LASIK is the most popular refractive surgery performed in the United States. It’s fast, easy, and can change the way you see the world. Have you ever thought about LASIK eye surgery and didn’t know where to start? Well, here are some helpful questions and answers that will hopefully set you on the path to a clear view of LASIK and better vision.
1. Am I too young for LASIK? Too old for LASIK?
The most common age for LASIK falls between the ages of 20 and 40. While LASIK has been performed on children with severe vision problems, most providers will not perform LASIK on those under the FDA approved age of 18. This is mostly due to the fact that our eyes are still developing and tend to keep changing into adulthood. It is recommended by providers to wait until your mid-20’s when your eye prescription becomes more stable. Having a stable prescription for 2 years is often a requirement to be considered a good Lasik candidate. As we age, our risk of other vision-related changes can become disqualifying factors for Lasik. While LASIK is an effective way to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism at any adult age, common age-related vision problems such as presbyopia, macular degeneration, and cataracts or glaucoma will prevent effective LASIK procedures. Age can certainly influence your LASIK candidacy, but it is not by any means the deciding factor. People in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and beyond have experienced successful LASIK surgery. The overall health and current condition of your eyes will determine your candidacy.
2. Why is LASIK not covered by insurance?
The short answer is because LASIK is almost always considered to be an elective or cosmetic surgery. Although there may be insurance based discounts you qualify for, they may not be easy to obtain. You will have to prove that your LASIK eye surgery is a matter for your health. Military service members, police, and firefighters who meet certain vision requirements can sometimes get LASIK covered. Along with certain medical conditions like contact lens intolerance, severe dry eyes, or allergies might qualify you for insurance covered LASIK. Ultimately it is up to your insurance provider to deem Lasik surgery a medical necessity.
3. How does LASIK work?
Once it has been determined by you and your doctor that LASIK eye surgery will work for you, the procedure itself is rather quick and virtually painless. At the beginning of the procedure, your doctor will apply anesthetic eye drops that will numb your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes. Your doctor will then make an incision (with an advanced laser) to create a thin flap on your cornea and that flap is lifted up to allow access to the eye’s corneal tissue underneath. Your doctor will then use another advanced laser to correct and reshape the curvature of your cornea by removing cells according to your unique prescription. This results in permanently corrected vision that will last for years to come. Once the cornea is reshaped, the lifted flap is placed back into position on the eye and the procedure is completed. Soreness and irritation may be present, but typically full vision returns within 24-48 hours.
4. How many times will I need LASIK eye surgery performed in my lifetime?
In most cases, only a single LASIK eye surgery will be necessary. The changes made to your cornea during the procedure are permanent. What does happen though, is we continue to age. Just like with corrective lens and eye glasses, our prescription may slowly change over time. Our myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) may continue to advance. With that in mind it is possible to repeat LASIK surgery after having gone through the evaluation process again to ensure you are still a good candidate for the procedure.
5. Will LASIK surgery hurt?
Overall the entire procedure is generally painless. The anesthetic eye drops will make your eyes almost completely numb, much like the effects of novocaine at a dentist. Patients have expressed feeling pressure on the eye during the laser treatment portion of the procedure but even that only lasts around 30 to 60 seconds, so any discomfort will be minimal. Several hours after your LASIK surgery, you may experience temporary discomfort and an itching sensation in your eyes. Also, immediately following the procedure, it is common to experience blurred and hazy vision but this is temporary and should clear up quickly as the healing process for the cornea is fast and begins as soon as the procedure has ended.
6. Is there a bad time for LASIK surgery?
While LASIK eye surgery has made great strides in the 20 plus years it has been available and most patients achieve 20/20 vision after LASIK eye surgery, there are still times when LASIK is just not a viable option. As we mentioned above, when your eyes are still changing and developing or if you have a persistent or untreated eye condition. These conditions could include dry eye syndrome, large pupil size, thin corneas, keratoconus, and even a severe degree of refractive error; e.g. Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness), and Astigmatism could prevent LASIK surgery from being an effective avenue for vision correction.
Pregnancy could also prevent you from seeking LASIK surgery because of hormonal imbalances. Many pregnant women experience changes in their vision such as a reduction in visual sharpness and blurriness for far away vision.
All of this and more should be discussed with your doctor during your pre-screening consultation to determine if you are a good candidate for LASIK surgery.
7. What can LASIK not correct?
LASIK eye surgery can have remarkable effects on people suffering from refractive vision problems like Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness), and Astigmatism. But there are several ailments that LASIK is not intended to treat. Eye conditions and disease such as Presbyopia; a gradual worsening of close-up vision (part of natural aging), Cataracts; a build-up of protein that clouds the eye’s lens, and Glaucoma; a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve cannot be aided through LASIK eye surgery and can even prevent LASIK from helping with other vision-related problems.
Learn more today
There is much to think about when considering LASIK eye surgery. But ultimately it is your doctor who can help you get the straight-forward information and personal consultation you need to find out if you would make a great candidate for LASIK. If you’re ready to take that step and would like to set up a consultation, please call or contact one of our locations today!