As the most popular corrective procedure performed in the U.S., LASIK has helped more than 18 million Americans see clearly. Due to its’ popularity, it is easy to see why many myopic, astigmatic and hyperopic Americans assume they too can have the procedure. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some. There is a long list of considerations that must be made prior to a surgeon green lighting a patient for LASIK, or even PRK. Here are a few of the most important:
Every eye is different. The average corneal thickness of a human eye is 560 microns. This equates to just more than half a millimeter. During LASIK, a laser reshapes the cornea so that light enters the eye and lands on the retina creating a clear image. There is a certain level of corneal tissue that must remain in order for it to remain stable and rigid.
Corneal thickness is performed using a pachymeter. If you have a thin cornea and a high prescription, you may not be a good candidate for LASIK due to the amount of tissue that would be removed during the procedure. However, there are other options your surgeon may recommend such as PRK, where no flap is created leaving more tissue intact.
There are several eye conditions that may be contraindications to having LASIK. The first is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure within the eye is too high. During the LASIK procedure, the pressure inside the eye is elevated. Some glaucoma patients may be poor candidates for LASIK if they have had extensive damage inside the eye from high pressure.
Cataracts may be a contraindication depending on their severity. A cataract is the clouding of the lens, which is located behind the cornea. As we age, cataracts progressively become worse until removal of the lens is required.
Diabetes, specifically type 1, may be a contraindication for having LASIK. The irregularity of blood sugars can affect the way a person heals, which can lead to a poor LASIK outcome. It is important for patients with diabetes to have their blood sugars well controlled and have no damage to the retina.
Dry eye is a common condition many American’s experience. After LASIK, it is important that eyes stay well hydrated to help with the healing process. If you suffer from dry eyes, your healing may be compromised. The good news is that there are some things that can be done to help improve your tear production. The most commonly prescribed are punctual plugs, which, when inserted, help tears stay on the eye longer. Your doctor may also recommend you use artificial tears to aid the healing process. Artificial tears should be used very frequently to be the most effective. In fact, all Raleigh Eye Center patients are instructed to use artificial tears during the first week after LASIK.
There are several health conditions that can disqualify you from having LASIK. Some are auto-immune diseases such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Keloids, a condition in which a patient over-scars, is also considered a contraindication.
When a surgeon mentions prescription stability, they are referring to how much your eyes are changing. To be considered stable, your prescription should not change more than a half a diopter in one year. It is pointless to undergo LASIK if your eyes are still changing, as you will most likely require more surgery. It is important to be patient and wait until they settle in, then give us a call. You should also be at least 18 years old.
Candidacy for LASIK is entirely dependent on the surgeon who will be performing the procedures experience. It is the job of a LASIK surgeon to take into consideration your entire situation to ensure a good result is achieved. The items listed above are not exhaustive. The best way to determine if you are a candidate for LASIK is by having a consultation with the surgeon who will be performing the procedure. A consultation involves an in-depth series of tests to help the surgeon better understand your unique needs. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation, call Raleigh Eye Center today at (919) 876-2427 or visit them online at www.raleigheyecenterlasik.com.