Do You Still Need Eye Exams After LASIK?
Do I need to keep seeing my eye doctor after LASIK?
A laser vision correction procedure like LASIK can correct your prescription for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, reducing and sometimes completely eliminating your need for glasses or contacts.
LASIK is a fantastic option for seeing better and living life a little easier. So, now that you have better vision with LASIK, you might be thinking you can start skipping those annual eye exams.
And that’s where you are wrong. Just because you’ve corrected your vision, doesn’t mean you no longer have to take care of your eyes.
Like the rest of your body, your eyes are part of your overall health and there can be issues beyond what LASIK “fixed.”
Why are eye exams important?
Some of the first signs of diseases such as thyroid disease, high blood pressure, auto-immune conditions, and diabetes can show up in an eye exam. Isn’t that reason enough to make those eye appointments?
Even so, there are also several common eye conditions — many unrelated to your vision correction procedure — that you should continue to be screened and evaluated for by your ophthalmologist. These include:
Anyone can develop glaucoma, particularly those with a family history. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which can lead to loss of vision and even blindness. It can be caused by a number of factors, all of which have effective treatments. That said, there is no cure for glaucoma and any vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored.
Early detection — often from an annual eye exam — is essential as treatment can help manage the disease and prevent significant vision loss.
Several factors can contribute to cataracts forming: age, smoking, diabetes, long-term exposure to UV (sunlight), and medications such as corticosteroids.
Cataracts — the clouding of the lens of the eye — are generally thought to be a sign of old age, but in fact, people can develop cataracts in their 40s and 50s ss part of the natural aging process. Cataract development is often monitored over time and treated with surgery once the visual impairment can no longer be tolerated.
Other age-related eye conditions:
Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the center of the retina, causing loss of vision in the center of your vision that spreads over time. Most eye doctors routinely screen for this at annual eye exams.
The risk for macular degeneration increases with time — typically after the age of 55 — and early detection is essential for preserving vision as long as possible.
Presbyopia — a loss of sharp focus that begins after age 45 — may also be on your eye doctor’s radar. If it occurs, your doctor may prescribe reading glasses.
Most people have tiny, dark specks, strands, or squiggles floating around in their field of vision. These flecks are caused by a thickening of the vitreous fluid in the eye that cast shadows onto the retina (the organ that gives you sight)
Like other conditions, floaters are part of the natural aging process. People who are (or were) nearsighted, have diabetes, or have had cataract surgery have a higher chance for floaters. Most people learn to ignore them, but there are treatment options if they significantly impact vision.
However, sometimes floaters can be an indication of something more serious such as a retinal detachment (see below).
Posterior Vitreous Detachment:
The inside of your eye is filled with vitreous — a thick fluid that fills the eye, helping it keep its round shape. That fluid has millions of fibers attached to the retina at the back of the eye. Over time, the vitreous shrinks and the fibers pull away from the retina and break. This detachment causes floaters.
Posterior Vitreous Detachment is common and is part of the natural aging process. Most people over the age of 50, or who are (or were) significantly nearsighted, are affected. It’s not sight-threatening and doesn’t require treatment.
A sudden increase in floaters, a loss of peripheral (side) vision, and/or light flashes are all symptoms of a retinal detachment — which is serious and possibly sight threatening. Emergency treatment is required for successful treatment.
Those with high or degenerative nearsightedness are at risk, as are those with a family or health history of retinal detachment. Cataract surgery, eye injury and some other eye diseases and disorders are associated with retinal detachment. If you suspect you have a retinal detachment you need to see your ophthalmologist immediately.
(source: American Refractive Surgery Council)