Virtually everyone out there has heard of LASIK, the laser vision correction procedure that can correct common vision refractive errors, like nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. This is hardly surprising, since more than 700,000 LASIK procedures are performed each year in the United States alone, and more than 40 million procedures have been performed since 1991. However, LASIK vision correction is not necessarily the right choice for every patient. In fact, about 20% of potential patients may be deemed ineligible for LASIK for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the conditions that can potentially disqualify you as a candidate for LASIK surgery, as well as a highly effective alternative procedure.
First and foremost, LASIK surgery requires that a patient’s vision correction prescription be stable, so patients with eyes that are still growing and changing are not suitable candidates. This is why we generally do not perform LASIK surgery on patients under the age of eighteen. Hormonal fluctuations can affect visual acuity as well, so women who are pregnant, nursing, or wish to become pregnant are generally advised to wait until their eyewear prescription has been stable for at least one year before undergoing LASIK surgery.
The individual anatomy of the patient’s eyes also plays an important role. Having abnormally thin corneas or corneal scarring from an eye injury or previous LASIK procedure may disqualify someone from being a good LASIK candidate. During the comprehensive medical eye exam that we routinely conduct during any LASIK consultation, Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay can precisely measure your corneal thickness using specialized instruments and determine if you are a candidate.
Finally, there are also certain lifestyle factors that may make a patient unsuitable for LASIK surgery. The procedure requires that a small flap be cut into the cornea, and although this corneal flap does heal it can potentially be dislodged by certain types of violent eye injuries. Those with occupations that place them at risk for facial injuries, like professional athletes, police officers, and those in the armed services, are potentially at a higher risk for post-operative complications. These patients, as well as patients with corneas that are too thin for LASIK, are sometimes better served by an alternative procedure called photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK surgery. Because this approach accesses the interior of the eye by gently removing a thin layer of corneal epithelium, and not by cutting a corneal flap, PRK patients have no risk of flap complications and are even less likely to experience dry eye after the procedure.
At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, we know that every patient is unique and requires a treatment plan that can be customized to their specific health requirements. During your exam and consultation, we will carefully go over your medical history, explain your options, and determine what approach is right for you. If you have any other questions about any of the procedures that we perform, or would like to schedule an appointment for an eye examination, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information about how to keep your vision healthy and sharp.