Criteria for Success
Laser eye surgery isn’t for everyone. The six general guidelines below are a good start for determining if LASIK or PRK is for you.
You may also obtain a personalized evaluation of your candidacy for LASIK through our online LASIK screening.
- Your eyes must be healthy. If you have any condition that can affect how your eyes respond to surgery or heal afterwards, you must wait until that condition is resolved. Examples are chronic dry eyes, conjunctivitis and any injury. Some conditions, such as cataracts that interfere with your vision, keratoconus and uncontrolled glaucoma, may disqualify you completely.
- You must be an adult. By law, certain procedures require you to be 18; others, 21. Younger patients can be treated as an exception.
- You must have stable vision for at least a year. Many young adults experience changes in their eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions in the teenage years. Vision stabilizes most often sometime in their 20s. Usually, it is nearsightedness gradually becoming worse, but there may be other changes as well. They are not good candidates until their eyes have “settled down” into one prescription. Your doctor can tell you whether your prescription is stable.
If you are pregnant, certain hormonal changes will cause fluid levels in your body to rise. This can change the shape of your corneas, leading to changes in your vision. Surgery should not be performed until your hormones and vision have “normalized” after pregnancy. This could take a few months. Dry eyes are often seen in pregnant women as well, and as mentioned above, you should postpone LASIK until your eyes are healthier. In addition, some medications that would normally be used before or after surgery to promote healing (such as antibiotics and steroids) may be risky for your baby, whether unborn or nursing.
- Degenerative or autoimmune diseases may be disqualifiers, too. Some examples are Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, HIV, and AIDS. Basically, if your body has any trouble with healing, your refractive surgery outcome may not be very good. Opinions vary among LASIK surgeons as to which diseases are automatic disqualifiers and which ones might pose acceptable risks in certain cases.
- Your prescription must be within certain limits. For example, very high amounts of myopia, which would require removal of too much corneal tissue, may preclude LASIK or make another type of refractive surgery a better option, such as insertion of artificial lenses known as phakic IOLs. [Read more about implantable lenses.]