LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is a “refractive surgery” procedure which means that its purpose is to reduce a patient’s refractive error or glasses need. PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is a similar type of refractive surgery but is not as common as LASIK surgery.
What Types of Glasses Prescriptions can Refractive Surgery Correct?
The glasses prescriptions most suitable for successful treatment with refractive surgery are simple myopia and hyperopia. Mild to moderate amounts of astigmatism can also be corrected with refractive surgery but that procedure is often more complex and expensive. Refractive surgery does very little for presbyopia other than set one eye for near and the other eye for distance which creates a mono-vision effect.
Who is a Good Candidate for Refractive Surgery?
The best candidates for refractive surgery are healthy adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years old with a stable glasses prescription for at least one year. Since all refractive surgery procedures involve removal of corneal tissue, patients must have a minimal corneal thickness to be a good candidate. Contact lens intolerant patients are often good candidates for refractive surgery also. Probably the most important criteria for being a good candidate is realistic expectations. Modern refractive surgery will dramatically reduce your need for glasses but it is not perfect and residual refractive errors can remain causing occasional glasses needs after the procedure.
What are the Side Effects of Refractive Surgery?
The most common side effects of refractive surgery are dry eyes and increased glare while driving at night. To minimize dry eyes after surgery, any pre-existing dry eye needs to be under control before surgery. Restasis can be very helpful with pre/post LASIK dry eye. Everyone experiences glare while driving at night and refractive surgery can make glare worse. If this glare is a significant problem, it can controlled with night driving glasses and antiglare coating on the lenses.
Are Glasses Needed After Refractive Surgery?
The goal of refractive surgery is to dramatically reduce the need for glasses. However, past the age of 40 reading glasses will be required for near vision tasks. Also, a post-surgical distance prescription may develop after surgery. These patients can benefit from an enhancement procedure or a part time set of distance only eyewear.
What Steps Should I Take If I Am Interested in Refractive Surgery?
We recommend that you schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination to determine if your prescription is stable and appropriate for refractive surgery. An eye health examination must also be completed to determine if your eyes are healthy enough for surgery. Dr. Reinders has over 22 years of experience in refractive surgery consultations and pre and postoperative care.