As an Optometrist in Mississauga, I get a lot of questions about laser eye surgery. That might be because I had it done (with great results, I might add!) but mostly because our patients like most are definitely interested in becoming free from glasses and contact lenses.
LASIK is only one type of refractive or corrective procedures that your optometrist can provide a referral for.There are large number of other options available as well; LASEK, PRK, ASA as well as non-laser surgeries such as implantable contact lenses, refractive lens exchange and IOL procedures to treat different types of visual needs.
“When a patient comes in wondering about surgical options for correcting their vision, there are a few items I’m concerned with while completing the eye exam and consultation…”
What your Optometrist Considers before Recommending LASIK
Prescription Stability – Has the prescription that has been stable for a year or longer?
Teenagers that are still growing and developing, those who are diabetic or pregnant and general aging can all cause changes to your prescription.
A prescription that fluctuates can mean that you are not a good candidate for the procedure; however, our optometrists can recheck in 6-12 months following your eye exam to ensure your candidacy for laser eye surgery.
Overall Health – Certain medical conditions can impact the success of LASIK
Conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can affect the body’s ability to heal, therefore can affect if you are a good candidate for corrective surgery. There are actually very few medical conditions that make LASIK impossible, however it is best to work with your eye doctor in determining whether this procedure or another option is right for you.
Corneal Health – How healthy is the front of your eye?
The cornea or the front of your eye; is a clear tissue that lets light through and focuses it into the eye, or if you wear contact lenses it is the surface that the lens sits on. If the cornea has scarring from an injury to the eye or previous surgery this can lead to unpredictable results following surgery.
Other factors that can impact your optometrist’s recommendations include irregular curvature or thinning of the cornea.
Corneal Thickness – is there enough tissue to complete surgery safely?
All the laser procedures (LASIK, PRK, etc.) involve removing corneal tissue with a laser to shape the cornea to properly focus or refract light into your eye correcting vision. For this reason, a surgeon needs to be able to remove enough of the corneal tissue to correct the prescription, while still leaving enough for proper corneal health. This factor often affects which procedure is recommended over another.
Retinal Health – How healthy is the back of the eye?
Patients who are very near-sighted (have trouble seeing the distance clearly), are at increased risk to having retinal health issues. By completing a comprehensive eye exam and dilating the pupils, the retina (back of the eye) is checked for small holes or tears. Problems such as these would require treatment prior to any laser eye procedure, a retinal specialist may need to be seen before scheduling surgery.
Risk of Glaucoma – Do you have elevated eye pressure?
LASIK or any other laser eye surgery affects your current and long term intraocular (or eye pressure). This is because of how the procedure itself is completed and the changes to the corneal thickness following surgery.
During surgery the pressure in the eye is raised temporarily to allow for the corneal flap to be made; if you’re prone to elevated eye pressures already or your optic nerve shows signs of lack of circulation, raising the pressure can be dangerous.
Changes made to the cornea during surgery can make it hard to detect changes to intraocular pressure later in life; leading to increased risk of undiagnosed glaucoma and possible vision loss.
How a LASIK Consultaion Works
If your considering LASIK, you will need to complete a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor to ensure you meet all of the criteria above.
“The examination we do for a pre-operative consultation is very similar to an annual eye exam with dilation drops, just with a few more measurements to consider. We will typically measure your pupil size and recheck your prescription after dilation – this is because they ‘knock-out’ your focusing muscles and allows us to get a more accurate measurement of your eyes.”
Following an eye exam and LASIK consultation if the optometrist believes you will be a good candidate, your exam results will be sent to one of the local surgeons and a preoperative appointment will be scheduled.
During the preoperative appointment some of the testing completed during your eye exam will be repeated as well as some additional testing where your cornea will be measured down to fractions of millimeters, completing the most accurate possible results for your surgical recommendations.
One Last Note from the Optometrist
“And, if you’ve had refractive surgery and your vision is 20/20, you still need an annual eye exam! The health of the eyes is still very important, and any increased risk of eye disease that you had before surgery remains following the procedure too!”
If you’d like to find out your options for LASIK or other laser eye surgeries, consider completing your annual eye exam at Trillium Eye Care.
Our Eye Doctors are compassionate and experienced and will explain all their findings to you as well as discuss the best possible treatment options for your vision!
Schedule your comprehensive eye exam with our Doctors of Optometry today!
Dr. Hillis a licensed Optometrist at Trillium Eye Care in Port Credit, Mississauga and is a great advocate for corrective laser eye surgery. He loves to stay involved in the community, volunteering his services and knowledge to make a difference locally and abroad!