After Eric exchanged pleasantries with the eye doctor, he remarked how relieved he would be to jettison the thick glasses he’d been wearing for months instead of his contact lenses.
The doctor frowned, then asked why he hadn’t been wearing his contacts. Eric said his optometrist had told him not to wear them while he was talking Prednisone, a steroid. The eye surgeon quickly advised him that as long as he was taking steroids, he wasn’t a candidate for LASIK surgery. He would have to return once he was off the drug.
While LASIK procedures sometimes correct farsightedness, they’re most often done on individuals who wear glasses or contact lenses – or a combination of both – due to nearsightedness, also called myopia. According to the National Institutes of Health (HIH) MedlinePlus site at nih.gov, the surgery can also be used to reverse astigmatism. LASIK is a type of eye surgery that permanently alters the shape of the cornea of the eye to improve visual acuity. It has freed many from needing glasses or contact lenses.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have created guidelines for determining when individuals should have LASIK surgery. They include:
1. The patient must be at least 18. In some states, depending upon the equipment used, the minimum age is 21. The vision of individuals who are younger than 18 normally is still changing. However, for some small children, extreme nearsightedness in one eye warrants using LASIK to prevent development of a condition known as lazy eye.
2. Women should have the surgery when not be pregnant or breastfeeding. Either of these can affect eye measurements.
3. Patients cannot be taking certain prescription drugs. Among them are Accutane and oral Prednisone.
4. Individuals must have a stable prescription and healthy eyes. Nearsightedness tends to get worse in some patients until their late twenties.
5. The candidate’s overall health should be good. He or she should be free of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. It’s also important not to suffer from glaucoma, a herpes infection or the eye, or cataracts.
Prospective surgeons normally screen patients carefully to make sure they should have LASIK surgery. One reason for this is that it’s possible to over- or under-treat an individual. This can mean additional surgery or dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
Individuals who are patient as far as expectations are good candidates for a LASIK procedure. It’s important to realize that vision sometimes takes three to six months to stabilize after the surgery.
Some individuals who already experience presbyopia and need lenses to help with reading are good candidates for LASIK surgery. However, they must realize at the outset that LASIK cannot make one eye see well for both distant and near vision at the same time.
The most common solution for these patients is to correct one eye to see well close up and the other, for distance. If the patient can adjust to this combination, he or she might be able to avoid using reading classes. Individuals who wear contact lenses might wish to try to mimic the result with an adjusted lens prescription in each eye to mimic anticipated surgery results.
If the procedure corrects only distance vision, the patient might still need reading glasses at around age 45.