Do Cataracts Grow Back After LASIK Surgery?

Lasik and CataractsDo you have a history of cataracts? Are you considering LASIK surgery? If you have cataracts (or are at risk for cataracts) you should be aware that LASIK can sometimes increase the risk of cataracts. LASIK surgery can also complicate future cataract treatment should the need for this type of eye surgery present down the road. Before LASIK talk with your doctor about any concerns and medical conditions you may have. LASIK surgery and cataract surgery are different; one or both may be a good choice for treating your vision problems.

LASIK Surgery is Not the Same as Cataract Surgery
Many people mistakenly assume that LASIK surgery and cataract surgery are the same. It is important to note that these are two entirely different procedures. If you have cataracts, LASIK will not treat them. LASIK is performed on the front surface of the eye (also called the cornea) while cataract surgery replaces the lens.

While both LASIK surgery and cataract surgery correct vision problems, they achieve this differently and are designed to treat two different conditions. LASIK is primarily used to correct focusing disorders like farsightedness or nearsightedness. This is done by reshaping the eye. Some doctors may perform LASIK on those with slight cataracts, but this may not be optimal as the results may be short lived and a second surgery will be required when the cataract grows.

Does LASIK Cause Cataracts?
You may have heard that LASIK eye surgery causes cataracts. Some people believe that LASIK eye surgery can cause the onset or progression of cataracts. While some suggest that LASIK caused the cataracts, the general belief is that LASIK is not responsible for causing cataracts. The surgery is performed on the cornea, not the lens. The steroid eye drops used for the treatment have been shown to increase the risk of cataracts, but only with long term use. Most patients that use the steroid eye drops for a short period of time (usually a month or less with LASIK) will not have any problems from the eye drops.
In fact LASIK can be used even after cataract surgery. Some doctors will use LASIK after cataract surgery to improve results and “tune up” vision. The decision of whether or not LASIK will be a benefit is one that must be carefully considered in consultation with your eye doctor.

Do Steroids Cause Cataracts?
It has long been understood that prolonged steroid use (taken both orally and in the eye) can increase the risk of cataracts. While cataracts are typically only seen in older people, they are much more common in younger people that have been using steroid drugs like Prednisone. Steroid induced cataracts are a permanent condition. They will not resolve themselves and will require surgical treatment. Age, previous eye surgeries and even medications can also increase your cataract risk.

LASIK After Cataracts
In some cases LASIK surgery may make cataract surgery more difficult. Although the two treatments focus on different parts of the eye, cataract surgery implants a special lens into the eye; since the eye is reshaped during LASIK, special care must be taken to select an appropriate lens. Special care must be made to calculate the correct lens power. Your doctor will need access to your medical records and eye prescriptions both before and after LASIK to determine which lens is needed. The outcome for your cataract treatment may not be as predictable or as straightforward as for someone who has not had LASIK.

Is LASIK an Option for Cataracts?
If you have cataracts, LASIK isn’t the right treatment for you. Instead talk with your doctor about cataract surgery. The two treatments are different. Many people confuse LASIK with cataract surgery. If you’ve had cataract surgery, but still want LASIK, talk with your doctor about your options. LASIK may still be a possibility and may even enhance your results after your cataract surgery.

If you are at risk for cataracts, consider talking with your doctor about LASIK and its risks. After a thorough eye examination your doctor can determine if LASIK is a good choice for correcting your eyesight.

What are you concerns about LASIK surgery? What positives do you hope to obtain from treatment?

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