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My Optometrist Told Me I'm Not Eligible for LASIK. Is That True?

man in lab coat writing in book

Maybe, Let's explain.

If you go to a chain eyewear or big box store for your glasses needs, chances are you probably have an eye exam with an optometrist. Optometrists are medical professionals but they’re not physicians like your family doctor is. After college, while you were back living in mom and dad’s basement figuring out what you wanted to do with your life, they were hard at work on a four-year professional program to get a doctor of optometry degree.

Optometrists are great for helping you maintain regular vision care, determine your vision prescription and get you set up with a pair of frames or contacts.

But they’re not the only kind of eye doctor. There are also ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists go to med school, go through an internship and a residency for three years or longer. When it comes to eye care, they do the works, including full medical and surgical care.

If you have glasses or contacts, you’ve probably seen an optometrist. There are more than 33,000 optometrists in the U.S. compared with more than 19,000 ophthalmologists.

So why is this important?

Some optometrists don’t know the latest on LASIK

As good as optometrists are at primary eye care, some are not up to speed on the latest in “refractive surgery technology” (i.e. LASIK and similar vision correction surgeries). Not all optometrists, not necessarily your optometrist, but some simply aren’t up-to-date on the latest advances. Of course, the same goes for ophthalmologists who don’t specialize in refractive surgery.

That’s why you want to work with a doctor who focuses on refractive surgery. For example, new technology to screen patients was launched in just the last year that allows more people than ever before to get LASIK. If your optometrist isn’t aware of these advances, they may be telling you you’re not a good candidate when you actually are.

For that reason…

It never hurts to get a second opinion

This is true of any facet of your health. Getting multiple professional opinions is never a bad idea.

It may be best for you to consult with an eye doctor who works more regularly with people like yourself who are interested in exploring all their vision correction options, not just glasses and contacts.

So while figuring out if you are or aren’t a good candidate, it’s best to talk to an expert will be able to talk you through all your options and help you make the decision that’s best for you.

So what are you waiting for?

You can find a LASIK doctor near you here. Most do consultations for free.

If you have more questions about what makes someone a good candidate for LASIK, we have another story on the subject here.

If you have any other questions on the matter, you can ask us directly here. And if you want some silly GIFs of a girl whose glasses keep falling off while she tries to do yoga, we have that too.

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Indication: LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a laser surgery procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea to reduce or eliminate nearsightedness, farsightedness, or mixed visual irregularities due to an abnormal curve in the cornea (astigmatism). Only an eye care professional trained in laser vision correction can determine if you are a candidate for this procedure. The iFS® laser is a surgical laser that can be used to create flaps for use in LASIK surgery.

Contraindications: You should not have LASIK if you have collagen vascular (such as rheumatoid arthritis), autoimmune, or an immunodeficiency disease because they affect the body's ability to heal. You should not have this procedure if you are pregnant or nursing, show signs of corneal thinning, or take medications with eye-related side effects, such as Isotretinoin (Accutane®) for acne treatment or Amiodarone hydrochloride (Cordarone®) for normalizing heart rhythm.

Warnings: LASIK is not recommended if you have diabetes, a history of herpes simplex or herpes zoster keratitis, significant dry eye, or severe allergies.

Precautions: Your doctor will examine your eyes to determine if you are a candidate for this procedure. Talk to your doctor about any eye-related conditions, injuries, or surgeries you have had, as well as any changes to your vision in the past year. These may result in poor vision after LASIK. Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. After surgery, you may find it more difficult to see in conditions such as dim light, rain, snow, fog, or glare from bright lights at night. LASIK is for patients 21 years of age and over.

Side effects: Possible side effects include dryness, which may be severe; loss of vision or the possible need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery; and visual disturbances such as halos (hazy rings around lights), glare, starbursts, double images, and other visual irregularities that may be debilitating. Possible complications resulting from LASIK flap creation include swelling, inflammation or pain in your eye, infection, or flap-related complications. Mild to severe light sensitivity occurred in 1% of patients between 2 and 6 weeks after surgery. Some patients (0.03%) noticed a temporary spoke-like band of light in their peripheral vision.

Please consult with your eye care professional and carefully review the Patient Information Booklet regarding the potential risks and benefits of this procedure. Results may vary for each individual patient.

The iLASIK® platform utilizes the STAR S4 IR® Excimer Laser System, WaveScan WaveFront® System, as well as the iFS® Advanced Femtosecond Laser during the LASIK procedure.

Caution: U.S. Federal Law restricts these devices to use by practitioners who have been trained in their calibration and operation, and who have experience in the surgical treatment and management of refractive errors.

For U.S. Consumers Only