LASIK eye surgery uses a laser to reshape the cornea—the outer portion of the eyeball—to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. For many people, LASIK eye surgery offers a chance to quit wearing glasses or contact lenses. Like any surgery, though, it carries some risks. Here's how to tell if LASIK is right for you.
How does one qualify for LASIK?
LASIK corrects refractive errors. These are errors in the way the eye bends light. In order to qualify for LASIK, you must have an eligible refractive error such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. LASIK cannot correct conditions such as lazy eye and glaucoma.
To be a good candidate, you must:
- Have a relatively stable prescription. People with unstable refractive errors may frequently change prescriptions, and are not good candidates.
- Be an adult over the age of 18.
- Have good eye health, including a cornea that is sufficiently thick.
- Not be pregnant or nursing.
- Not have advanced glaucoma or a cataract.
- Not have poorly controlled diabetes.
- Not have a history of certain serious eye infections.
It's also important to have realistic expectations about surgery. Not all people will get 20/20 vision. Some people do not experience significant vision improvements. A 2016 study found an overall success rate of 97 percent, but success rates vary from study to study and may partially depend on the skill of the surgeon.
What are the benefits?
For many people, LASIK offers better eye sight, and allows them to stop wearing contact lenses or glasses. This may be welcomed relief for those who dislike glasses, find contacts uncomfortable, or suffer from frequent eye infections.
People who undergo LASIK may see a decrease in eye expenses over time. When LASIK means you no longer have to wear glasses or contacts, you won't have to pay to replace these corrective devices, and you might need fewer eye appointments.
What are the potential drawbacks?
Some people experience temporary vision problems following LASIK, including blurry vision. For a small number of LASIK patients, these vision changes are permanent. Some other potential drawbacks of LASIK include:
- In rare cases, vision might get worse. Very rarely, LASIK can blind a person.
- A person might develop an eye infection or eye pain.
- LASIK may be expensive, and not all insurance plans cover it.