Who is Eligible for
LASIK and custom LASIK are now considered generally safe and effective treatment options for a most types of
common vision disorders. In most cases LASIK is a relatively pain-free surgical procedure albeit with varying
degrees of recuperation time. For most patients, the surgery will improve their vision (even surpassing what they
achieved with glasses or contact lenses) and lessens the dependence on glasses.
There are risks, however, and it is important that people who are considering the procedure are knowledgeable
about the pros and cons associated with LASIK. It isn't meant for everyone. In fact, all candidates for corrective
eye surgery must go through a comprehensive screening by their doctor that considers a number of important
For eye surgeons, the screening process is of paramount importance. Although a wide range of people are deemed
to be suitable candidates for LASIK, there usually are some who will not get through the screening process and will
not satisfy the basic criteria of those most able to experience a successful outcome to their surgery. Those who
are found to be inferior candidates may, in the future, have hope that there will be a new technology which will
make LASIK possible for them. For now, anyone contemplating laser eye surgery will go through a thorough evaluation
to ascertain whether or not the procedure suits their situation.
Generally the best candidates for LASIK types of vision correction have a
cornea that is the right shape and thickness giving the surgeon the best chance of creating a good flap that
can heal properly afterwards. They also have stable vision and have the same prescription glasses for at least
two years. Fluctuating vision is not optimal and laser eye surgery is not recommended until it stabilizes.
The most common types of vision deficiencies are caused by refractive error, related to irregularities on the
cornea. These conditions include: myopia or nearsightedness, astigmatism (the result of an abnormally shaped
cornea), and hyperopia or farsightedness.
It is also important (and likewise, part of the screening process) that there are no diseases present that could
complicate the procedure. This includes diseases of the eye as well as other diseases of the body which can affect
the ability to heal properly. A solid candidate will be in good health overall. There are certain conditions which
will not disqualify a person but could impact the overall effectiveness of the surgery or lengthen the time it
takes to heal. A couple of issues that doctors may need to deal with are dry eyes and scarring of the cornea.
People with dry eyes can take eye drops that will alleviate the symptoms and create a better environment for the
eyes to be operated on.
When LASIK is Absolutely Not an Option
Some specific diseases and types of conditions entirely eliminate the chance of some people from ever being able
to have LASIK surgery. This includes men and women who are afflicted by diseases like cataracts and glaucoma. These
are the most widespread and common eye ailments that disqualify people.
Since long term use of contact lenses can alter the shape and contour of the cornea, they can actually interfere
with the proper determination of a patient's actual visual acuity and correct prescription. For this reason eye
doctors will require patients to stop using contact lenses for up to three weeks before the evaluation. An accurate
assessment is the first step in a long process geared at ensuring a successful outcome after laser eye surgery.
During the eye exam phase of the screening, the eye doctor will analyze the type and magnitude of the error in
each eye. This will help in deciding whether the patient is a candidate, and if he or she is, how much correction
is needed to achieve satisfactory results.
The physical examination of the cornea will reveal the existence of any problems that might possibly have a
negative impact on the final result of the surgery. It will evaluate and assess the corneal thickness, a crucial
factor in LASIK. Doctors will check the lens for early stage cataracts which will appear as clouding. The corneal
mapping techniques used today give very specific three dimensional data about the cornea such as its curvature and
smoothness. This data is also used to figure out the best course for the surgery should it be pursued.
The glaucoma detection portion of the test will measure what's known as the intraocular pressure. Increased
pressure can indicate glaucoma or early glaucoma conditions. This disease will ultimately lead to vision loss due
to optic nerve damage resulting from increased pressure in the eye. Unfortunately, diseases such as glaucoma and
macular degeneration are very common in the elderly and, when not treated properly, can lead to significant vision
impairment or even blindness.
Setting the Proper Expectations for LASIK Patients
Although surveys indicate that most people who have had LASIK surgery are usually pleased with the outcome there
are some who will have a less positive experience. Instead of benefiting from noticeably improved vision after the
normal healing period, some patients will be affected by one or more of the well documented complications that can
occur. Anyone considering laser eye surgery needs to be thoroughly aware of the pros and cons so that they have had
a chance to consider the facts and make their decision.
Those with properly set expectations understand that the goal is not to achieve perfect vision. The goal is to
improve vision to the extent that there is a reduced need for prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. A common
outcome for individuals with mild nearsightedness is to achieve 20/40 vision. In a smaller percentage of cases,
patients may even get to 20/20 vision.
As always people considering LASIK or any other type of refractive eye surgery need to rely on the advice of
their eye doctor. Nothing that you read on the internet is meant to be substituted for professional medical advice.
The decision whether to proceed with surgery should never be taken lightly. Without exception it should be based
upon the patient's unique situation guided by consultation with an eye doctor.