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Are You a Candidate for LASIK Surgery?

Even though LASIK corrective eye surgery is elective, not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. A good candidate qualifies for LASIK surgery by meeting certain general requirements. Following the guidelines for candidacy reduces risk factors and advances safe surgical practices.

Top-10 Requirements for LASIK Eligibility

1.) You should be 18 years of age or more.
Eyes mature and develop at differing rates. The best LASIK candidates are at least 18 years of age.

2.) You need to have stable vision.
Stable vision means your prescription has been the same for at least a year; two is better. Younger patients (under the age of 25) or those on certain medications may have fluctuating prescriptions.

3.) It is best if you’re free of eye infections or injuries for a year or longer.
Infections such as Herpes of the eye, eye inflammation, dry eyes and corneal or retinal diseases may cause additional risks or complications.

4.) You must be free of autoimmune disorders.
Many of these disorders affect wound healing. Examples include Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis.

5.) Patients should not take medications that exacerbate complications
Certain medications, like Renova, steroids or immunosuppressants may prevent healing after LASIK surgery. Others, like Accutane, may promote dry eye syndrome. Any and all medications that a patient is taking or has taken in the recent past should be divulged to their doctor.

6.) Your corneas cannot be scarred or abnormal.
The reshaping of the cornea may be affected if it is abnormal or scarred. There are many possible explanations for scarred or abnormal corneas: disease, trauma or aging. The most likely is Keratoconus, which is a disorder where the cornea eventually forms a rounded cone shape.

The most likely causes of Keratoconus are:

7.) You should not be pregnant or nursing.
Hormonal changes in pregnant and nursing women many times affect vision stability. If you are considering pregnancy, talk openly with your surgeon about the possible timing and its ramifications.

8.) A patient’s pupils must be of appropriate size.
Larger pupils may cause a LASIK candidate to experience glare, halos or starbursts after surgery. Alternative methods are available for these patients, such as LASEK or Epi-LASIK.

9.) A good candidate needs to have sufficient corneal thickness.
The surgeon needs to create a corneal flap; those with thin corneas (the transparent front of the eye) may not qualify. If the cornea is too thin (the surgeon will prefer to leave 250 microns of cornea untouched), the surgeon may not be able to safely create the flap. There are additional alternative methods that can accommodate this problem.

10.) A candidate cannot have severe refractive errors.
LASIK surgery can’t cure every refractive error. Patients with severe refractive errors should consider other procedures such as implants. Consult with your doctor.

Non-Physical Qualifications:

Not every qualification is physical; there are other qualifications which make you a good candidate for LASIK surgery.

1.) You should have realistic expectations.
LASIK Surgery won’t give you X-Ray vision, nor will it last forever. Having realistic expectations about what LASIK will accomplish is important. Talk to your surgeon prior to the procedure about your expectations and concerns. They should outline all the possible outcomes, including Visual acuity, healing time and possible complications. Understanding and accepting these outcomes, before signing the Informed Consent agreement, makes for a good LASIK candidate.

2.) Try to be a conscientious post-care patient.
There are definite post-op procedures that patients need to follow (many post-op visits, restrictions on behavior, like swimming, and care for your eyes) if you aren’t willing to follow them, you should re-think having LASIK.

3.) Your job does not prohibit LASIK surgery.
Certain positions prohibit refractive procedures. For example, the military, has been slow to allow pilots to have refractive surgery. It is a good idea to check with your employer or professional society to see if there are restrictions in regards to LASIK surgery.

4.) Good candidates prefer non-contact sports
If you take a blow to the face on a routine basis (boxer, wrestler, martial arts) LASIK surgery may not be right for you. Talk with your ophthalmologist about the best procedure to improve your vision while continuing your activity.

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