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Are you a good candidate for LASIK?

Written by  Christine Stoddard

LASIK is the most common and well-known type of refractive eye surgeries. If you wear glasses or contacts, you may have been tempted by it, but hesitant or even frightened of the procedure.

OurHealth Roanoke & New River Valleys magazine spoke with Will Griffeth, MD with Vistar Eye Center in Roanoke who says the first question to ask is how well are you doing in your glasses or your contacts.

“Some people just despise their glasses,” says Dr. Griffeth. “They get tired of having to reach for them first thing in the morning. They would give anything to just wake up in the morning and see.” Then there are those who wear contacts – and still can’t stand them. “Some people need contact lens to have a good quality of vision, but their eyes don't agree,” he continues. “They really don't want to go back to glasses, but they are kind of out of options. That’s when they may consider LASIK.”

For People on the Go

LASIK especially makes sense for athletic people and other folks who are constantly on the go. “The more active your lifestyle, the more appealing refractive surgery is,” explains Dr. Griffeth. “These are procedures that have excellent durability. You can count on them to be very stable, regardless of your activity level.” That is a huge contrast to the inconvenience of glasses and contacts. “Glasses are an obvious impediment for a lot of activities,” he says. “Contacts aren't great, either, especially if you're a swimmer.”

Get the facts from your doctors First

But just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re sure of it. Dr. Griffeth explains that there is little cause for concern – though surgery, no matter how safe, is still surgery. “No procedure is risk-free,” he says. “You need to have a careful discussion with people. We're dealing with people's eyes and they are understandably very cautious, but LASIK has drastically improved in the past 10 years. The technology has become incredibly precise.”

Learning if you are a candidate for LASIK

In order to minimize risk, doctors are careful in screening patients. Some people simply are not good candidates for LASIK because of the shape of their cornea and other factors. One such factor is consistency of vision. Most doctors prefer LASIK candidates to have a stable prescription. “We want those numbers in glasses or contacts to be relatively the same over a period of time, ideally,” states Dr. Griffeth. “We want our patients to still have good results at least 10 to 15 years out.”

Another factor is age. “I usually have a lower-end cutoff of 21 before I would offer you refractive surgery. Before that, higher risk of cornea changing shape,” he explains. “The upper-limit is truly the age where people get cataracts. The aging eye almost always has an option.”

How long does LASIK last?

As you age, your body changes. This includes your eyes. If you do get LASIK, it is likely that years down the line, you will need an enhancement. Once you hit middle age, you might have to go into reading glasses, too. The truth is, “Everyone's prescription changes,” says Dr. Griffeth. But rest assured that getting a LASIK correction years after your first procedure won’t be like starting from scratch, either.

“Sometimes when people think of needing correction in the future, they remember how things were like before their surgery,” says Dr. Griffeth. “Even if your vision changes over time, those changes are slow. For the large majority of LASIK patients, it's many years before they feel they need a correction. Sometimes patients who are in their 40s and 50s who had LASIK done in their 20s do go back to glasses, but their vision will still not be like it was before the surgery.” He adds, “I haven't met anyone who says they regret that that they got LASIK now that they're back in glasses. To them, getting LASIK was a valuable life improvement. It makes people very happy.”

Sometimes patients who are in their 40s and 50s who had LASIK done in their 20s do go back to glasses, but their vision will still not be like it was before the surgery.”

Choose a doctor with experience in LASIK surgery

“You don't want to compromise on the quality of your care. You need to understand that it is a surgery, and no surgery is perfect. Choosing a doctor who is experienced in performed LASIK surgery and is someone you feel you trust in a setting that's going to provide quality care is most important.

Put your Eyes to the Test!

Are you a good candidate for LASIK? Here’s a quick quiz! Circle YES or NO and then read the results below.

1. Are you at least 18 years old? Yes No
2. Are you tired of wearing glasses? Yes No
3. Do you find contacts disagreeable? Yes No
4. Has your vision been stable for the last few years? Yes No
5. Are you cataract-free? Yes No
6. Have you had any previous eye surgeries? Yes No

Results:

  • If you answered ‘yes’ to every question, you may be a good candidate for LASIK, but only a doctor can give you a professional, medically sound opinion.
    If you answered ‘no’ to every question, you are probably not a good candidate for LASIK, but only a doctor can give you a professional, medically sound opinion. Schedule a consultation today to find out.

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