What is the minimum prescription for Laser Eye Surgery?
Laser Eye Surgery is already a widely available procedure that’s only becoming more popular.
Most people, therefore, know at least one person who’s had it done. And chances are, they only have good things to say about it.
As well as improving your vision, reducing dependency on visual aids, and minimising things like dry eye, Laser Eye Surgery can free you up to engage in all sorts of activities, sports, and events you could never imagine doing with glasses or contacts.
Naturally, this might get you wondering what you need to do to benefit from it yourself. As luck has it, knowing if you’re suitable for Laser Eye Surgery is a mere matter of answering three questions:
- Are you over 18 years old?
- Are you in good health?
- Can you see well with your glasses?
If you answer “yes” to all the above, then there’s a high chance you’re suitable for treatment. However — and here’s the catch — that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an ideal candidate for it.
One of the reasons for this is just like you can have too high of a prescription that can’t be treated with Laser Eye Surgery, you can also have too low of a prescription.
But before we get to that, there’s also a few other factors you need to consider when determining whether or not you’re a good candidate for treatment. The main of which is your eye health.
Reasons you may be unsuitable for Laser Eye Surgery
It’s easy to think that if you have anything less than a perfect prescription, then Laser Eye Surgery was made for you. But the fact is, there are factors aside from your prescription that act as indicators as to whether or not you may be eligible for treatment.
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The best way to determine these is with a comprehensive consultation with an eye expert. It’s there you will get a clear idea of your chances of being suitable for Laser Eye Surgery, through way of assessing the following:
The stability of your prescription: Probably second in importance to your prescription is how stable it is. Typically clinics ask you have a stable prescription for twelve months to two years before the procedure. This is why teenagers and young people tend not to be great candidates for treatment.
The thickness of your corneas: LASIK, the most common procedure, requires a cornea that isn’t too thin or misshapen to be performed safely. Having Laser Eye Surgery with thin corneas could compromise outcomes and possibly result in vision deterioration. As it doesn’t involve making a flap like LASIK, the new ReLEx SMILE treatment may offer an alternative in such cases.
Your pupil size: If your pupils are unusually large, having LASIK could increase your risk of experiencing side effects such as glares and halos. This is why undergoing adequate pupilometry testing in the screening phase is paramount.
Your age: Due to age-related eye changes, Laser Eye Surgery is not recommended for some people who can’t be guaranteed satisfactory long-term results. However, in this case, there may be other options such as PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision which are better suited.
If you are pregnant or lactating: As well as the fact that hormonal shifts during pregnancy can cause your prescription to fluctuate and trigger dry eye symptoms, medications used during and after the treatment may pose a risk to your child. For these reasons, it’s advised to wait until several months after pregnancy and lactation to have the treatment.
Your overall eye health: As well as any underlying conditions you may have, your day-to-day health is important to your suitability for Laser Eye Surgery. For instance, if you suffer from dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, or cataracts. There are several eye conditions that can impact your suitability:
- Blepharitis (eye infections): Your eyes need to be clear of infection.
- Increased internal eye pressure: eye pressure needs to be under control.
- Epilepsy, MS: Depending on the status of the condition.
- Diabetes: Okay if well controlled with healthy retinas.
- Very large pupils with high correction.
- Your prescription is low (under 0.75) and you do not have astigmatism.
- A squint or prism which is not corrected by contact lenses
- Corneal dystrophy
- Herpes of the eye
- Blindness in one eye or partial sightedness
Your general health: As well as having good eye health, it’s also important to have good general health. For example, you may not be suitable for Laser Eye Surgery if you suffer from:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis, SLE, Lupus
- Macular degeneration
- Crohn’s or collagen disease
- Optic nerve damage
If you fall under any of the categories listed above, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely unsuitable. There’s typically no hard and fast line. But in general, the better and more stable your health, the greater your the chances of being be a good candidate.
Does my prescription fall within the treatable range?
With the health bases covered, you can now discover if your prescription falls within the treatable range.
To qualify for LASIK, your prescription needs to meet the following criteria:
- Up to -8.0 diopters of nearsightedness, or
- Up to -3.0 diopters of astigmatism, or
- Up to -9.0 diopters nearsightedness with astigmatism; and,
- The amount of nearsightedness with or without astigmatism in your eye did not change by more than 0.5 diopters during the year before your pre-operation examination.
If your prescription goes beyond these levels, then many clinics would simply rule Laser Eye Surgery out as an option for you. They may suggest lens surgery such as implantable contacts as an alternative. However, at high-quality Laser Eye Surgery clinics, there may still be other treatments available.
What if your prescription is not suitable for Laser Eye Surgery?
Generally speaking, Laser Eye Surgery can only correct prescriptions up to a maximum of between -8 and -10. This is because the higher the prescription, the more tissue needs to be removed to correct it.
The cornea has a limited amount of tissue, and so it needs to be thick enough to allow such “high profile treatments” to take place. Most people simply don’t have thick enough corneas to allow the necessary reshaping, and as a result, they’re unsuitable for the traditional LASIK treatment.
However, today, LASIK is only one of a number of options available. For example, when it comes to treating presbyopia there is PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision. And when it comes to treating high prescriptions, at least at London Vision Clinic, there is the revolutionary ReLEx SMILE treatment.
SMILE can treat people with prescriptions of higher than -10 as well as those who also have thinner corneas. As mentioned earlier, the main reason is that SMILE doesn’t require there to be a flap in the corneal surface as it uses an advanced one-step technique using a femtosecond laser for the whole procedure.
In other words, even though you may appear unsuitable for one treatment according to one clinic, there is often other options to consider before ruling out Laser Eye Surgery for good.
Find out if you are a good candidate for Laser Eye Surgery by contacting one of our friendly clinic coordinators or visiting us for your no-obligation consultation.