Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery If I am HIV Positive?

If you have been considering Laser Eye Surgery for a while, you may have learned that some conditions can affect your suitability for treatment. Having learned this, you may wonder whether Laser Eye Surgery is an option for you. The good news is that – thanks to advancements in technology and expertise in recent years – Laser Eye Surgery is more accessible than ever before. But what if you are HIV positive? Could this affect your suitability? Let’s find out.

What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus – known more commonly by the abbreviation ‘HIV – is a virus that damages cells in the immune system and weakens your body’s ability to fight infections and disease.

HIV can progress to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) – a number of life-threatening infections and illnesses that occur when the immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus. Unlike HIV, AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

There is currently no cure for HIV; however, there are now very effective drugs that prevent the development of any AIDS-related illnesses. As a result, with an early diagnosis and treatment, most people who are HIV positive are able to enjoy a long and healthy life.

How Does HIV Affect the Eyes?

Many people with HIV experience related problems with their eyes. In fact, it is estimated that around 70% of people with HIV have an eye problem. In some cases, eye problems can be an early sign of infection with the virus and, if left untreated, some can lead to serious vision impairment and even blindness. However, with timely treatment, such cases are rare.

The most common eye problem experienced by people with HIV is HIV retinopathy (also known as HIV microvasulopathy). This occurs when blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye become blocked or begin to bleed, causing damage. According to a recent study, around 40-60% of HIV-positive patients are affected by HIV retinopathy.

Patients who are HIV-positive are also at a higher risk of opportunistic eye diseases – especially when the virus has progressed to AIDS. These can include:

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO)

Other eye-related symptoms that may be more common among HIV-positive patients may include retinal detachment and dry eyes.

Laser Eye Surgery and HIV

The development of effective treatment options means that most patients who are HIV-positive are able to live a long and healthy life. As such, HIV is not necessarily a contraindication for Laser Eye Surgery. As our expert Laser Eye Surgeon explains in the video below, we treat all of our patients the same in determining their suitability for treatment.

Youtube video link

Your suitability will be determined based on a wide range of factors, all of which will be assessed during a comprehensive screening appointment. During this process, the doctor will consider your eye health, the extent of your prescription, and your health overall before making a final decision.

Following surgery, HIV-positive patients are given a very broad spectrum of antibiotics to help prevent infection after the treatment.

To sum up, there is no distinction made between patients with HIV and those without. Therefore, as long as you meet the standard requirements for surgery, it is likely you will still be suitable for Laser Eye Surgery.

If you have any further questions about your suitability for Laser Eye Surgery, get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, if you’re ready to go ahead, Book a Consultation today.