Millions of Americans suffer from vision-related issues and conditions. While not typically a serious threat to an individual’s overall health and well-being, vision problems can be frustrating. For many, a procedure like LASIK eye surgery is a good remedy.
What is LASIK Surgery?
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is the most commonly used form of laser refractive surgery in the industry. It uses a specially designed cutting laser to precisely reshape the cornea to improve vision.
“Normally, images are clearly focused on the retina in the back of your eye because the light rays are bent properly to contact the retinal surface. With nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, the light is bent incorrectly and it ends up being focused elsewhere, resulting in blurred vision,” Mayo Clinic explains. “Traditionally, the blurred vision is corrected by bending (refracting) light rays with glasses or contact lenses. But reshaping the cornea itself also will provide the necessary refraction.”
LASIK is quick, safe, and cost-effective. It provides nearly instantaneous results and, according to Mayo Clinic, allows 8 out of 10 patients to live life without the need for glasses or contact lenses for most of their activities.
5 Signs You’re a Candidate
LASIK isn’t right for everyone, but it does help hundreds of thousands of people improve their eyesight each year. Here are some signs you may be a good candidate:
1. You’re Tired of Corrective Lenses
Are you tired of wearing glasses or contacts? Do your corrective lenses make it difficult for you to comfortably perform work-related tasks, exercise, or participate in hobbies? If so, LASIK could provide you with the sort of freedom you’re seeking. As previously mentioned, most people no longer need corrective lenses after the procedure is complete.
2. You’re Between 25 and 45 Years Old
“The optimal age range for LASIK surgery is 25 to 45 – before age 25 and after age 45, most people’s eyes are undergoing natural changes, and it’s harder for surgeons to correct your vision in a way that anticipates these changes,” Swagel Wootton Eye Institute explains. “While the FDA has approved LASIK for patients 18 and older (there’s no upper age limit), your doctor will consider factors related to your age before recommending this surgery to you.”
If you’re younger than 25 or older than 45, you aren’t disqualified from LASIK. However, your doctor will want to verify some specific factors to ensure you’re still a good candidate.
3. Your Vision is Stable
The biggest concern with LASIK is vision stability. A good eye doctor won’t perform LASIK on someone whose vision prescription is in the process of changing. This could lead to inadequate treatment and unintended side effects.
If you’ve had the same prescription for 6-12 months, your vision is typically considered stable. The longer you’ve had the same prescription, the better.
4. You’re Healthy
Certain medical conditions, illnesses, and diseases can limit the efficacy of LASIK or introduce significant risks into the equation. But if your overall health is good, there are very few serious risks. In fact, you probably face more risk not having the procedure.
5. You Can Afford the Procedure
In most cases, insurance companies consider laser eye surgery to be an elective procedure. As a result, they won’t cover the cost. Thankfully, it’s not outrageously expensive. If you have the means to pay for the procedure out of pocket, cost shouldn’t be a significant barrier to access.
Consider the Pros and Cons
The benefits of LASIK are compelling, but as with any medical procedure, there are always certain risks. Side effects, if present, tend to subside within a few days. However, there’s always the potential for dry eyes, glare/halos, undercorrections, overcorrections, astigmatism, flap problems, and vision loss or changes.
If you have certain health conditions like autoimmune disorders, a weakened immune system, persistent dry eyes, unstable vision, or keratitis, you’ll want to speak with your doctor to learn more about how LASIK could affect you. If you have keratoconus, severe nearsightedness, large pupils, thin corneas, or presbyopia, you may not be a good candidate.
A LASIK procedure isn’t something to be rushed. It can make a big difference in your vision, but it’s smart to talk through all of the pros, cons, benefits, and risks with your healthcare team before making a final decision!