Are You a Candidate for Refractive Eye Surgery?

Vision-correction surgery may make life easier, but first you must be eligible

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients who wish to undergo elective refractive eye surgery must meet a number of criteria before they can be considered for the procedure.

Refractive eye surgery covers a broad crosssection of procedures used to improve vision and decrease or eliminate dependency on glasses or contact lenses.

Prospective patients must be at least 18 years old, have healthy eyes with a stable eyeglass prescription for at least one year and have vision within the correctable, treatable range. And that's just for starters.

Patients, in most cases, also must not have a history of eye disease (including glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, among others); be pregnant or nursing; have a history of autoimmune disease (including multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Graves' disease, among others); or take a prescription medication that could affect corneal healing or vision.

Now, if that hasn't ruled you out as a prospective refractive-surgery candidate, acquaint yourself with the possible risks and side effects associated with the surgery.

Typical side effects include: visual aberrations (most commonly, halos and starbursts appearing around lights at night); dry eye; discomfort or irritation; sensitivity to light; under- or over-correction.

Less typical to rare side effects include: loss of best-corrected vision (meaning the surgery did not make you see as well as your eyeglass or contact prescription did); infection of inflammation of the eye following surgery; and corneal scarring.

Perhaps the biggest part of your refractive surgery success lies with your understanding and expectations of the procedure and knowing the risks involved. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 14, 2011
Last Updated:
January 19, 2011