So, you’ve found yourself sick of grabbing your glasses, your contacts are driving you crazy, and you’re looking for an end to the seemingly infinite cycle of eye doctor appointments. As cliché as it might sound, I assure you, you’re not alone, and there is an answer that may potentially free you; LASIK. As an eye specialist, I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the familiar sounds of, “What is it?” “How does it work?” and “Will it work for me?” echoed through my office. My answer is always the same: LASIK is a surgical procedure that reshapes the cornea of your eye to improve your vision, but the procedure is not for everyone. So, how can you tell if LASIK is even an option for you? Obviously, we can’t just perform the procedure on everyone and take a tally of who can see better versus who can’t, so how do we find out beforehand? I’d like to talk about this today so that you, dear readers, can answer for yourself, “Is LASIK right for me?”
What Is LASIK?
As I mentioned earlier, Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, better known as LASIK, is a surgical procedure wherein the cornea of the eye is reshaped to better redirect light and improve vision. It begins with a regimen of measurements and eye health evaluations, which your doctor will use to plan your procedure. You will be offered a mild sedative, which is purely optional, before being taken to the laser suite. The procedure starts with some numbing eye drops to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure. You will be asked to simply focus your vision on a blinking, colored light.
The procedure consists of two separate lasers designed to do very specific jobs during your procedure. The first laser is used to make a small incision in the eye to create a thin flap of tissue. This flap is folded back to reveal the cornea underneath, allowing the second precision laser to pulse and reshape the area. Once the reshaping is complete, the tissue flap is returned to its original position, and you are done. In less than ten minutes, your vision is restored and most are able to read the road signs while someone drives them home.
8 Factors to Consider
Like any surgical procedure, there are a number of factors that can alter its viability and effectiveness. Some of these factors are of small concern, while others are enough to affect your candidacy altogether.
1. Stability. Like the rest of our body, our eyes change over time, and the rate at which they change will affect whether LASIK can work for you. While changes to your vision are typically minimal, ideally, your prescription should remain constant for at least a year to be considered stable.
2. Your Age. No one’s body changes quite like a teenager’s, and the same goes for their eyes. As much as some of the younger generations may want to get rid of their glasses, performing LASIK before age 18 consistently delivers less than stellar results, as the ongoing bodily changes are too drastic for LASIK to accommodate.
3. Dry Eyes. Eye dryness is a common side effect of LASIK and will compound with an already present case. The extremity of this changes from person to person, making it difficult to say whether it will affect your candidacy. As such, this should be evaluated in person by a specialist who may recommend a different vision correction procedure.
4. -10 Diopter Limit. LASIK can only correct so much; anything beyond a -10 prescription isn’t guaranteed. Additionally, more severe prescriptions are typically accompanied by thin corneas, increasing the overall risk of the procedure. Again, this changes from person to person and should be evaluated in person by a specialist, but other procedures may be a more viable choice.
5. Pre-existing Conditions. Healthy eyes make for successful surgeries, so any chronic illnesses must be considered. Diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and keratoconus (the thinning and bulging of the cornea) are all conditions that can pose serious problems during the LASIK procedure.
6. Pregnancy. Having LASIK done before you’re expecting is fine, but during pregnancy or while nursing can pose some concerns to the health of your child. The medications given to LASIK patients, even the eye drops, can be passed on to the baby and cause a number of side effects. Additionally, hormonal changes during pregnancy tend to result in dry eyes, which, as mentioned earlier, will compound with what will likely come with surgery.
7. Cost. Many patients ask about different parts of the procedure, results, and what side effects to expect, but few consider just how much LASIK might cost them. Most insurance plans consider LASIK and other laser refractive surgeries non-essential and won’t cover the cost. If this is the case for you, Magruder Laser Vision offers several financing options to help you through.
8. Expectations. Remember that no surgery is magic and that there are always some limitations. LASIK has proven to be an effective tool and continues to pull reports of satisfaction, but it’s important to continue with regular checkups to ensure that your results remain consistent.
Is LASIK Right For You?
At the end of the day, whether LASIK is right for you depends on a variety of factors. It’s important to book a consultation with one of our eye specialists, who can evaluate your individual circumstances and determine if this procedure is viable for you. All that being said, I’m a firm believer in taking control of your vision and investing in yourself when it makes sense – so don’t be afraid to take the plunge! With proper care and attention before and after surgery, there’s no telling how far improved vision will take you!