Preexisting Medical Conditions and LASIK Surgery
There are a number of things that can affect the outcome of your LASIK surgery, including other medical conditions that you may have, and the prescription medications you are taking for them. Read on to find out which common conditions could negatively affect your refractive surgery.
Acne itself does not cause any problems during LASIK surgery, but some acne medications may cause complications. Isotretinoin (brand name: Accutane) can cause dry eye, which may interfere with your surgery and comfort afterwards. You may need to stop taking this medication for a while before and after surgery to prevent any harmful effects.
Allergies and asthma
Asthma is not a problem during LASIK, but some asthma medications may be. If you are taking antihistamines for your allergies, these can cause dry eye as a side effect, which can cause LASIK complications. Steroids can cause increased pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure) and can also interfere with the healing process after surgery. If you are taking either of these types of medications, be sure to mention this to your LASIK surgeon.
If you are taking immunosuppressant drugs to manage your condition, this can interfere with the healing process after your surgery and may cause complications.
If you are developing cataracts, LASIK may not be the right choice for you. When your cataracts progress further, your cloudy natural lens will need to be replaced with an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL). Refractive surgery changes the shape of the eye, and can make it very difficult for cataract surgeons to determine the correct intraocular lens power for you. Speak with your eye doctor and surgeon to find out if other vision correction options might be better for you.
Some antidepressants can cause dry eye as a side effect, which can interfere with LASIK surgery. These medications may also cause large pupils, which can result in vision problems after LASIK such halos, glare, and trouble seeing at night.
There are a number of concerns regarding refractive surgery on diabetics. One problem is that blood-sugar fluctuation can cause changes in vision. This isn't a major concern with eyeglasses, as the patient can always get a new prescription when necessary, but with a permanent vision correction like LASIK, vision changes are more problematic. LASIK usually isn't recommended for anyone with an unstable prescription.
Diabetics are also at risk for a condition called diabetic retinopathy. If you have this condition, refractive surgery may not be right for you. During surgery, suction is applied to the eye which increases the intraocular pressure. This increased pressure inside the eye can cause further damage for patients with diabetic retinopathy.
Slow-healing is another common problem with diabetes, and can cause problems after surgery. Corneal abnormalities in diabetics may also result in post-surgical defects. At least one study has shown that diabetics have an increased risk of complications after LASIK surgery, so diabetes is definitely something that should be discussed with your surgeon before any final decisions are made.
Erectile dysfunction does not directly affect LASIK outcome, but medications such as Viagra can cause eye-related side effects, including blurred vision, light sensitivity, double vision, decreased vision, abnormal color vision, as well as swelling, redness, swelling, and bleeding of the eyes. As you can imagine, this can make it difficult, if not impossible, for your surgeon to evaluate the health of your eyes and your vision before and after surgery. If you're planning to have refractive surgery, you should discuss this medication with your doctor beforehand, and be prepared to go without it for a period of time before and following surgery.
Eye injuries or previous surgery
If you have had any eye injuries or eye surgery in the past, you may be ineligible for LASIK or other types of refractive surgery. Be sure to mention any previous eye conditions to your doctor and surgeon.
Patients with glaucoma are advised to avoid anything that could further increase the pressure inside their eyes. Unfortunately, this includes LASIK and many other types of refractive surgery, because suction applied during the procedure raises intraocular pressure. However, you may be eligible for certain types of surgery. Speak with your eye doctor to find out what options may be available for you.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Medications frequently prescribed for hypertension, including diuretics and beta blockers, can cause dry eye as a side effect. This can cause complications during LASIK and other refractive surgeries.
Pregnant or nursing women
Women who are nursing, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant within the next six months, should avoid refractive surgery. Hormonal changes can cause vision changes, and LASIK is not recommended for anyone with an unstable prescription.
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