What is laser eye surgery?
Today, lasers are used by ophthalmologists in many surgical procedures. Lasers can be used to perform refractive lens exchange, lens implant and laser cataract surgery.
The term ‘laser eye surgery’ is used to describe procedures such as LASIK, ASLA/PRK and SMILE®, which are performed to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. While many people are suitable for laser eye surgery, there are certain people for whom it may not be appropriate.
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Suitability for vision correction
If a person has had a stable prescription for 12 months, has an otherwise healthy eye and is in good general health, it is most likely that they are suitable for laser eye surgery. Most people are suitable for LASIK. However, if a person has unusually thin or irregular corneas, the laser eye surgeon will recommend ASLA, and SMILE may be recommended for people with a high degree of short-sightedness.
(Possibly) unsuitable for a laser vision correction procedure
The following may not be suitable for laser eye surgery:
- People over the age of 40. Near vision loss – called presbyopia – is a natural part of ageing. It causes a person to gradually find it more and more difficult to read close-up items, such as menus or a mobile phone. Their options: other than using reading glasses, people who suffer from presbyopia may be suitable for laser blended vision or a refractive lens exchange (also called laser lens surgery).
- People who have extremely high refractive errors. If a patient has an above average level of myopia or hyperopia, LASIK or ASLA may not be recommended (as an example, an above average level of myopia is between -8 and -20 diopters). Their options: if SMILE is not suitable, a person with a high refractive error can have a Phakic IOL (also called an implantable contact lens) implanted in front of the natural lens of the eye.
- People with an eye disorder, disease or an autoimmune disorder. People with uncontrolled autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or a family history of keratoconus may be more prone to complications with laser eye surgery. People with diabetes or other health issues may be suitable, depending on their particular situation. Their options: only a consultation with an ophthalmologist will confirm whether or not they qualify for a laser vision correction procedure.
- People under the age of 20. If you are under 20, your eye prescription is most likely still changing – this is normal. Most laser eye surgeons will want to ensure that your prescription has not changed for at least 12 months prior to surgery (this can occasionally occur for people under the age of 20). Their options: most will just have to be ‘patient’. Although laser eye surgery is sometimes performed so people can qualify to enter the ADF or police, it is best to wait until a stable prescription is achieved.
A vision correction solution is available for 99% of people with otherwise healthy eyes. It may not always be laser eye surgery, but if you are interested in vision correction, book an appointment with an ophthalmologist to find out what your options are.
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