If you’re tired of relying on glasses or contact lenses to see clearly, you may be wondering whether LASIK surgery is right for you.
At Oregon Eye Specialists, we work with many patients who are qualified for LASIK – but not everyone understands whether they are a good candidate for this transformative procedure.
LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) is a popular surgical procedure that corrects common vision problems (like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism) to reduce your dependence on prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses.
With modern advancements in technology and relative price stability, LASIK has experienced rapid adoption since it was launched in the 1990s. Millions of people around the world have undergone LASIK with successful outcomes, and the more than 700,000 Americans per year who choose to correct their vision through LASIK have granted it the highest satisfaction rate of any elective surgery.
But how do you know if it’s right for you?
Clearer vision with LASIK
Your first step in determining whether to pursue LASIK corrective surgery is to go through a professional evaluation and consultation with your certified ophthalmologist.
Dr. Jacqueline Ng and Dr. Martin Balish of Oregon Eye Specialists are LASIK surgeons. Dr. Balish was one of the first in the region trained in refractive surgery techniques. We have asked for Dr. Balish’s insight into the key characteristics that qualify a patient for LASIK.
“Age can affect the general health of your eye, your ability to recover swiftly and easily from surgery, as well as the stability of your prescription needs,” says LASIK surgeon Dr. Martin Balish. “Younger patients (early twenties and lower) often continue to experience changes in their vision – at which point LASIK is not a long-term solution. Older patients (60 years and above) are more likely to have conditions such as cataracts, which means there may be alternative treatment options that will improve vision better than LASIK.”
General rule of thumb? LASIK candidates must be at least 18 years of age, and patients beyond the age of 60 should be checked for additional vision concerns (like cataracts) before considering themselves a strong candidate for LASIK.
2. Prescription Severity & Stability
“The benefits of LASIK are most significant for patients who rely on glasses or contacts for daily life – as the change in vision will not be as significant for patients who can get by without glasses and contacts,” says Dr. Martin Balish. “Additionally, it’s important that your prescription has been stable for at least 1-2 years. If your vision is undergoing change when you have LASIK, success can be short-lived and you may experience the need to resort back to prescription glasses or contact lenses.”
3. General (Eye) Health
LASIK eye surgery is a great option to treat common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. But if you suffer from a health condition that can affect how your body or eyes respond to surgery (or heal afterwards), you should plan to wait until that condition is resolved.
“Certain conditions like autoimmune diseases, immunodeficiency states, diabetes, and some medications may prevent proper healing after a refractive procedure,” says Dr. Balish. “But there are eye-specific disorders that can also keep you from being a qualified candidate.”
“If you suffer from an eye disease like keratoconus, glaucoma, cataracts, corneal disease, or other retinal and optic nerve diseases, you are likely not a great candidate for LASIK,” says Dr. Balish. “Additionally, LASIK surgery may aggravate certain eye conditions like persistent dry eyes or past injuries.”
4. Balanced Expectations
Statistically speaking, LASIK is a low-risk surgery. 93% of LASIK patients who undergo a professionally-administered surgery have their vision restored back to 20/20.
However, as with any surgery, patients should be aware of and consider the risk of side effects and complications before making a decision.
“It’s incredibly important that patients have a full understanding that laser eye surgery, as with all surgical procedures, involves some risk,” says Dr. Balish. “In addition, both the final outcome of surgery and the rate of healing may vary from person to person and even from eye to eye in each individual.”
Patients should know that:
- While LASIK improves vision and reduces the need for corrective eyewear for a vast majority of patients, it cannot provide perfect vision every time for all activities and eyesight range for every patient. Occasionally, re-treatments may be required.
- Some patients experience residual side effects. Usually, these are not significant and resolve within several months of surgery – occasionally, they are severe enough to interfere with normal activities.
- LASIK surgery, as with all surgical procedures, carries a risk of complications. Fortunately, less than 1% of the millions of LASIK patients have experienced serious, vision threatening problems. Most complications represent delays in full recovery and resolve within months of surgery.
The best way to ensure your expectations are realistic is to undergo a full evaluation and consultation with a highly specialized LASIK team.
5. Financial Commitment
Most vision insurance plans do not cover refractive surgery like LASIK because they consider it medically unnecessary – or “elective.” Because LASIK is considered an elective surgery, most patients must be willing and able to pay for the surgery out-of-pocket.
“While the cost of LASIK will vary from one provider to another, advancements in technology and rapid adoption of the procedure have kept the cost relatively stable since its introduction in the 1990s,” says Dr. Balish. “Patients today should expect to pay between $2,000 and $2,500 per procedure per eye.”
There are alternative options for to financing a LASIK procedure – like Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and financing companies that specialize in elective procedures.
6. Qualified Team
It may be tempting to choose a surgeon based only on cost, but there are many other factors that should go into selecting the right ophthalmic surgeon for your LASIK eye surgery. Dr. Balish spells out some of these considerations:“In addition to cost, patients should weigh the experience and track record of their LASIK surgeon, the LASIK technology offered by that surgeon, the total cost to achieve desired results (pre- and post-operative care, prescription drops, etc.), and the overall patient experience.”
A qualified team to support your eye health needs is always recommended, especially when it comes to laser eye surgery!
I think I am a LASIK candidate! Now what?
Step 1: Learn more about the process
There are many pre- and post-operative activities that contribute to your experience with LASIK surgery. Learn more about the full LASIK patient experience, and understand what the right treatment plan sounds like for you.
Step 2: Schedule a consultation
This is the easy part. If you are not already working with a LASIK-certified ophthalmic surgeon, there are hundreds to choose from in the state of Oregon. Start by asking your optometrist for a referral, and do some of your own research.
We recommend you choose a provider who has significant LASIK eye surgery experience, a track record of happy patients, and who provides you with readily-available information to make your LASIK decision.
Interested in scheduling a LASIK consultation with Oregon Eye Specialists?
Call today to schedule your evaluation: 503-935-5580