LASIK vision correction surgery is one of the most popular elective procedures performed in the U.S. Since the first procedure was performed in 1991, more than 20 million LASIK surgeries have helped people across the country improve their vision with this quick, generally painless procedure.
Do you want to be one of them?
We’ll share with you 6 characteristics of great LASIK candidates, but first, let’s talk about what LASIK actually does.
LASIK can help improve cornea-related vision problems by reshaping the cornea as much as possible.
But what does the cornea do? The cornea helps focus light to create an image on the back part of your eye (the retina). When your cornea is imperfectly shaped, it causes the visual information sent to your retina to be blurry or distorted. Some common cornea-related problems are: nearsightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism.
So let’s get started.
#1: Great LASIK candidates are at least 21 years old.
Though your vision will change over the course of your lifetime, your eyesight is especially unstable when you’re under 18. The FDA has not approved LASIK for people under 18, because of these natural fluctuations in young eyes. Generally vision stabilizes after 20.
#2: Great LASIK candidates have good overall eye health.
Good overall eye health means you have a healthy retina, eye pressure, and cornea with sufficient thickness. It also means there are no major eye disease like cataracts or glaucoma.
Dry eyes may be aggravated by LASIK, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you have chronic issues with dryness.
People with autoimmune diseases or immunodeficiency, which can affect the healing process, are generally not good candidates for LASIK.
There are other health conditions and medications that can disqualify a candidate, so it’s extremely important that you have a comprehensive eye exam with a specialist.
#3: Great LASIK candidates have a stable prescription.
A stable prescription means your glasses or contact lens prescription has not changed for at least one year, but ideally two years.
Health-related factors that can cause your prescription to fluctuate include: diabetes, dry eyes, unstable hormones, and cataracts. If you have any of these conditions, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor to ensure you have the greatest opportunity for the best results.
#4: Great LASIK candidates are not pregnant or nursing.
Pregnancy affects a woman’s body in ways you might not expect. As we mentioned in characteristic #3, unstable hormones in women who are pregnant or nursing can sometimes cause your prescription to change, making LASIK results hard to predict. Delaying LASIK services until after you have finished nursing will help ensure a favorable outcome. Again, this should be discussed with your doctor to decide the best time for LASIK.
#5: Great LASIK candidates have a common type of vision problem.
Because LASIK corrects refractive errors by reshaping the cornea, it is appropriate for people with moderate vision problems related to the cornea. Three common vision problems LASIK can help with are:
- Near-sightedness (myopia): you can see near, but far objects are blurry.
- Far-sightedness (hyperopia): you can see far, but near objects are blurry.
- Astigmatism: you have overall blurry vision due to a misshapen cornea.
#6: Great LASIK Candidates have talked with a LASIK specialist about the benefits and drawbacks.
Everyone’s eyes, expectations and lifestyle are different. Only you and your doctor together can decide whether LASIK is right for you.
One of the most important things to keep in mind with LASIK is maintaining realistic expectations about the results. While the majority of patients experience enhanced vision and reduced dependency on glasses and contacts after laser correction, having LASIK doesn’t guarantee 20/20 vision. Reduced dependency can help you improve your quality of sight and quality of life—so you can focus on what matters.
And regardless of having LASIK, everyone will experience gradual loss of near vision as they age (presbyopia). This means that if your distance vision is corrected with glasses, contacts or LASIK, typically at some time in your 40s, they will begin to need correction to see up close.