Diabetes and LASIK: Safety Concerns

When undergoing a surgical procedure, the potential for complications can make many patients nervous. Patients with diabetes might wonder whether there should be special cause for concern. If you are diabetic and considering LASIK, it is important to know that nearly half of diabetic patients who undergo LASIK surgery suffer from complications. This is much greater than the statistic for the average LASIK patient, who has less than a ten percent risk of complications.

Part of this stems from the increased risk diabetic patients face with surgical procedures in general. Diabetics have a higher occurrence of surgical-site infections and blood sugar spikes, and they may be susceptible to electrolyte imbalances and disorders such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis. They also have a longer recovery time because diabetes slows the wound-healing process. This is all in addition to the normal risks one faces when battling diabetes or having surgery.

Diabetes also poses a significant risk to a patient’s vision. Changes in blood-glucose levels have been shown to cause vision problems, ranging from short term to permanent. Diabetic patients are often in need of more frequent eye exams and may find themselves needing new prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses. While a LASIK procedure might seem like an easy solution, patients who have difficulty keeping their glucose levels consistent may continue to have vision troubles even after surgical vision correction.

When glucose levels are poorly controlled, some patients may run the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which is when the blood vessels of the retina begin leaking into the retinal tissue. It most often produces specks of blood in the eye which cloud and blur vision, but if left untreated, it can cause permanent blindness. Because the symptoms may come and go, a diabetic patient might not realize that he or she has diabetic retinopathy. He or she might not be aware that it is a complication of diabetes, or that it can be diagnosed and treated with routine eye examinations. Patents who suffer from diabetic retinopathy have an increased risk of permanent retina damage if they undergo LASIK surgery.

Keeping all of these risks in mind, it is understandable why many LASIK surgeons hesitate to perform the procedure on diabetic patients. However, this does not mean that a patient with diabetes is automatically disqualified form consideration for LASIK. It simply means that he or she will have to go through a more extensive screening process in order to find out if LASIK is an option. Many diabetics who have no pre-existing complications and keep their blood-glucose levels stable are found to be suitable LASIK candidates.

Raleigh Eye Center knows that vision is very important to all of our patients. If you have diabetes, you should be mindful of your vision and take especially good care of your eyes. Our team of specialists is trained to diagnose and treat many conditions caused by diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy. They can work alongside your personal physician or endocrinologist to create a treatment plan that will lead to happier, healthier eyes.

As with all of our patients, we are committed to providing our LASIK candidates with the highest quality care. Diabetics who are interesting in LASIK surgery should sit down with Dr. Kiley and express their concerns before moving forward.