LASIK Requirements: Are You a Candidate for the Procedure?

Are you tired of fumbling with your eyeglasses and paying for contact lenses? Do you ever wonder how much easier your life would be if your vision were better?

There are more than 1 billion people around the world with vision problems. In fact, more than 800 million people can’t even see their televisions clearly without glasses or contacts.

The good news is that, in the last 20 years, LASIK eye surgery has helped more than 30 million people around the globe with their nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms.

The burning question is, is LASIK right for you? In this article, we’ll give you the inside scoop on LASIK requirements and how to prepare for the procedure.

Is LASIK Safe?

It’s been 20 years since the FDA approved LASIK surgery and the long-term results are encouraging. More than 95 percent of people who’ve undergone the procedure report being satisfied with the experience.

There are some wild stories about LASIK on the internet, but in reality, the procedure is a straightforward one. The doctor uses a laser to remove tissue and slightly change the shape of their patients’ corneas.

It might sound scary, but LASIK is a routine procedure that’s typically completed in under an hour.

The most important thing about getting LASIK done is the quality of your doctor. Your LASIK surgeon should be a member in good standing of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and have a track record of successful surgeries.

Are You a Good LASIK Candidate?

In general, someone who gets LASIK has to be nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism. If you have cataracts or if your vision has deteriorated past a certain point, your doctor will likely decline to perform the surgery.

Talk to your doctor during your initial exam about any eye injuries or diseases you may have, along with any medications you’re taking.

Your Ophthalmologist will let you know if you’re a good candidate for LASIK, but you can pre-screen yourself before you meet with them.

Here are a few key factors that should qualify you for LASIK surgery.

Stable Eyeglass or Contact Prescription

If you are wondering about your candidacy for LASIK, the first thing you should do is check out your eyeglass prescription.

Has your vision changed at all in the last year? Have you had any eye injuries or medical conditions that affected your vision?

Even if you haven’t injured your eyes, your vision can change due to diabetes, another medical condition, or even natural aging.

Before you get LASIK surgery, you’ll need to have a stable vision prescription for at least one year. Even if your vision has changed recently, you may still be a good candidate for LASIK in the future.

General Good Health

Another common requirement for LASIK surgery is that you need to be healthy overall. You shouldn’t be recuperating from surgery or a major illness if you want to go in for the procedure.

Autoimmune diseases can also disqualify you from getting LASIK done, along with certain medications. Steroids, for example, often inhibit your body’s healing response.

Talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking to see if you’re a good candidate. It’s vital that you disclose all medications and all health conditions before you have LASIK done.

If you’re not upfront with your doctor, you could heal too slowly or wind up with permanent eye damage.

Over the Age of 21

If you’re a teen who’s considering LASIK surgery, the answer is that you may have to wait for a few years. Your eyes have to finish growing before you can have laser surgery.

While some doctors will perform the procedure on young adults who have turned 18, many will ask you to wait until you’re 21.

If you’re a senior citizen, you can still get LASIK surgery as long as it works well with your lifestyle and medication. Seniors are more likely to grapple with dry eyes and cataracts, two conditions that don’t mix well with LASIK surgery.

No matter how old you are, if you need LASIK but also have cataracts, your doctor will let you know which surgery you need.

How to Prepare for LASIK

If you meet the LASIK requirements we’ve listed above, it’s time to talk to your doctor. They might ask you if you’re pregnant or if you play contact sports.

If you’re pregnant, your hormones could interfere with recovery from surgery. If you play football or another contact sport, you could injure your eye after surgery without even realizing it.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for your LASIK surgery.

Take a Break from Contacts

If you think that you’re a good LASIK candidate, you should know that you’ll need to stop wearing contacts for a while.

This helps ensure that your doctor sees the true shape of your cornea during their initial exam. Even after your exam, you’ll need to take a break from your contacts before you get your surgery.

Patients who wear soft contact lenses should stop wearing them about two weeks before their consultation, while people who wear hard contact lenses should stop about a month before their eye exam.

If you wear gas permeable

Get a Baseline Eye Exam

The first thing you’ll need to do is to get an eye exam. Even if you’ve recently had your annual eye exam, you’ll still need to do another one that’s specifically geared toward LASIK eye surgery.

During your initial LASIK eye exam, your doctor will look at:

  • the thickness of your corneas;
  • the dilation of your pupils; and
  • your ability to produce tears.

If your pupils dilate too much, for example, you may not be able to get LASIK surgery.

As far as a timeline goes, try to get this done at least three months before you’d like to have your surgery. This gives your doctor time to process your results and make decisions about your eligibility for the procedure.

If you have any questions or concerns about LASIK, write them down before you meet with your doctor. They can answer questions about anything from recovery time to the cost of the procedure.

Schedule Vacation Time from Work

If you meet all of the LASIK requirements, try to make sure you can take time off for the surgery. It’s a quick surgery — about half an hour for each eye — but you’ll need to have someone drive you and pick you up the same day.

While you’re putting in for a few vacation days, take the time to see if your insurance will cover the cost of the surgery. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that your vision plan covers some percentage of the LASIK procedure.

Recovery from the surgery should only take a few days, but give yourself a week or so until you start driving again.

You might have a period of adjustment where your depth perception adjusts to your new, clearer vision.

There is another form of laser eye surgery called PRK, or Photorefractive Keratectomy. It’s similar to LASIK but has a much longer recovery time: about one month.

If your doctor thinks that you’d be a good candidate for PRK, it’s time to talk to your human resources department about a temporary disability leave.

Recovery from LASIK Surgery

After you have your procedure, you should be able to get back to normal within three days. There are some things you should avoid for at least one week, including:

  • swimming;
  • contact sports;
  • wearing mascara and eyeshadow;
  • rubbing your eyes; and
  • using laptops, phones, or tablets.

In addition, make sure that you use your eye drops as frequently as prescribed. If you have any pain or unusual pupil dilation, contact your doctor immediately.

Once you start driving again, you might want to use sunglasses for a period of about two weeks.

Wearing sunglasses while you drive will protect your eyes from unwanted sunlight as well as from airborne objects like rocks that could damage your eyes.

In the first few days after your surgery, you can also wear sunglasses indoors to help your eyes adjust. You may need to avoid wearing sunscreen and lotion during that period of time, though.

Do You Meet LASIK Requirements?

A few decades ago, laser eye surgery was considered major surgery. Nowadays, it’s a routine procedure that’s performed on an outpatient basis.

If you meet the LASIK requirements, it’s time to schedule your free LASIK consultation. Our doctors have been doing vision correction surgery for 20 years and offer free initial LASIK consultations.

We’ll answer all of the questions you have about LASIK and make sure that you feel comfortable and safe during the procedure.

We can work with many insurance plans and also offer financing options for our patients. We’re committed to providing world-class service to all of our patients in one of our five conveniently-located offices.

To get started with your initial evaluation and eye exam, you can call us directly or contact us online for more information. We even have an after-hours LASIK information hotline!

Our expert staff will help you get started on the road to better vision!