8 Ways to Know if you’re a Candidate for LASIK or another type of Vision Correction Procedure
Have you ever lost a contact lens to the drain of your bathroom sink? Or had to wipe fog off the lenses on your glasses after taking a sip of piping hot coffee? If you’ve worn glasses or contact lenses, then we’d bet that these have probably happened to you before. So if this sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably got a good idea of just how frustrating wearing either glasses or contacts can be.
For these reasons—and many other ones—people are turning to laser vision correction procedures to help treat their eyesight. But before you take this leap to correct your vision, you first need to find out what qualities your surgeon will look at to determine whether or not a vision correction procedure is right for you.
Not sure if you’re old enough for LASIK? Want to know if a vision correction procedure can treat your specific eye condition? You’ve landed on the right blog post! Often, we’ve heard patients wonder if they meet the necessary criteria for a successful LASIK procedure. This explainer article can serve as a first step towards finding all of that out.
First: why you should (seriously) consider a vision correction procedure
Convenience plays a role in why so many people choose to get a vision correction procedure in the first place. Your LASIK life is all about simplicity, so if you’re someone who is tired of messing around with contact lenses every day (and every night before bed) then your willingness to let go of the hassles of glasses and contacts is perhaps the first criteria.
Let’s face it: The easy lifestyle that this type of surgery promotes is just one of the (numerous) advantages that past patients can agree on. Plus, it’s the kind of surgery that may benefit so many different people, from millennials to baby boomers, the extreme athlete to the amateur yogi. With a vision correction procedure, you no longer have to worry about bringing your glasses to the beach with you. You won’t have to insert your contact lenses before spinning class, either. A vision correction procedure makes for a get-up-and-go way of living—isn’t it time you started living yours?
Since LASIK procedures first gained approval from both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada in the nineties, they have only become more routine—because everyone wants to make life a little less complicated.
When it comes to LASIK, age is not just a number
Generally speaking, if you are between the ages of 18 to 65, and your eyes are in great health, then you may be a great candidate for a vision correction procedure. Your age and ocular health are two elements that your surgeon will examine when deciding the type of surgery best-suited for you and your eyes.
It’s important to note that this is case-by-case. In some cases, patients much younger than 18 can undergo laser vision correction. For a more definite decision on this, though, your best bet is to speak to a medical professional about your individual vision concerns, and whether or not your age (or eye condition) can be treated surgically.
Here are the general age-related guidelines that health professionals take into account with vision correction procedures:
- If you are younger than 18, eye surgeons prefer to hold off on performing surgery. This is due to the fact that it’s normal for vision to change into early adulthood. After the age of 19, assuming your eyes are in good health, you’ll likely be given the goahead to get a procedure.
- If you’re older than 40, then you may be suitable for a different kind of procedure. If you’ve noticed blurry reading vision, it’s time to find out what the issue at hand is (presbyopia). Check with your doctor: They may propose an alternative solution for your eyesight. Many people go their entire lives without needing reading glasses...until reaching a certain age.
- For people who have cataracts (typically affecting people aged 70 and over), a lens replacement procedure may be the best solution. Cataract—masses of proteins that gather on the surface of the eye’s lens—will affect more than half of the senior population. While a standard LASIK surgery itself cannot correct a condition like cataracts, other procedures available can improve vision at this stage.
Your prescription and prescription range matters
While many believe their prescription must stabilize before they are ready to get LASIK, this isn’t necessarily the case. In short, your visual prescription does not need to be stable to get LASIK. For the most part, any changes to your eyesight after the age of 18 will be minor which means a surgeon can treat you once you’re ready for the procedure. But, as a general rule, many surgeons want to see that your prescription hasn’t changed too drastically for a period of at least a year before they perform surgery on you. A 12-month period gives your eyes an adequate amount of time to “settle into” their prescription before getting LASIK.
Since first becoming widely available, LASIK surgeons were limited in the number of patients they could treat. But that’s no longer the case. Today’s technology has improved vastly, allowing for those who have higher prescriptions (high myopes or hyperopes) to be candidates for LASIK. The best way to learn about your prescription, and whether or not it’s ready for a vision correction procedure, is by undergoing periodic eye exams—at least once a year.
The role that overall health plays when getting LASIK
There are certain reasons why your overall health may preclude you from being eligible for a vision correction procedure, including:
- Dry eye syndrome: If you have experienced or currently live with severe dry eyes, then you may be suggested an alternative option than a standard LASIK procedure. Additionally, some medications, such as isotretinoin, can decrease overall hydration, which causes a risk to your eyes. In these events, it is best to wait until after you complete your course of medication before going ahead with the procedure.
- Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are planning on becoming pregnant in the next 6 months or so, then it is best to refrain from getting a vision correction procedure in the immediate. Unfortunately, LASIK (and other types of vision correction procedures) is not recommended when considering pregnancy. This is because a change to one’s hormones can alter our corneas, leading to a temporary change to vision. Therefore, it’s best to wait a few months after giving birth and breastfeeding before thinking about surgery. An optometrist, OBGYN, or GP will help you determine an appropriate amount of time to get LASIK after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Certain medical conditions: If you have conditions like diabetes, autoimmune disease, or collagen vascular disease then it is best to consult with your physician before considering LASIK.
- Other types of eye conditions: Do you have an eye condition other than myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, such as keratoconus, or other corneal-thinning disorders, corneal scarring, glaucoma, cataracts, or even ocular herpes? If so, then it is best to speak to a doctor or surgeon to determine your LASIK eligibility as they may advise an alternative treatment solution. One of the best ways to know what eye condition you have, and to get a better sense of your overall eye health, it is recommended to undergo periodic eye exams (about once a year). In doing so, you’ll get an idea of your prescription is sufficiently stable to undergo LASIK, or if it’s in your best interest to wait.
Your corneal thickness plays a part
While there’s no way for you to see the size of your cornea (the surface layer of the eye) this is something vital in knowing whether or not you’re a candidate for LASIK. Through the safe, diagnostic testing, an eye care professional will measure your cornea—and decide what procedure is best-suited for your eyes. Luckily, even if your cornea is too thin, there are alternative procedure options that can help free you from glasses and contact lenses, such as any of the ones detailed below.
Alternatives to LASIK for (almost) every pair of eyes
- LASIK is the most common eye procedure, and is believed to be one of the safest elective procedures in modern medicine. Similar procedures like PRK and All-Laser LASIK (a form of LASIK sometimes known as “bladeless” LASIK) suggest waiting until the age of 18 too. Laser eye surgery, for example, is intended for younger patients but there’s no reason why people at any age can’t benefit from clear vision.
- A treatment for presbyopia, like Laser PresbyVision™, is a great solution for the visual decline you’ll (likely) experience with age. The aging eye loses elasticity with age, making it more difficult to focus on nearby objects. This usually starts to happen around the age of 40. Most people find wearing reading glasses annoying—and seek alternative treatments, like a vision correction procedure. For these people, surgeons usually recommend a treatment similar to LASIK (we call it Laser PresbyVision™). For this option, the surgeon will correct each eye differently creating what is called a “blend zone” meaning that one eye is corrected for near vision and the other for distance vision, making a “blend zone” that makes for clearer vision.
- As previously mentioned, the quality of our eyesight can decline over time. This condition is known as presbyopia, and for the most part, it has a negative impact on our reading vision. Luckily, we offer two treatment options for age-related reading vision loss. One example is the innovative Lens PresbyVision™ procedure. This surgery helps correct eyesight that has changed with age. It also is beneficial in helping prevent cataracts from forming. Lens replacement procedures, like Lens PresbyVision™, will remove the eye’s natural lens and replace it with an artificial one, providing clarity at all distances.
You won’t know which treatment option is best for you until you speak to an eye care professional.
I think I’m ready for LASIK, what’s the next step?
Now that you know a little more about what puts you in the running for a vision correction procedure, it’s your turn to see if you meet the criteria for a successful vision correction procedure. Still have questions? Give our free Information Kit a read or book a free consultation today.