surgery necessary?
- What are the effects of refractive eye surgery?
- Will it give me perfect vision?
- Will surgery mean I won’t have to wear glasses and/or contacts?
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