Who is a good candidate for LASIK?
Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is a refractive eye surgery that corrects vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. The procedure uses modern laser technology to permanently reshape the cornea. Successful LASIK procedures reduce, and often eliminate, the need for glasses and contact lenses. However, this procedure is not advised in all cases. The first step in deciding whether to have LASIK surgery is to determine if you are a good candidate. This will be done at your consultation with your surgeon.
What are the criteria to being a good LASIK candidate?
- Age: While there is no strict age limit to having LASIK surgery, generally patients should be over 18 years old so that the eyes have reached their full maturity. Typically the vision should be stable (no significant change in the glasses or contact lens prescription) for about 1 year.
- Eye health: Your surgeon will screen you for diseases of the eye, such as cataract, keratoconus, or glaucoma before recommending LASIK surgery. Chronic dry eye may be a condition that eliminates LASIK surgery in some patients. However, if dryness is due to contact lens overwear, refractive eye surgery may still be an option.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the body produces high levels of hormones that may affect your eyes and vision. In particular, the shape of the cornea can be altered by these hormones, making it difficult to determine the amount of reshaping that is needed to correct the vision. It’s advisable to wait at least 3 months after being pregnant to consider LASIK surgery.
- Individual eye shape: This is the main focus of your LASIK consultation. During the evaluation, your surgeon will check your refractive error (glasses prescription), analyze the eye’s ability to focus, measure the corneal shape, curvature and thickness, and assess the tear film composition and volume. It is critical that your eye shape can safely support the necessary corneal sculpting to correct your vision.
With the latest advances in precision in femtosecond laser flap creation and corneal sparing sculpting, the range of patients who qualify for LASIK is much higher than in decades past. Excimer lasers that are used to correct vision are FDA-approved for prescriptions of up to +6.00 diopters of farsightedness, -12 diopters or nearsightedness, and 6.00 diopters of astigmatism. However, not every patient within this range will qualify for surgery. By analyzing the shape and contour of your cornea, your physician will be able to assess if your eye can safely be sculpted to fully correct your vision.