285 million Americans have been diagnosed with a vision impairment. 35% of them could fix their issue with laser eye surgery, but far too many don’t.
One fear keeping them away is that the procedures are dangerous, but the truth is that they have high success and low complication rates. Another fear is that they may not be eligible due to preexisting conditions, eye problems, or other factors.
Read on to find out if you’re a candidate for LASIK and how to decide if you should get the surgery.
How LASIK Works
LASIK is a common laser eye treatment for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It reshapes the cornea to bend light entering the eye so it focuses on the retina for improved vision.
You’ll need a thorough eye exam before getting LASIX to determine the shape and thickness of your cornea, size of your pupil, and other important measurements.
Your doctor will put numbing drops in your eyes and ask you to stare at a target light. The procedure involves 2 different lasers, one that creates a thin flap on the front of the cornea and another that reshapes the second layer of the cornea.
How your eye gets reshaped depends on what conditions you have. Farsightedness is treated by creating a steeper cornea, and nearsightedness is treated by creating a flatter cornea.
The painless procedure takes approximately 15 minutes. It may cause mild discomfort or blurred vision, but these effects should subside after a few days. Only 0.3% of patients have serious problems. 90% enjoy 20-20 vision or better, and 99% get at least 20/40.
Deciding Between LASIK or PRK Surgery
PRK or photorefractive keratectomy is another common technique for fixing vision problems. It’s similar to LASIK because they both use lasers to reshape the cornea and treat the same conditions. Knowing what sets them apart helps you choose the right one for you.
PRK removes the entire top layer of your cornea, known as the epithelium, while LASIK creates a flap in the tissues of your eye.
Both procedures require medicated eye drops, but the recovery process is different for each.
After a PRK, procedure, you’ll need to wear bandages over your eyes for at least a month. You may experience irritation and will have to wait to experience improved vision and return to normal activities like driving.
LASIK recovery takes only a few days, and you’ll notice improved vision almost immediately.
LASIK and PRK present similar risks, including eye dryness, vision changes, disturbances, distortion, or loss, and under-correction. LASIK is safe but can prevent a few extra complications. It may increase dryness by preventing tears, and the corneal flap that’s created can heal incorrectly, become infected, or cause an overproduction of tears.
Both procedures cost approximately $2,500-$5,000, but follow-up appointments after PRK can increase your total bill. LASIK is the more economical option as long as you have a qualified doctor perform it because it only requires a one-time payment.
These procedures have similar eligibility requirements, and most patients who are a candidate for one will be a candidate for the other as well. This means you can choose between the two options based on your personal preferences and recommendations from your doctor.
Determining If You’re a Candidate for LASIK
Millions of patients have conditions that could be treated with laser eye surgery, but fear isn’t the only factor stopping them from getting into the chair. They may not be eligible due to their health, age, or a range of other factors.
Only your eye doctor can determine if you’re a suitable candidate for LASIK. They’ll look into several factors including the characteristics of your eyes, your age and prescription, your medical history, and whether or not you understand the risks of the procedure.
Lens prescriptions are measured in diopters to determine their strength. One of the most important LASIK prescription requirements is that your prescription must be stable. It shouldn’t change more than 0.75 diopters in one year.
The minimum prescription for LASIK for nearsighted patients is typically between -1.00 and -12.00 diopters. The exact requirements differ based on your provider and the strength of their lasers.
The minimum age requirement for LASIK is 18 years old because your eyes have finished changing and maturing by this time. Some doctors increase the requirement to 21 years old, and most consider 25-40 the best age to get the surgery because your eyes will be in good health.
Conditions that affect your eligibility for LASIK surgery include:
- Corneal, retinal, or optic nerve diseases
- Herpes simplex or herpes zoster around the face or eyes
Other conditions that don’t disqualify you but may make the procedure more risky include:
- Strabismus, a muscle imbalance
- Keloid scarring from past surgical healing
- Back problems
- Lazy eyes
- Mental health conditions
- Chronic allergies
- Autoimmune conditions
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
If you’ve had LASIK surgery in the past and didn’t get the results you expected, doctors may be hesitant to perform it again.
Examination and Understanding the Risks
The most important step in determining if you’re a candidate for LASIK is a thorough examination from your doctor. Your average pupil size in a dark room should be at least 6 millimeters, and your cornea shouldn’t be too thin or too large. They may also disqualify you if they feel that LASIK can’t improve your vision to at least 20/40.
LASIK presents risks like any other surgery. You’ll need to prove you understand these risks before a doctor will approve you, and they may even have you sign paperwork.
Where to Get a LASIK Consultation
LASIK is one of the most popular laser eye treatments in the world. It’s a safe, effective way to treat near or farsightedness and astigmatism.
Finding out if you’re a candidate for LASIK requires looking at your medical history and taking it to a licensed eye doctor. They’ll determine how much the procedure can improve your vision and whether any conditions you have preclude you from having it.
Eye Lasik Austin offers a range of professional laser treatments to give you a better view of the world. Book a free consultation with our doctors today.