LASIK surgery is an increasingly popular method of improving your vision, since if it’s successful, it can completely negate your need for glasses or contact lenses—and permanently. Short for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, LASIK is one of several laser-assisted procedures designed to reshape your eye to improve your vision.
It’s a promising alternative to wearing glasses and contact lenses, has the potential to help you achieve perfect vision, and is relatively inexpensive. One of the only caveats is that not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK—and there are several important questions you’ll need to ask before you sign up for the procedure.
Factors to Consider
These are some of the most important considering factors when evaluating a patient for LASIK surgery:
1. Age. First, you’ll need to think about your age. The older you get, the less easily your body can heal from surgery; accordingly, it’s better to get LASIK surgery when you’re younger, up to a certain point. If you’re too young, your eyes may still be undergoing rapid changes, so LASIK surgery may do more harm than good. The generally accepted age range for LASIK surgery is 25 to 45, though the procedure can legally be done for people beyond this age range.
2. Work and lifestyle. There are some risks associated with LASIK surgery, and you’ll need to be aware of how those risks could play into your career and lifestyle. For example, LASIK surgery relies on cutting a flap in the surface of your eye. If your eye is damaged in some way after the surgery, it could tear this flap or interfere with the healing process; accordingly, if your job or lifestyle requires you to engage in heavy physical activity, LASIK may not be a good option. Some careers may also prohibit you from getting LASIK surgery if vision is important to the role. However, this tends to be rare; just make sure you talk to your employer before you get the procedure.
3. Current eyesight. LASIK is approved to treat a wide range of different optical prescriptions, but it isn’t the best option for every prescription or every eye condition. For example, if you have astigmatism, you may not be approved for LASIK surgery. If you have a refractive error that only slightly impedes your vision, LASIK may not be worth the risks. Conversely, if you have a refractive error that’s too severe, LASIK may not be enough to correct your vision. Most people fall inside these extremes, so they aren’t an issue.
4. Existing medical conditions. Several types of existing medical conditions could complicate LASIK eye surgery, many of which have to do with the eyes. For example, if you have cataracts or glaucoma, LASIK may not be able to restore your vision—or may present unnecessary risks. Autoimmune disorders or weakened immune systems may also make it harder for you to recover, so patients with these conditions may not be approved for the procedure. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions may also complicate your surgery, and should be discussed with your surgeon.
5. Personal risk tolerance. Even though the risks associated with LASIK surgery are low for people who are good candidates, they’re still worth considering. In the months that follow your procedure, you may experience aberrations in your vision, blurry vision, dry eyes, or even mild pain. You’ll need to consider whether you’re personally prepared for symptoms like these in exchange for better eyesight.
6. Personal distaste for glasses and contact lenses. It’s also important to consider your personal level of distaste for glasses and contact lenses. If you’ve never had an issue with wearing glasses or contacts, LASIK surgery may not bring you a noticeable quality of life increase, and may therefore not be worth the risks.
7. Budget. The costs of LASIK do vary, but you’ll still have to consider your budget if you’re weighing LASIK as a possible option. Typically, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per eye. This may seem like a lot, but when compared to the costs of contact lenses and glasses, it’s very reasonable; a few thousand dollars now means you’ll never have to pay for corrective lenses again.
Getting a Consultation
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re a good candidate for LASIK surgery, but you’re interested in the procedure, the best thing to do is get a consultation with a professional. Talk to a LASIK surgeon or your regular optometrist about the possibility, including what personal risks you might face and what kind of results you could expect. Together, you’ll be able to decide whether LASIK is the best option to improve your eyesight.