LASIK EvaluationsLASIK can treat severe degrees of nearsightedness, moderate amounts of farsightedness and astigmatism, but LASIK is not right for everyone. While the goal of LASIK surgery is to reduce dependency on glasses or contact lenses, having LASIK cannot guarantee 20/20 vision. Fortunately, most cases are successful in improving visual acuity (or sharpness).
What Happens at a LASIK Eye Surgery Consultation?The first step in having laser eye surgery is not, sadly, picking out non-prescription sunglasses. It’s scheduling an evaluation, also called a consultation, during which one of the EyeWish Optometry trained eye doctors evaluates your candidacy for laser eye surgery, such as LASIK. After a thorough discussion and a non-invasive eye exam, the doctor will be able to determine if laser eye surgery is right for you. She can then recommend the best procedure, such as LASIK or PRK, based on your eye exam results.
What to do before your laser eye surgery consultationYour doctor, or someone at the vision center you choose, will likely tell you to stop using contact lenses in the days or weeks leading up to your evaluation. Contact lenses distort the shape of the cornea, and your doctor will want your cornea to have returned to its natural shape by the day of your laser eye surgery consultation.
What your provider does at your laser eye surgery consultationOn that day, you and the consulting doctor will go to a private room where he or she will ask about your use of eye glasses and contacts, the reasons you want LASIK, and your expectations after the procedure is performed. Some patients hope laser eye surgery will leave them totally independent from eye glasses and contacts, but this isn’t realistic. Most adults will need reading glasses by a certain age, for instance.
Good laser eye surgery candidates have realistic goals for laser eye surgery, such as reducing the need for eye glasses and contact lenses or enjoying a more active lifestyle. Patients with unrealistic expectations are not good candidates.
Your consulting doctor will also want to know about your health history. General health conditions, such as diabetes or an autoimmune disease, and ocular health conditions, such as dry eyes or ocular herpes, can affect whether or not you are a candidate for laser eye surgery and how you will recover after the procedure.
Some medications, such as common migraine pills, can also affect healing. These and other lifestyle factors—including playing contact sports or consuming alcohol and drugs—can also influence candidacy. Your doctor might ask about any of these things to better understand your candidacy for laser eye surgery.
The comprehensive laser eye surgery examA typical laser eye surgery consultation continues with a very comprehensive eye exam. This exam will include tests you might recognize, such as pupil dilation and prescription measurement. But the doctor will also use some tests that are specific to the world of laser vision correction. She will measure your cornea in detail, including its thickness, curvature and topography. She might perform a tear-film test to check for dry eyes. Each test will be explained before it is performed, and all of them are painless.
What you learn at the laser eye surgery consultationOnce the eye exam is finished, you and your eye doctor will discuss the results and your candidacy for laser eye surgery. Patients who are good candidates for eye surgery will get a chance to ask questions about the procedure the doctor believes is best for their eyes. LASIK and PRK are the two most commonly recommended laser vision correction procedures.
In general to be eligible for LASIK surgery, potential candidates must meet the following criteria:
- Age: Candidates must be at least 18 years old.
- General health: LASIK candidates must be in good general health, and should not have certain health problems, including uncontrolled diabetes, autoimmune or collagen vascular disease, or take any medication or have any condition that compromises the immune response.
- Eye health: Candidates should be free of eye diseases including keratoconus, glaucoma, cataracts, corneal disease and certain retinal and optic nerve diseases. LASIK surgery candidates should not have certain eye conditions including herpes simplex and herpes zoster.
- Eye problems: LASIK patients should make their eye doctor aware of certain eye problems including amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (muscle imbalance), or any recurrent, residual or active eye conditions that may influence healing. Other conditions that should be discussed with the doctor include keloid scarring with previous surgical healing, back problems and claustrophobia. Please make your eye doctor aware of any mental health conditions, as these may also affect your LASIK surgery or recovery.
- Eye injury: Patients should not have any eye infections or injury.
- Nursing/pregnancy: Candidates should not be nursing or pregnant when undergoing the LASIK procedure. Hormones may affect the stability of your prescription, so pregnant or nursing women are not eligible to pursue LASIK surgery until three menstrual cycles after nursing has been discontinued.
- Dry eye condition: Patients should not continuously suffer from dry eyes.
- Stable vision: Candidates’ vision must be stable for at least two years prior to the procedure date.
- Contacts: Prior to your LASIK surgery consultation and LASIK procedure, you must not wear contact lenses for a certain length of time. The precise length will be determined by your doctor on an individual basis. This ensures corneal stability and accurate assessment of your prescription prior to the LASIK surgery procedure.
- Corneal thickness plays an important role in determining proper candidacy for LASIK. Due to the nature of the procedure, candidates must have a minimum corneal thickness of approximately 0.5 mm.
The Dangers of Wearing Contact Lenses before Having LASIKWhen considering LASIK surgery, or any other kind of laser vision correction procedure, it’s important to understand how the everyday use of contact lenses can affect the procedure:
- Long-term wear: Continued long-term wear of contacts can alter the shape of your corneas, creating an inaccurate measurement of the shape of your cornea and wavefront scan of your visual system. You should discontinue use of contact lenses for a period before surgery to allow your corneas to go back to their original shape.
- The Custom process: When undergoing Custom LASIK surgery, we map your eyes for the procedure. If your eyes are measured for your LASIK procedure before they have returned to their natural shape, the laser programming will not reflect your true visual state.
- Open communication: It is important to advise your optometrist/ophthalmologist about the length of time you have been using contact lenses and what type of contact lenses you are currently using.