15 Mar Am I eligible for laser eye surgery?
If you’ve ever worn glasses or contact lenses you understand how expensive, delicate and time-consuming they can be. There’s a lot of cleaning, maintenance, appointments and cost that go into looking after your visual aids.
It’s no wonder that Laser eye surgery (or LASIK) is a commonly used treatment for people keen to improve their vision. LASIK is an investment in your eyesight, reducing, altering or eliminating the need for visual aids after treatment takes place.
Treatment is quick, often involving very little downtime. In fact, LASIK is gentle enough that the healing process begins immediately, and most patients can return to their usual activities the following day.
Not everyone is suitable for LASIK treatment, and the benefits of treatment will vary depending on your condition and age. Talking to an experienced eye surgeon will ensure you choose the treatment that’s right for your needs, and help you set realistic expectations on what your results can be.
To be eligible for LASIK, people generally need to meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have stable vision over the year prior to surgery, and an appropriate and stable glasses/contact lens prescription for at least two years
- Not pregnant or breastfeeding
- No significant medical findings, conditions or eye problems
Eyes grow just like every other organ of the body, and are affected by the hormonal changes that children go through when they start puberty. Most bodies stop growing at the end of puberty, which is why an age limit is in place for LASIK. Undergoing surgery before the eyes are fully formed can reduce the long-term results a person would expect to gain from treatment.
Many ophthalmologists recommend waiting until a person is in their twenties before undergoing surgery, as not everyone finishes puberty in their teens.
Have stable vision over the year prior to surgery, and an appropriate and stable glasses/contact lens prescription for at least two years
Having stable vision and a prescription you haven’t needed to change indicates that your eyesight is better suited for LASIK.
For people with eyesight that is continuously degrading, requiring a change in prescription every 12 months or so, you are likely to end up with disappointing results. Some prescriptions may sit outside the limits of LASIK treatment, which your surgeon can advise you when discussing your treatment options.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding undergo significant hormonal changes throughout their body and these changes include their eyesight. In fact, it’s not uncommon for women to change their glasses and contact prescriptions while they’re pregnant. Sometimes these changes in eyesight are temporary, and sometimes they aren’t. Having stable vision is important to ensure that people get the maximum benefit they can from undergoing LASIK treatment, mitigating the need to re-visit treatment within a short timeframe.
Pregnant women can also experience preeclampsia and diabetes. Both of these medical conditions affect the health of the eyes, and generally increase risks associated with surgery.
No significant medical findings, conditions or eye problems
If you’ve had or are experiencing significant medical or eye problems then LASIK isn’t right for you. Conditions such as glaucoma, corneal disease, keratoconus, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or corneal ulcers need to be discussed with your ophthalmologist.
Still unsure about your eligibility? Here are some commonly asked questions we get at the Binetter Eye Centre about LASIK:
Can I have laser eye surgery if I have astigmatism?
Yes – but your results may be less predictable than people with near-sightedness. In some cases, LASIK can cure your astigmatism, and for some people there may be likelihood of follow-up surgery required. Astigmatism up to +3 dioptres may be treated effectively.
Can laser eye surgery fix long sightedness?
Yes, it is possible depending on the severity of your condition. LASIK treatment can be performed if the surface of your eye is in good condition, and the thickness and curvature of your cornea meet surgery requirements. You may still require glasses or contact lenses after LASIK treatment.
Who is not a good candidate for laser eye surgery?
LASIK is not ideal for people under the age of 18, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people on certain prescription medication, those with unstable vision, people who suffer from dry eye syndrome, and those who are not in good general health.
What age is recommended for laser eye surgery?
People in their twenties and older are great candidates for LASIK, provided their bodies have stopped growing and they meet all other eligibility requirements. There is no older age limit for treatment.
How dangerous is laser surgery?
Complications from LASIK are extremely rare. Sometimes people will experience some mild side-effects post-treatment, such as dry eyes or temporary visual disturbances, but these should clear after a few weeks or months.
What is the prescription limit for eye laser surgery?
If you have an above average level of myopia or hyperopia you may not be eligible for LASIK.
LASIK is possible for 99% of people with otherwise healthy eyes. Ultimately, LASIK eligibility depends on the health and qualities of your unique eyes, and the only way to know for sure is to speak to an experienced LASIK surgeon.
This article is not a substitute for a consultation with your surgeon. Before choosing to proceed with laser eye surgery your surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about the right procedure and about the potential complications.
A unique mix of expertise, experience and international reputation, Dr Ron Binetter is the figure behind the Binetter Eye Centre. With more than two decades of hands-on experience in eye surgery, Dr Binetter is a specialist in cataract, lens implantation and laser eye surgery. Learn more about Dr Ron Binetter’s background and qualifications.