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LASIK and Myopia (Nearsightedness): What You Should Know

By Beth Krietsch
For people with mild or moderate cases of myopia, LASIK surgery can be a safe and effective option for correcting vision.

Myopia, commonly referred to as near-sightedness, is a common eye condition that affects somewhere around 25% of Americans. If you have myopia, nearby objects will appear clear, but those that are far away look blurry. This happens because of a refractive error in which your eye doesn’t bend light properly. Glasses and contact lenses are frequently used to treat myopia, but LASIK is also an option in some cases.

If you suffer from myopia you may experience symptoms like eye strain, headaches, squinting to see, and difficulty reading road signs and seeing objects that are far away. For mild and moderate forms of myopia, LASIK is an excellent treatment, explains Yuna Rapoport, a New York City-based ophthalmologist. Rapoport says LASIK isn’t recommended for patients with more severe myopia or those who suffer from any type of irregular astigmatism.

In situations where myopia is more severe, a doctor may recommend a different procedure called PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, says Isaac Chocron, a Miami-based ophthalmologist. “When patients have high degrees of myopia or thin corneas, LASIK can be a risk factor for a complication known as post-lasik ectasia,” Chocron says.

To determine if LASIK is a suitable treatment for myopia, an ophthalmologist will take the prospective patient through a series of diagnostic testing.

“We obtain 3-dimensional maps of the cornea and corneal thickness,” says Jay Bansal, an ophthalmologist and medical director of LaserVue Eye Center within the Pacific Vision Eye Institute in San Francisco. “We also do a complete comprehensive eye exam to ascertain eye health.”

Before recommending LASIK, the eye doctor will also check for significantly dry eyes and make sure the patient’s prescription stays stable for at least one year. In some cases, LASIK isn’t recommended for people with significantly dry eyes. It’s also not recommended for people who have experienced a change in their glasses or contact lens prescription within the past year.

If you’re considering LASIK treatment for myopia, Bansal suggests finding a surgeon who uses the latest LASIK technology and has significant experience performing LASIK surgery. “LASIK became available in 1996, and the technology has been rapidly evolving ever since,” Bansal says. “Make sure your chosen facility is using the most updated and effective technology.”