Some people spend years researching and fretting over LASIK and PRK, the two laser vision correction (LVC) techniques, only to find that they were never a candidate in the first place. That can be a major disappointment; the only way to avoid this disappointment is by having a full and comprehensive vision correction exam.
There are several factors that could mean LVC isn’t right for you. Here are the main ones:
Overall Eye Health
Corneal thickness is a major factor. LVC surgery requires enough thickness of the cornea to maintain strength and shape. If your cornea is too thin, it may result in complications. This was a significant factor in the older microkeratome method and why some people were not considered good candidates; however advances in technology have made LASIK possible for many of these patients. PRK instead of LASIK is often recommended if the cornea is too thin for LASIK since it thins the cornea less. The only way to measure the thickness of the cornea is during a thorough eye examination by a trained eye doctor.
Keratoconus is a disease of the cornea, and if you have it, LASIK would not be right for you. People are sometimes told they have Keratoconus when they have a different condition that may not be a problem for LASIK. That’s why we always double check any previous diagnosis.
Cataracts are a clouding or opacity of the natural lens inside the eye. They don’t necessarily prevent you from having LASIK; it depends on their type and location. Again, we always check for cataracts at our vision correction exam.
Physical Illnesses or Conditions
Uncontrolled or severe Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Fibromyalgia (FMS) can indicate a compromised autoimmune system, which might complicate the healing process. Osteoarthritis or age-related arthritis is not a problem as far as LVC is concerned. If you have any questions about which type of arthritis you have, give us a call and we will help you sort it out.
Uncontrolled diabetes may rule out vision correction as an unstable blood sugar level will affect the precise measurements necessary for the procedure. Diabetes can also cause diabetic retinopathy, which may compromise vision due to changes in the retina. This too may or may not be a contraindication to vision correction. We’ll help you establish whether or not diabetes is an issue at the consultation.
Pregnancy, for some women, can cause temporary changes in their eyes. For that reason, we do not perform LVC during pregnancy as we want to make sure we are treating the person’s real prescription and not a temporary change. We can treat new mothers as soon as 6 weeks postpartum. Nursing mothers may want to wait until one month after nursing has ended to have LVC. Changes in hormone levels before then can lead to the possibility of decreased accuracy similar to the inaccuracies found in expectant mothers; however, over the years we have had some women opt for LVC while still nursing and we have not seen any negative effects.
Age and Lifestyle
A good LVC candidate is generally between the ages of 18 and 60. Many people under the age of 18 have not finished growing, so their vision may not have stabilized. Adults over age 60 are more likely to have other eye problems such as cataracts, and the treatments for those problems can often achieve many of the same results as LASIK. It should be noted that LASIK or PRK can be performed after cataract surgery on patients of any age to help eliminate the need for eyeglasses.
LVC surgery can greatly enhance your life; however, some lifestyle factors need to be taken into account, particularly after the procedure. If you regularly participate in any of these activities, or if you wish to but can’t because of your eyesight or lenses, let us know so we can help you determine if LVC is right in terms of your lifestyle:
- Swimming and water sports – One of the benefits of LVC is the freedom to go swimming and enjoy scuba-diving and water-skiing, but you will need to avoid all water sports for at least a few weeks after vision correction surgery to help prevent infection.
- Contact sports – You absolutely must cease all contact sports for at least one month after vision correction surgery. A blow to your eyes before healing is complete can cause flap complications. You may want to consider PRK if you are actively engaged in or plan to be engaged in contact sports.
Before you decide you are not a candidate due to any of the above, call us first and let us help you verify the facts.
To find out conclusively whether or not LVC is right for you, schedule your free LASIK Consultation.