I Can See Clearly Now – The Wonders of Lasik.

By: Thomas Hunter

Lasik eye surgery is a procedure that helps to correct poor vision. It takes place in an office setting and it takes very little time to complete. In addition, it is relatively painless. To date, millions of people have benefited from this procedure.

Despite its simplicity and the number of people who have taken advantage of this innovative technique, there is potential for serious medical complications. Before going through with the procedure, therefore, the doctor asks a series of health related questions and completes a complete examination. Afterward, Lasik eye surgeons often define candidates into three categories: the ideal candidate, the less-than-ideal candidate, and the non-candidate. The following are some health issues that can decrease a patient’s status when determining whether or not he is a good candidate for Lasik eye surgery.

Extremely Low Vision

Lasik eye surgery is limited in the amount of vision it can correct. Therefore, some people are beyond the procedure’s ability to help. For this reason, the FDA does not allow patients with more than +6.00 diopters of hyperopia or –14.00 diopters of myopia to undertake the surgery. In addition, patients with more than 6.00 diopters of astigmatism are ineligible according to FDA standards, as well. The doctor can determine this information easily with a refractive eye exam.

Changing Prescription

While we grow, our eyes continually change size and shape. For this reason, a young person’s prescription for eyeglasses or contacts is constantly changing. Most prescriptions, however, stabilize by the time a person reaches the age of 18. For some people, this stabilization doesn’t occur until sometime in the 20’s. For this reason, surgeons prefer operating on patients over the age of 18 and whose prescription has remained stable for at least two years. This helps ensure that the eyes have stopped developing. Otherwise, operating on eyes that are still growing can create complications and the vision correction will become non-existent as the eyes continue to change.

Patient Health

Certain health factors can prevent a potential Lasik candidate from being considered ideal. For example, certain autoimmune disorders that slow the healing process make Lasik eye surgery a higher risk. In addition, patients with conditions requiring medications such as immunosuppresants and steroids are also considered less-than-ideal because these medications also slow the healing process and increase the risk of complications.

Patients who are pregnant or who are nursing are also not considered ideal candidates for Lasik eye surgery. This is because the shape of the eyes can be temporarily changed by hormonal changes during these times of a woman’s life.

Patient Anterior Eye Health

Most doctors divide the eye into two portions: anterior, or front, and posterior, or back. The anterior portion of the eye includes the iris, the eyelids, the cornea, the conjunctiva, the sclera, and the lens. The Lasik surgeon will check for abnormalities in these areas using a biomicroscope, called a slit-lamp. In order to complete this test, the patient needs to put his chin on a chin rest located over the examining chair. The doctor will then shine a line into the patient’s eyes to examine the anterior area of the eye. Abnormalities in this area can decrease a patient’s likelihood of being considered an ideal Lasik eye surgery patient.

Patient Posterior Eye Health

Specific eye diseases, such as ocular hypertension, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, can be detected through a posterior eye exam. This area includes the optic nerve, the retina, and blood vessels. An exam of the posterior region is called a fundus exam. Shining a light into the patient’s eye and looking through his pupil accomplish the exam.

Irregularly Shaped Cornea

A cornea that is extremely irregularly shaped is impossible to operate on. Patients with the condition keratoconus, for example, are ineligible for the procedure. This is because it gradually makes the shape of the cornea steeper until it finally becomes cone-shaped. A small amount of irregularity in the cornea shape is fine, as with patients who have mild to moderate astigmatism. The surgeon examines the patient’s corneal topography prior to surgery. This will help determine whether or not he is an ideal candidate for Lasik eye surgery.

Thin Corneas

Some patients have corneas that are too thin; this makes it impossible to create the “flap” necessary to perform the procedure. Therefore, Lasik surgery will actually make the patient’s vision worse instead of better. The doctor measures the thickness of the patient’s cornea using a pachometer.

Lasik surgery is an extraordinary procedure that has helped thousands of people see better. Through a thorough examination and proper treatment of your visual difficulties, you, too, can experience the wonders of Lasik.


This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease".

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