Ask the LASIK Surgeon
Do you have a question about LASIK? We've posted lots of Q&As about LASIK and other refractive surgeries below. All were answered by Andrew Caster, MD.
Dr. Caster dedicates his practice Caster Eye Center in Beverly Hills, Calif. exclusively to laser vision correction. He has been chosen by Los Angeles Magazine as the "Best Laser Eye Surgeon in Los Angeles," chosen by W Magazine as one of two top LASIK surgeons in the United States and voted by other physicians as one of the "Best Doctors in America."
He is well known throughout the United States for his achievements in LASIK treatment and has performed more than 30,000 laser vision correction procedures.
To find the Q&As most helpful to you, please click on one of these subjects:
- LASIK and High Myopia, Hyperopia or Astigmatism
- LASIK and Age Limitations
- LASIK and Eye Conditions, Allergies and Other Health Conditions
- LASIK and Presbyopia
- LASIK After Other Eye Procedures, Including Laser Eye Surgery, Cataract Surgery and Corneal Transplant
- Laser Eye Surgery and Pregnancy
- LASIK and Higher Order Aberrations
- LASIK Exam and Preparing for LASIK
- During the LASIK Procedure
- Length of Downtime After Surgery
- LASIK Risks and Complications
- PRK and RK Eye Surgery
- Which Laser Eye Surgery Is Best for Me?
LASIK and High Myopia, Hyperopia or Astigmatism
Q: I wear contacts. My left eye is -7.50D, and my right eye is now -8.50D. Do I qualify for laser eye surgery, or is my prescription too high? V.
A: You qualify based on your prescription. Actually, much stronger prescriptions can be treated. Dr. Caster
Q: I am severely nearsighted in my left eye. If I got LASIK, would that correct it enough so that I could see with glasses or a contact? I can see out of it, but it is extremely blurry, to the point where the right eye utterly eclipses it. M.C.
A: I don't have enough information to answer your question. You should see a LASIK specialist to determine if you are a candidate. Dr. Caster
Q: I had surgery as an infant to correct my crossed eye, and my left eye is still lazy (but looks fine with glasses on). I also have astigmatism.
My current prescription is: right eye +2.75D +3.5 070; left eye +4.25D +3.0 104. I was told several years ago that I'm not a good LASIK candidate. Have advancements in the technology changed this at all, or am I still not a good fit? J.
A: Your prescription is higher than the amount that is correctable with LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: My son has "irregular astigmatism." He is in the police academy and will have to quit if we cannot find a way to fix his uncorrected vision of 20/70 and 20/90 to at least 20/60 or better.
The one doctor we consulted with in our town would not do the surgery. Is it impossible to fix his irregular astigmatism with LASIK? Will he have to give up his dream? K.
A: I doubt that he will have to give up his dream. Please consult a LASIK specialist; you may have to travel to do so. Dr. Caster
Q: Does LASIK surgery successfully correct severe astigmatism? About five years ago I was told that I was not a candidate because my astigmatism was too bad. Now I am told that blade-free, all-laser Z-LASIK can correct my problem. Should I have the surgery? T.L.
A: LASIK can correct very successfully up to about 6 diopters of astigmatism. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 35 and have been wearing contacts/glasses for the past 25 years. I have really bad eyes. I am nearsighted and have astigmatism. I am wondering if I would be a good candidate for LASIK.
My current contact lens prescription is: left eye -7.00D -2.25 cyl 010 axis; right eye -7.00D -1.75 cyl 180 axis. W.
A: You are probably a candidate for LASIK. Complete evaluation is needed. Dr. Caster
Q: Can corrective eye treatment work if you have a prescription of +7 D? And if so, would it be laser trestment or another type? P.
A: Lens replacement is typically the treatment of choice for a prescription of +7 D. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 42. I have a -9.5 D prescription, and my corneal thickness is 510. I've worn contact lenses most of the time for 20 years now and wear glasses at night and days off.
- What is iLASIK? Don't get laser surgery until you learn about this new procedure
- The LASIK experience: learn what happens before, during and after laser eye surgery
- Save up to $500 on LASIK when you become a VSP member
I don't like how I look with glasses and want to have laser surgery. I wouldn't mind wearing glasses -2 D or so to lose less corneal tissue with the surgery.
Is this a good idea? Or should I have a full-correction vision surgery? Is LASIK or PRK more advisable? L.B.
A: PRK would probably be the better option for you, and you should be able to get a full or close to a full correction. Dr. Caster
Q: I am curious if I would be a candidate for any type of refractive eye surgery. I believe I have hyperopia with astigmatism. My current prescription reads: right: +3.75D -1.50 x 161; left: +5.75D -1.75 x 004.
I am aware that I will most likely never see 20/20, but I am wondering if 20/40 would ever be a possibilty? J.
A: You may be able to have lens replacement treatment. LASIK could probably correct your distance vision fully in the right eye; but it would be a stretch to use LASIK to get a 100 percent correction in the left eye. Dr. Caster
Q: My son is 14-1/2, and his vision has been steady for the last couple of years. He has a +8.25 prescription in both eyes. He really wants surgery to help him see better to play sports.
What surgery would you recommend, and would he be able to have it? S.
A: Unfortunately, there is no surgery for your teenage son. Hopefully he can wear contact lenses. Dr. Caster
Q: I am severely nearsighted in my left eye and was wondering if I got LASIK, could it correct my vision enough so that I could see with glasses or a contact lens?
I can see out of the left eye, but it is extremely blurry, to the point where the right eye utterly eclipses it. M.C.
A: I don't have enough information to answer your question. You should see a LASIK specialist to determine if you are a candidate. Dr. Caster
Q: I had surgery as an infant to correct my crossed eye, and my left eye is still lazy (but looks fine with glasses on). I also have astigmatism.
My current Rx is: right: +2.75D +3.5 070; left: +4.25D +3.0 104. I was told several years ago that I'm not a good LASIK candidate. Have advancements in the technology changed this at all, or am I still not a good fit? J.
A: Your prescription is higher than the amount that is correctable with LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: I wear contacts. My left eye is -7.50, and my right eye is now -8.50. Do I qualify to get laser eye surgery, or is my prescription too high? V.
A: You qualify based on your prescription. Actually, much stronger prescriptions can be treated. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 16 with a vision prescription of -15.00. I'm aware that LASIK can be done only after my eyes have stopped changing and growing.
I've been wearing my glasses for 12 years and rigid gas permeable contact lenses for two years. My prescription seems to have maintained at this level for a year. If my eyes have stopped changing, can LASIK be done? Even if the maximum prescription requirement is below my eye prescription? Maybe decrease it from -15.00 to -2.00? K.
A: The maximum treatment that LASIK can achieve depends on several factors, most importantly the thickness of your cornea. Doctors differ on the maximum amount of treatment they will perform. For me, the maximum is around -12.00. That would represent a very significant but not complete improvement in your vision.
Another technique to very seriously consider is phakic intraocular implant, whcih could possibly provide a complete correction for you. Dr. Caster
Q: I am a 49-year-old female. I wore very thick lenses beginning at about 2 or 3 years old, until the age of 16 when I got hard contact lenses. I now wear gas permeable lenses, and I can't seem to get any glasses anymore that make my vision good enough to function daily with.
I am having difficulty getting good vision with these contacts and have been wearing glasses over them. I saw a LASIK doctor about 10-15 years ago who said I did not have enough tissue to work with.
I was wondering if enough progress has been made in eye surgery procedures that I could be considered a candidate now. L.B.
A: There have been considerable advances, so I would definitely recommend that you get another evaluation. Dr. Caster
Q: I've been wearing glasses since I was very young and have a high prescription. I frankly can't see without them. Can LASIK help restore my vision? I'm not saying it will give me perfect vision, but just help reduce my dependence on glasses. If LASIK can't do that, is there any other thing that can be done? S.G.
A: LASIK improves vision to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses. You will need to have an evaluation to determine if you are a candidate. Dr. Caster
A: Laser vision correction is not appropriate for all refractive errors, and doctors differ in what they consider the maximum amount of myopia, or nearsightedness, that should be treated.
Some doctors consider -8 D to be the maximum, but in the United States the FDA has approved LASIK to treat up to -12 D.
Some patients with myopia of -10.5 D may choose to have an implantable lens (known as a phakic IOL) placed inside their eye as an alternative to LASIK.
The same complications are possible for a -10.5 D myope as for any other patient undergoing LASIK surgery. However, there will be a higher chance of needing a LASIK enhancement a second, fine-tuning procedure to obtain the best possible vision. Dr. Caster
Q: Is there a maximum number/power, above which a laser operation is not preferable? P.S.
A: The maximum treatment varies, based on several important factors, most prominently the thickness of the cornea. Different doctors have different criteria that they use when determining maximum treatment. For some doctors, 8 diopters of nearsightedness is the maximum, while others feel comfortable treating up to 12 or 14 diopters. Dr. Caster
Q: I have hyperopia (farsightedness) of +6.5 D in my right eye and +7 D in my left eye. Also, I have a "lazy" left eye from childhood. Can you advise whether I'd be a suitable candidate for LASIK surgery? And does my lazy eye prevent the surgery? S.
A: I would advise against having LASIK surgery in your particular situation. The maximum amount of hyperopia that is approved for LASIK treatment by the FDA is +6 D, but many doctors choose +3 or +4 D as the maximum they treat. Some of the laser machines are a little better than others at treating the +4 to +6 range.
Depending on your age, refractive lens exchange, or clear lens replacement, may be a suitable surgical alternative.
Lazy eye, referred to medically as amblyopia, can prevent a person from being a LASIK candidate, but it depends on the degree of "laziness." Dr. Caster
Q: I have farsightedness, with +6.5 D in my left eye and +2.0 D in my right eye. The research I've done up till now says that I am not a candidate for LASIK. I want your expert opinion on that. Is there any kind of laser surgery that can treat +6.5 D and help me get rid of glasses? A.
A: A prescription of +6.5 D is beyond the range that can be corrected with LASIK. For some people in this range of farsightedness, a clear lens extraction may be a viable option. I recommend that you look into that option. Dr. Caster
Q: I have -4.25 D of astigmatism in my right eye, while my left eye is perfect. I went for a consultation, and my corneas are of very good thickness and well shaped for surgery.
However, my doctor told me that I was borderline for the procedure since my astigmatism was so high. Even if I have the surgery, my right eye will not be nearly as good as my left eye and might have to go through an additional surgery.
On the Internet I was reading that LASIK can be used to treat astigmatism up to 6.00 D, and some people report perfect results after one surgery. What is your expert opinion? A.M.
A: LASIK can treat up to six diopters of astigmatism, depending on the technology used. Dr. Caster
Q: I have worn glasses with a prescription of -7 D for the past 13 years. Would LASIK surgery be safe for me? My eye doctor has screened me for LASIK using the Allegretto wavefront-guided laser. I'm concerned that LASIK surgery may affect my professional life (I am a software engineer) and night vision. K.J.
A: Your situation is well within the range that the Allegretto technology system is used for, and with excellent results. Night vision can be adversely affected during the initial healing period (up to three months), but thereafter night vision is typically better than it was with glasses or contact lenses. Dr. Caster
Q: Can laser surgery produce a farsighted outcome? My left eye is -0.25/-1.75 and my right is +1.50/-0.25. I would like to match my left to my right, while also removing any astigmatism in both. Is this possible? E.S.
A: Yes, laser vision correction can correct nearsightedness or farsightedness, as well as astigmatism associated with either. So your eyes could be matched. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 20 years old and I have a high congenital myopia of -11 D. Am I a suitable candidate for LASIK surgery? Will I develop a cataract due to this surgery? J.
A: You may or may not be a candidate, depending on a host of other factors. A consultation is needed with your eye surgeon. Dr. Caster
Q: I have astigmatism. Can I still have LASIK surgery? T.
A: Yes, LASIK is very good at correcting astigmatism. Dr. Caster
Q: I have farsighted astigmatism in both eyes. My left eye is considerably better than my right eye; my right eye can't read very well unless the font is really large. Is this because of the astigmatism or something else?
If I were to get LASIK eye surgery, would my eyes be "balanced," i.e., would this bring my right eye up to the same level as my left? M.
A: If the right eye is healthy, correcting the farsighted astigmatism would improve the vision, presumably to the level of the other eye. Dr. Caster
Q: Can LASIK eye surgery correct astigmatism, or would eyeglasses still be needed? T.B.
A: LASIK corrects astigmatism. Most people who have LASIK have some astigmatism and they do not wear distance glasses or contact lenses afterwards. Dr. Caster
Q: I am legally blind in my left eye. Is it possible for LASIK surgery to help with getting my vision somewhat able to see out of that eye? I do wear glasses at this time and have a cataract in my right eye. S.D.
A: Legal blindness means that even with the best glasses or contacts an eye cannot see better than 20/200. Many people do not use this term properly. If, however, the eye is legally blind in this accurate sense, then LASIK cannot help. Dr. Caster
Q: I want to go for LASIK surgery to avoid wearing my eyeglasses, but I am not sure whether I am eligible for LASIK or not. My eyesight is: right eye -0.75 sph -0.75 cyl 100 axis; left eye -0.75 sph -0.75 cyl 80 axis. R.B.
A: Your prescription is fine for LASIK. You should be able to get rid of your distance glasses. Dr. Caster
LASIK and Age Limitations
Q: I have needed glasses since I was about 7. I have been wearing contacts since 5th grade. I have been intrigued by the idea of LASIK eye correction since I heard about it. I am set on having the procedure, but I need some advice.
I want the procedure as soon as possible. I will be 19 in two months. Is that too young?
My prescription is -3.5D and has not changed in more than two years. I am sick of glasses and contacts and cannot wait to wake up without blurriness or searching for glasses.
Also, I would like to know the average cost and recovery time. Rumors are that the procedure needs to be "redone" every five years. Is that true? G.M.
A: If your eyes have not changed in two years, then you are probably a good candidate for LASIK. You will need to have LASIK in the future only if your eyes start changing again, which is unlikely. Dr. Caster
Q: I was told years ago that before I would be a suitable candidate for LASIK, my vision would need to stop degenerating. Is this still true? My vision is very poor, and it gets a little worse every single year. I am 28. C.
A: It really depends on the speed with which your vision is changing. LASIK will not stop your eyes from changing. If they are changing very slowly, you might choose to have the treatment, knowing that you might need an enhancement in future years if over time the eyes have shifted a significant amount. Dr. Caster
Q: I am pursuing a career in the military, and my specific field would require me to have corrective surgery. I have 20/25 vision. I know they say there is no set age for the surgery, but it's usually only 18+. Is there any way it could be performed on a 17-year-old with parental consent? J.G.
A: The treatment can be performed prior to age 18 with parental consent. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 19 and have been wearing glasses since I was 14. My prescription is -1.5D in each eye, and over the past two years my prescription has worsened by only -.25.
Should I make an appointment to talk about LASIK, or am I too young? Z.L.
A: Wait one more year to make sure that your eyes are not changing anymore. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 16 years old, and I've been wearing contacts since I was 11. At age 14 I began getting really bad eye infections all the time, and I still do. My eyes became significantly worse since then, and they always seem to be red and itchy.
I wear my glasses when I need to, but they give me big headaches, and I don't like them. I've been considering getting LASIK eye surgery a year from now. I'm wondering if it would be successful and my eyes won't get any worse after that. Currently my prescription is -5D and -5.25D. J.H.
A: LASIK will not stop your eyes from changing. If you have the treatment and your eyes change afterwards, you will then need to wear thin glasses or contacts, or have a repeat treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 20.5 years old. Why do I have to be exactly 21 to receive PRK? I am old enough to serve my country (which I am) and have a family, but I can't choose what to do with my own eyes? B.
A: You do not have to be exactly 21 to have PRK. In fact, the FDA approval is for people 18 or older, but it is even possible to have the treatment when you are younger than 18.
The important factor is whether you are still growing and your vision is still changing. If so, it might be unwise to have the treatment before your eyes have stopped changing, because if they continue to change you might then need further treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm thinking of getting laser eye surgery. I have been wearing glasses all my life. I am 18 years old, and if I recall properly my left eye is -5D and right eye is -4.75D. At what age do you suggest I have this treatment to correct my vision? L.
A: I suggest that you wait until your prescription has more or less stabilized. Often this occurs by age 18, but sometimes not for a few more years. Dr. Caster
Q: Can a person of my age (62) benefit from laser eye surgery? I use glasses for distance, and I do understand that I would still need reading glasses for near vision. S.T.
A: Many people your age get laser vision correction. Other options, such as lens replacement, are also available. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 62 and have bifocals. Am I too old for LASIK? I don't want to wear glasses all the time. D.B.
A: You are certainly not too old for LASIK! Dr. Caster
Q: I am 19 years old and have been wearing glasses since I was 14. My prescription is -1.5 in each eye, and over the past two years my prescription has worsened only by -.25. Should I make an appointment to talk about LASIK, or am I too young? Z.L.
A: Wait one more year to make sure that your vision is not changing anymore. Dr. Caster
Q: I have a daughter who is 14 and has been wearing glasses since she was 7. She plays sports, and she is getting tired of wearing glasses.
Her right eye is -6 with -2 cylinder, and her left eye is -5.75 with -3 cylinder. Every year it is getting worse and worse. Should she get LASIK surgery, or should we just wait until her prescription settles?
Also, I have heard that there are contact lenses that help reduce the prescription. Is this true? And do glasses or contacts worsen the eyes quicker? M.
A: It's best to wait to have treatment until her eyes have stopped changing. Most people wait until the age of 18, to be sure their eyes are not still changing, and many need to wait several years more.
Glasses and contacts do not worsen the situation. It is questionable whether gas permeable contacts would slow the progression. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 34, and my vision gets worse every year. Will LASIK stop my eyes from getting worse? Or is there a good chance I will be back in contact lenses after the surgery? Why? D.
A: LASIK will not stop your eyes from changing. So you should wait until your eyes stop changing. Otherwise, you might have a successful treatment and then have to go back into glasses if your eyes keep changing. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 20 years old and have been wanting to get LASIK eye surgery for years. Every year my eyesight gets worse, and it's been doing this since I was 11 years old. When would be the appropriate time to get the surgery?
I cannot see without glasses or contacts, and I fear if I don't get the surgery I will end up going blind. I have been told by an eye doctor that they won't even consider it until you're at least 25, but everything I'm reading here says different, so I am confused. B.
A: The age does not matter. Also, LASIK does not stop your eyes from getting worse. What matters is whether the eyesight is stable not changing.
If you have LASIK and your eyes are still changing, you will be fine for a while, but then as the eyes change you will want to have LASIK again to fix your vision further. So we typically recommend that you wait until your eyes have stopped changing, which can happen at 18 or sometimes not until 25 years of age. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 17 years old. I'm also enlisted in the Marine Corps and was wondering if it is at all possible for me to receive this surgery before I leave for basic training in July [six months from now]. L.J.
A: If your vision has been stable for a least a year, then you may be a candidate for treatment. I am sure that it can be arranged according to your schedule. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 15 years old. Could I get LASIK eye surgery? Why is LASIK not performed in younger children? L.
A: We want to wait until the eyes stop changing before performing LASIK. Otherwise, if the eyes are still progressing into greater nearsightedness, the patient will be back in glasses. Typically, the eyes stop changing by the later teenage years. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 74 years old and nearsighted. Am I too old for LASIK? J.S.
A: You are not physically too old. As they say, you are psychologically as old as you feel. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 45 years old. Is it worth getting LASIK? Are there long-term effects? R.
A: It is worth getting LASIK if you want to be able to function without distance glasses or contact lenses. Of course, an individual evaluation is needed. Consideration is needed regarding your upcoming presbyopia, which means loss of near vision associated with age, and which occurs whether or not you have LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 77 and in excellent heath, with just the beginning of cataracts. Assuming I can have whatever cataract treatment I need beforehand, would my age preclude me from LASIK surgery? My current lens prescription is: SPH +0.75, CYL -1.00, AXI 105, ADD +2.75; SPH +1.00, CYL -1.00, AXI 105, ADD +2.75. R.C.
A: Your age does not preclude you from LASIK, should it be needed after your cataract treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: What is the oldest age at which I could consider LASIK surgery? Also, would it be advisable if had beginning cataracts? A.W.
A: Generally, if your glasses or contact lens prescription is stable and your eyes are healthy, you likely are a good candidate for laser vision correction. You can have LASIK if you have mild cataracts, but thoroughly discuss the risk of your cataracts worsening with your surgeon before you proceed. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 18, and I've had glasses since I was in kindergarten. I don't mind wearing my glasses I look fine. I don't always want to, but they're needed. I've worn contacts before, but they're truly not for me. In essence, what is the exact age most eyes stop developing, because I would LOVE to have LASIK surgery. A.M.
A: For most people who have nearsighted eyes, their vision will stop worsening sometime between the ages of 16 and 22. Once the eyes stop worsening, they typically remain stable. We want to see two years of stability to feel comfortable that the growth phase is over. Dr. Caster
Q: My 3-year-old son has amblyopia and esotropia. Is he or will he be a candidate for LASIK? Also, at what age is the earliest that we are able to perform LASIK surgery if he is a candidate? A.
A: LASIK will not cure amblyopia or esotropia. If the amblyopia is severe, then LASIK is not indicated at all. The youngest age is typically around 18. Dr. Caster
Q: I plan on having LASIK surgery when I turn 18, but I'm also enlisting in the Marines. Will my improved vision after LASIK be permanent? C.
A: LASIK does not stop the eyes from undergoing naturally occurring changes in the future. Most people who are nearsighted do not undergo much change after the age of 18, but some certainly do.
That is why most doctors will want the patient to have stable vision for one to two years before having LASIK, because those people are less likely to change afterward. If your eyes do change a little in the future, then you can have another LASIK treatment if you want to. Dr. Caster
Q: Would you recommend LASIK surgery when I turn 18? I'm currently 14 and wear bifocals. The prescription for my glasses, if I'm correct, are 2.5 top and 2.75 bottom. If my number doesn't change for two years, could I undergo LASIK? J.
A: We would, of course, have to see what your eyes are like when you are 18. But that might be a good time for treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I have only been wearing glasses for two years. I am a 27-year-old female in active duty military. Would you recommend getting PRK or LASIK surgery so soon? L.H.
A: I would recommend waiting at least another two years, to be sure that your vision has stabilized. Dr. Caster
Q: Can you perform LASIK surgery on a 6-year-old child? What are the possible complications that may result? A.M.
A: Laser vision correction is now being used in younger children on a very limited basis only for certain specific medical reasons.
In general, it is not used in people less than the later teenage years or early 20s because vision often does not stabilize until that stage in life. The other issue with younger children is cooperation, both during the treatment and recovery period. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 15 years old and my eyes have been stable at -4.25 D (left) and -4.50 D (right) for the past three years. Am I a good candidate for LASIK? K.
A: I would recommend waiting until you are 18 years old, which is the age that the FDA has set as its minimum approved age. It is not necessary to follow the FDA approved age limit, but I think it is wise to wait. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 64 years old. Am I still a candidate for LASIK surgery? I have heard that at my age I will still need glasses to read up-close. J.G.
A: Sixty-four is not too old for LASIK! (What would the Beatles have thought? They could have included a line about LASIK in their song, "When I'm 64.")
You can have both eyes adjusted for distance, and use reading glasses, or have one eye adjusted for distance and one for up-close reading. Dr. Caster
Q: Are there any risks at the age of 57 with LASIK surgery? I am nearsighted, with healthy eyes. W.M.
A: Your risks are the same as any other patient. The serious risks are exceedingly small. The more common risks include the need for a LASIK enhancement, temporary dryness and temporary increase in night halos. Dr. Caster
Q: I am interested in getting LASIK; however, the prescription in my left eye has yet to stabilize. It has been changing by 0.25 D every year for five years now. First, is it possible that my prescription in that eye will never stabilize? Second, I have heard/read that some eye surgeons are willing to do the procedure if your prescription has only been slightly changing. Is this true and, if so, how likely is the procedure to be successful? A.D.M.
A: LASIK will not stop the eyes from changing. So if your eyes change in the future, after your treatment, you will become a little nearsighted again. This can, of course, be corrected with another LASIK treatment. Typically, the eyes do stop changing, most commonly in the teenage years or early twenties. Dr. Caster
LASIK and Eye Conditions, Allergies and Other Health Conditions
Q: I have very poor eyesight, with a contact/glasses prescription of -5.5D in the right eye, which has astigmatism, and -6.5D in the left eye, which is what they call a "lazy eye."
I really hate my glasses, as they constantly slide off my face during outdoor activities. Contacts always become bothersome for me, even when I wear the Acuvue Oasis lenses. Plus contacts are outrageously expensive, even with eye care insurance.
Can I still qualify for LASIK surgery, with these criteria? D.P.
A: It depends on the degree of your "lazy eye." You will need to see a LASIK specialist to determine your eligibility. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK 10 years ago. It was successful, but I had issues with allergies and dry eye. I am 63 and seem to need glasses now for far away. Can I repeat LASIK, and will I experience the same allergy/dry eye issue again? And will my reading ability worsen? M.B.
A: You can have LASIK again. You will probably have issues with dryness/allergies, though we have better techniques to deal with that now. The effect on reading will depend upon your exact glasses prescription. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 21 and have astigmatism in both eyes as well as cataracts in both. Would I qualify for laser eye surgery, and would it be a complicated surgery? Would I also have to go to a specialist to have it done if I qualify? C.
A: LASIK should be performed by a LASIK specialist, and you need to be evaluated by a LASIK specialist. Whether you qualify or not for the procedure depends on how severe your cataracts are and whether they are stable or progressive. Dr. Caster
Q: Is there any type of LASIK surgery that is done on the retina? I have scar tissue, and doctors don't know how that happened, but it affects my vision. And it occurred only after I had a cataract removed. J.U.
A: There is no LASIK for the retina. Dr. Caster
Q: I have map dot dystrophy, severe astigmatism and significant myopia. Is it possible for me to have LASIK surgery and not exacerbate my dystrophy? J.
A: Laser vision correction is possible, but the PRK version is preferred. There can be prolonged healing problems with map dot dystrophy if the LASIK version is performed. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 37 years old, a law enforcement officer of 18 years and a commercial pilot. I was born with a disease called "optic nerve hypoplasia" in my left eye but see well in my right.
I would like to have LASIK done so I can get rid of my glasses. The glasses are to correct my astigmatism. I have spoken with a few surgeons who say they would do it because LASIK has become so much better than it used to be. I know there are still risks, but I would like to know your thoughts. J.H.
A: Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I still follow the rule that I will not perform LASIK on someone who can see well with glasses in only one eye.
The chance of a problem seriously affecting vision is very small, but I still do not want to take that risk with a person who can see in only one eye. Dr. Caster
Q: I wore glasses from age 8 to 14 and contact lenses from 14 until now (age 38). I am nearsighted with -6D in both eyes. I was told that I have a "stretched retina" and freckle in my left eye that has been there for a long time.
My eye doctor said that shouldn't prevent me from having LASIK. Your thoughts? S.
A: From what you have told me, you are a good candidate for LASIK. The stretched retina should be watched but does not affect the LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: My son is 25 and has had two brain aneurysms. The second one, about five years ago, left him with double vision. An eye doctor told us it was probably due to scar tissue on his brain from the surgeries.
I'm wondering if there is any LASIK surgery available that might help him? C.S.
A: Aneurysms can sometimes affect the muscles that control the eye alignment. I would visit a strabismus specialist for an evaluation. LASIK is not the solution. Dr. Caster
Q: I was born with nystagmus, and I am very nearsighted, with a prescription of -12.0 diopters in each eye. Am I a possible candidate for LASIK surgery? N.C.
A: Yes, you may be a candidate for LASIK surgery. Nystagmus is typically not a factor, and many doctors treat patients who are -12. Other types of surgery, such as phakic lens implants, are also a possibility. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 58 years old and have been a diabetic since 1997. My current FBS (fasting blood sugar) when I test each morning has ranged from 108 to 128 over the past three months. My last A1C was 7.6 four months ago.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery? I use the computer to do my job eight hours daily, five days per week. S.J.
A: Your suitability for laser vision correction as a diabetic would depend on the condition of your eyes. If there is only minimal impact from the diabetes, and the diabetes is under good control, then you would be suitable. Dr. Caster
Q: I have poor distance vision and some degree of astigmatism in one eye. I have tried many different contacts, and SynergEyes has been the best but still not great.
I believe some of my problem may be due to the CHOP chemo I underwent 10 years ago, as well as genetics from my mother's side of the family. Do you think I am a suitable candidate for LASIK surgery? D.
A: It is possible that you are a candidate for laser vision correction. You will need to be evaluated by a LASIK surgeon. Dr. Caster
Q: I have a few questions: First, I have a disorder called cone dystrophy (I have lost and damaged cone cells in my retina). Can I still get LASIK eye surgery?
Do I need to get LASIK surgery every year? Is it safe to have it more than once? What can I do after LASIK surgery to keep my vision in good shape? Here is my prescription: right: -0.75D -100 x 093; left: -1.25D -025 x 175. E.
A: I would not recommend laser vision correction for you, due to your condition. Dr. Caster
Q: My mom is legally blind. She lost her vision a couple years back. Is there any surgery that can get her vision back or at least to see objects? J.B.
A: Whether your mother's vision can be restored depends on the exact cause of her blindness. She would need to be examined by an eye surgeon. Dr. Caster
Q: Is there any reason to worry about having laser eye surgery on someone with mild chronic lymphocytic leukemia? I am needing no treatment for CLL. B.T.
A: With any surgery we worry about infection and healing. Infection is very, very rare with laser vision correction, and healing factors are only rarely affected by general health. So if you are stable and experiencing close to normal infection resistance and healing patterns, you should be able to have laser vision correction. I would discuss it with your hematologist. Dr. Caster
Q: Will my prior corneal injury of 33 years ago complicate LASIK surgery, as daily eye fatigue gives me the same scratched feeling as I had then? I do have dry eyes and have just started using lubricating eye drops. I am not adjusting well to progressive lenses, so I need to familiarize myself with options. A.K.
A: You will have to be examined to determine if your prior corneal injury will affect LASIK treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 30 and want to have laser surgery. I have about +3 and 2, if I am not mistaken. I have also a lazy eye on the left eye.
If I do the surgery, what chances have I got that I will not wear glasses again? Here in Malta this operation has been done for only the last two years, and therefore there are no long-term studies and information on it. Do you advise me to do it or not? C.M.
A: Laser treatment for people like you has been performed for around 15 years, and there are no significant long-term problems. The main problem is that the treatment can wear off partially, and thus further laser treatment may be needed when you are older.
Treatment is not recommended for people with severe lazy eye only mild to moderate cases. The treatment should eliminate your need for glasses. Dr. Caster
Q: I have been told I have dry eyes, but I do produce tears. It's just that the tear quality isn't good, as they dry up really quickly. Would laser surgery be good for me? My eyes are -4, I think.
Also, I can choose which eye to look out of, as I have a lazy eye. Would this make a difference? C.
A: The lazy eye is not a problem if you can see well out of either one. Fish oil pills can help greatly with the tear quality. Laser treatment can be performed unless the dryness is severe, though sometimes the PRK version is preferable in dry eye situations. Dr. Caster
Q: I have double vision and have a prism fitted in my glasses. Would laser surgery work for me? I am 53. V.C.
A: Laser surgery will not eliminate your need for prism. Dr. Caster
Q: I am nearsighted, have astigmatism, and have a prism in my eyeglass prescription. I have taken all the self-assessment questionnaires, and they indicate that I may be a candidate for LASIK surgery. I am wondering if the prism in my prescription would disqualify me. D.B.
A: It depends on how well you would do without the prism. We cannot create prism with LASIK. After treatment, you will not wear glasses, and therefore will not have prism.
Maybe the prism isn't really needed? Testing will answer that question. Dr. Caster
Q: I have had a lazy eye that turns in and causes me double vision since I was two years old. I have had muscle surgery to correct the problem, but my eye is still turned in without glasses or contacts. Can LASIK straighten my eye without glasses or contacts? G.L.
A: If glasses (without prism built in) or contact lenses cause your eye to straighten, then LASIK will do the same. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm only 27, and my eyes are -7 and -7.5. I have been wearing glasses for as long as I can remember. I wore contact lenses for about five years, and recently I was diagnosed with a visual alignment issue. I was told that I could not wear contact lenses anymore due to the recent discovery. Because of that diagnosis my new glasses have both bifocals and prisms.
Years ago I was told I would not be a good candidate for LASIK due to the severity of my eye problems, and my symptoms would come back in 20 years. Is this still the case? T.
A: LASIK can correct all of your vision problems except for the alignment problem. That requires prism glasses or eye muscle surgery. Dr. Caster
Q: I was diagnosed with dry eye and minor blepharitis and switched from contacts to glasses. Is it possible to get LASIK surgery under these conditions with positive results? M.P.
A: Yes. Dry eye and minor blepharitis are very common in the general population, and people with these conditions can have LASIK successfully. Very severe dry eye or severe blepharitis requires treatment of the condition before laser treatment and might prevent the laser treatments if the condition is too severe. Dr. Caster
Q: Is a COPD patient at high risk during laser eye surgery? C.R.
A: You must be able to lie on your back for five minutes in order to have laser eye treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when I was in the 4th grade. I am now 22 years old. Will PRK or LASIK surgery correct my vision in the same sense contacts or glasses do? With contacts my vision is able to get to 20/ 20 in my left eye and 20/15 in my right. I understand the procedure will not cure my disease, but can I be treated? D.O.
A: The treatment corrects your vision in the same sense that glasses or contacts do. Dr. Caster
Q: I tested positive on the PPD test [tuberculosis skin test]. I don't have TB. I am currently taking INH. Am I a good candidate for LASIK? B.S.
A: INH will not affect the LASIK treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I have von Willebrand disease, with an associated prolonged APTT (clotting time). When having dental surgery I must have DDAVP to normalize my bleeding risk. Would this be the same for LASIK? Is a bleeding disorder a contraindication for LASIK? S.
A: For people with bleeding disorders such as yours, I recommend the PRK version of laser vision correction. When this variation is used, there is no risk of bleeding. Dr. Caster
Q: Will having von Willebrand disease affect the healing process after the surgery? Also, will I be able to even have the surgery, since I have the disease? B.
A: Von Willebrand disease is a bleeding disorder. This precludes the LASIK version, but not the PRK version, of laser vision correction. Dr. Caster
Q: This one may be out of left field. Soon after I was born, a tumor grew and attached itself to my right tear duct. When it was removed, the tear duct came with it; therefore, my right eye is chronically dry.
I am a few days short of turning 22, and it has yet to limit me in any way except not being able to wear contacts and enter into the military. Do you believe I could be a candidate for the procedure?
I've been dealing with this for my entire life, so it being dry doesn't faze me one bit. I just dream of one day waking up and not have to grab my glasses, because I almost literally do not know what that's like. A.J.
A: I do not think that laser vision correction is a good option for you. Because of your extreme dryness, there could be difficulty with healing. Dr. Caster
Q: My son was diagnosed with amblyopia, or "lazy eye," at age 7. At no time has he dealt with strabismus (crossed eyes). He patched the affected eye with some improvement, but his vision is still far less than his better eye.
We are investigating LASIK options for him. Is it possible to have a general idea of how effective the outcome of the surgery will be prior to committing to it? K.M.
A: LASIK can correct the amblyopic eye to the same degree that glasses or contacts can correct the vision. Dr. Caster
Q: I have a lazy eye, which I've learned to called amblyopia. I am not able to see straight ahead, but I can see out of my periphery. Do you think that LASIK surgery would help my eye stop wandering? How do I go about finding the right eye doctor/surgeon? J.D.
A: LASIK will not stop your eye from wandering. It does not cure amblyopia. Dr. Caster
Q: I was born with crossed eyes, and had corrective surgery when I was 18 months old.
I've had to wear glasses all my life and I cannot see very well past four to five feet in front of me, besides shapes and blurs. I cannot wear contacts, mainly because I was told I am very sensitive to light, so I have had to wear tinted glasses.
I was thinking of getting LASIK surgery, but not sure I could due to my corrective surgery when I was younger and the severe sensitivity to light i have now. Is it still possible I could have the surgery and it would help my vision and the sensitivity to light? I.M.
A: LASIK would not help your sensitivity to light, but could probably help your vision. An examination by a LASIK specialist is needed. Dr. Caster
Q: I have a lazy eye, and my right eye drifts inwards a bit when I don't wear contact lenses or glasses. Would having LASIK eye surgery produce the same results as wearing glasses or contacts, i.e., no drifting of the right eye occurring? K.M.
A: The eye alignment after LASIK would be similar to the alignment with contacts. Glasses sometimes have prism built into them, which can change the eye alignment in a way that contacts or LASIK do not. Dr. Caster
Q: I've been told I have a scar on my retina. Can LASIK fix the problem with my vision in that eye? I wear glasses, but only need them for the one eye. Would I still need to wear glasses? L.H.
A: LASIK will not repair the scar in the retina, but it can eliminate the need for glasses. I would only recommend LASIK if both eyes with glasses are capable of seeing quite well. Dr. Caster
Q: I have worn contact lenses for years. About two years ago I was diagnosed with blepharitis. Is it ever possible to have LASIK surgery with this condition? Is there a permanent cure for blepharitis? S.M.
A: Blepharitis is not a serious condition. It is sort of like dandruff, which can be an annoyance but is not particularly harmful. There is no cure; it comes and goes over time. But you can certainly still have LASIK surgery. Dr. Caster
Q: I have blepharitis which is completely controlled by daily warm eye compresses. I am 68 years of age. Could I be a candidate for LASIK surgery? A.W.
A: If your blepharitis is under good control, and you are 68 years young, you are a probably a good candidate. Dr. Caster
Q: I've had several cosmetic eye procedures. I was told I have dry eyes, and scar tissue as a result of the dryness. My vision hasn't been worsened by this. Can I still have LASIK surgery? My wish is to not ever wear glasses again. A.E.
A: People with dry eyes can have laser vision correction. Sometimes, the non-flap version is preferable. If dryness is truly severe, no treatment is advised. However, the dryness is often better after laser vision correction than it was with contact lenses, which accentuate dryness. Dr. Caster
Q: If there is a history of glaucoma (mother/aunt/uncle) in my family, is it better for me to have PRK over LASIK surgery, in case I develop glaucoma myself as I get older? M.
A: Neither LASIK nor PRK will impact your development of glaucoma, nor will it influence the treatment of glaucoma. So choose whichever you prefer LASIK or PRK based on other factors. Dr. Caster
Q: I have type 1 diabetes, which is managed with an insulin pump. I know diabetics typically are not candidates for LASIK because of slower healing, but I tend to heal a lot faster than normal, at least with piercings and tattoos. Could it still be possible for me to get LASIK done? H.
A: Many LASIK surgeons will not treat patients with type 1 diabetes. Many others, however, do feel comfortable if the diabetes is well controlled and if there are no significant complications from the diabetes. Dr. Caster
Q: I have coloboma in both eyes. The left eye is more severe; most of my vision is out of the right eye. Currently I have about 20/40 vision. I wear glasses but am able to drive, etc. Would LASIK be an option for me to correct the level of sight I have in the right eye? I have been told not to pursue it from some people, but I want to improve my vision as much as possible and make it easier on me when I am renewing my drivers license. M.K.
A: Coloboma can present a problem for the eye trackers on the lasers. I would want to test your eye on the laser tracker to make sure that the tracker was performing normally before recommending the procedure for you. Dr. Caster
Q: I have several eye allergies (pollen, dust, animal dander, etc) and very easily irritated eyes. I cannot wear my contact lenses longer than a few hours because I get burning and red, bloodshot eyes.
When tested during my LASIK evaluation, my eyes were determined to have only "mild" dryness. Dry eyes can be a possible side effect of LASIK, and I wonder if this would exacerbate my eye irritation.
I would rather walk around with blurry vision than have burning/dry/painful eyes forever so am I still a candidate for LASIK with "mild" dry eyes and multiple allergies that cause eye irritation? T.
A: Eye allergies and eye dryness are different things, though they both can cause irritation. LASIK can sometimes make dry eyes more dry, but if it occurs, typically this is only during the first three months of healing.
Also, many people say that their eyes are much less dry-feeling after LASIK because now they do not use their contacts, which aggravated the dryness feeling. So mild dryness is one of the main reasons many people have LASIK, because the mild dryness makes contact lens use difficult and they are very happy after LASIK.
Try omega-3 fish oil pills for your dryness three pills every morning. It works wonders for dry eyes. Dr. Caster
Q: Is LASIK applicable to albinos? C.A.
A: LASIK can be given to people with albinism of the eyes, to correct the vision as well as glasses or contact lenses can. Dr. Caster
Q: I am thinking about having LASIK but I suffer from migraines. I was told from one doctor that I have to be off my triptans (a kind of medication) for three months because they can affect the shape of the cornea; another doctor said they don't. Who is right? A.
A: Your medication will not affect your lasik treatment. Dr. Caster
LASIK and Presbyopia
Q: I am 52, and I have one long-sighted eye and one short-sighted. I would like to be able to give up glasses. Is laser eye surgery possible? I've been told that age 40 is the limit. K.C.
A: Blended vision is for people 40-50 or older in which one eye is adjusted with LASIK for close vision and one eye for distance vision. Dr. Caster
Q: I've been using glasses for about 12 years now and have become quite used to them. But I've also been interested in getting eye surgery to correct my vision.
I've had contacts before, but they irritated my eyes too much. Is there a way to correct my vision but still use my glasses for reading? R.G.
A: You would probably be able to have laser vision correction and still use glasses for reading. Dr. Caster
Q: I chose monovision LASIK about a year and a half ago. My vision is not what I had anticipated, and in fact the eye that was corrected for farsightedness seems to be deteriorating. I am 53. What are my options? D.I.
A: It sounds like a touchup is in order. Dr. Caster
Q: Can LASIK eye surgery improve reading? I was told by friends that it can improve only your far vision and you still need reading glasses after LASIK surgery. M.
A: LASIK can improve up-close vision in many cases. It is too detailed to explain all the variations here. You will need to visit with a LASIK specialist. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 54, and my close-up vision has gone downhill over the past couple of years. Will it continue, or will it taper off at some point? Am I safe at this age for LASIK, in the sense that I'm older and my vision won't deteriorate much more? Or do I wait and see if I continue to get worse? R.B.
A: Your close-up vision will continue to worsen as you get older, whether or not you have LASIK. There is no reason to wait. Dr. Caster
Q: Can this eye surgery correct the need for reading glasses that comes with age? I'm 48 and always had perfect vision, but for about the last five years I've needed to use reading glasses. My far vision is fine, but up close I can't focus. H.F.
A: Yes, LASIK can correct the need for reading glasses by using the monovision technique. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 57 and wear over-the-counter reading glasses. I have never worn prescription glasses. I am very interested in LASIK surgery. Do I have to wear prescriptions before becoming a candidate? B.F.
A: LASIK can be useful to people like you who use only over-the-counter reading glasses. Dr. Caster
Q: I asked about LASIK the last time I got glasses and was told that because my eyes were "add" (+2.75), I was not a candidate for the surgery. Is this true? R.K.
A: You can most likely have laser treatment to correct your distance vision, and then you would use reading glasses for up-close reading.
Alternatively, you could possibly have one eye adjusted to take care of the up-close reading. Dr. Caster
Q: I had PRK to correct farsightedness 11 years ago at the age of 43. I am now 54, and my near vision is progressively getting worse (due to age, I presume). Is it possible to have either LASIK or PRK correct my vision to at least the ability to read newspapers or magazines without needing glasses? L.V.
A: Monovision PRK may be possible in your situation, which would adjust one eye to read newspapers while the other eye remains for distance. Testing will determine if this is the right solution for you. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery done on both of my eyes 11 years ago. I can still see 20/20. However, I've been wearing prescription glasses only for reading or using the computer. Can I get one LASIK surgery done for reading? K.T.
A: Yes. You can have one eye corrected to help with your near vision. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 50 years old and use bifocal lenses. Does LASIK correct farsightedness and nearsightedness in one procedure? M.
A: You can have one eye adjusted for optimum near vision and one eye for distance. You can try this ahead of LASIK with glasses or contacts to see if you like it. Dr. Caster
Q: I am nearsighted have been since adolescence. I'm 48 years old and now have bifocals, which really hinder me in my work as a maintenance technician. I can never seem to get my head in the right position to see things up close in electrical panels or engine compartments of vehicles, etc. Is there any way to correct my close-up vision? It's really tough to do my job sometimes. M.K.
A: You can correct your distance vision in both eyes, you can correct your near vision in both eyes, or you can (after appropriate testing to determine your suitability) correct one eye for distance and one eye for near. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK three weeks ago and am very pleased with my far vision. However, I am having to use two pairs of glasses: one to see in the middle distance and one for reading. I was offered monovision, and now I regret not choosing it. I am 58. Is it still possible to have monovision surgery for one eye? R.S.
A: Yes, you can have one eye adjusted for midrange or near, as you desire. Dr. Caster
Q: About three months ago I had LASIK surgery that corrected both eyes for distance. I am over 40. Prior to the surgery my near vision was not that bad. Since the surgery I need reading glasses to even read my phone. Is it possible to have an enhancement to create monovision since I have already had the other? T.N.
A: Yes. I feel that this should have been carefully explained to you, and hopefully demonstrated, prior to your first treatment. Make sure any proposed change is carefully demonstrated with glasses before treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery about 13 years ago, and it worked great to correct my nearsightedness. Now I am 47 and need reading glasses. Can I have another LASIK surgery to fix that? J.
A: Yes, you can have a LASIK treatment to fix your near vision. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK about 20 years ago. I am now 64 and wear a contact lens in my right eye for reading. Distance vision in my left eye is not good. Of course I cannot wear a contact lens in that eye because of LASIK-induced flattening. The left eye has astigmatism. Can I get LASIK again? I have no cataract yet in the left eye. S.H.
A: You can most probably have LASIK in both eyes, adjusting one for near and one for far. Dr. Caster
Q: I have 20/20 distance vision but need reading glasses to for up-close tasks. I was told if I get LASIK to correct my near vision, I will have to wear glasses to see far because the corrective surgery will affect my distance vision. Is that true? D.F.
A: That is correct, if you adjust both eyes for reading. However, many people choose blended monovision, in which one eye is adjusted for near vision and one for far (either using contact lenses or laser correction).
This seems strange to many when they first hear about it, but it works very well for a significant portion of the reading glass population. A simple test by your LASIK doctor can determine if this would be right for you. Dr. Caster
Q: I am a 45-year-old woman and underwent LASIK last week to correct my vision (-4.75 D in both eyes). I was able to read and do computer work without glasses before the operation. Now, I have to use +1.50 D glasses for reading and computer work.
I don't want to wear reading glasses. Is there any remedy available, or can I get LASIK again to correct my near vision? H.M.
A: It is too soon to know what your reading vision will be. The near vision after LASIK should end up to be similar to the near vision with your distance glasses on, assuming both eyes were corrected for distance with LASIK. If you are interested in monovision blended vision, you can have one eye adjusted for near and one for far. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm a 57-year-old male in very good health and now wearing -9.00 D (Acuvue Oasis) contact lenses in both eyes. My vision has been very stable for years. I have very mild astigmatism in one eye but not enough to require a contact lens for astigmatism.
I'm considering LASIK surgery, but am concerned that if my eyesight should worsen as I get older I may not be able to have the surgery performed. If my eyesight should worsen, is it still possible to have LASIK performed with the intent to: 1) reduce the power magnification needed of my contact lenses; and 2) to see better when not wearing contact lenses? M.
A: Several factors, such as your corneal thickness, are important. If your corneas are of normal or greater thickness, you should be able to get your eyes corrected with LASIK and not need contact lenses or distance glasses. You will need reading glasses, unless you choose the monovision LASIK option. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 51 years old and have been wearing glasses since I was 14 and contacts since 18. I almost exclusively wear contacts. One eye is at -4.50 D for near and one is -3.25 for distance. Both eyes are BC 8.3 and DIA 14.0. My glasses are just for distance, no bifocals.
My problem is with contacts; I can see pretty well but I don't think it's as clear as it should be either near or far. With my glasses, when I want to read fine print I take off the glasses and can read better than with the contacts, but I have to hold it four to six inches from my eyes.
My doctor says my eyes are very steep. Can corrective surgery make my vision clearer than with contacts? I have no trouble adjusting to both eyes being corrected differently. S.B.
A: Correcting one eye for near and one eye for far is called monovision, or blended vision. Monovision is never as good for near or far as having both eyes adjusted exactly for near or far, as bifocal glasses do. But monovision is great in that you don't have to deal with bifocal glasses. So you could have LASIK treatment to create monovision, but it will probably be similar to your contacts. Oftentimes we can make vision better than with the contacts, but we never want to promise that. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery seven years ago to correct short-sightedness (myopia). Is there an equivalent to correct long-sightedness and do I need to wait until my eyes have been "stable," i.e., my long-sightedness has remained the same for a year, before going ahead with the surgery? A.H.
A: The farsightedness of middle age will continue to worsen as you age, up until age 60 or so. But if you are now using reading glasses you may benefit from monovision laser treatment. You need to be tested to see whether it is appropriate for you. Dr. Caster
LASIK After Other Eye Procedures
Q: I was born with cataracts, and they had to take them out when I was a baby. I never had artificial lenses placed in my eyes, so I used to have to wear thick glasses until I got contacts. I was wondering if I can be a candidate for LASIK to at least reduce my prescription to -9D or less. Right now both eyes are at -12.50D. A.
A: No, LASIK would not be a good option in your situation. Dr. Caster
Q: I would like to get LASIK to correct my astigmatism. Recently I was told that I have early cataracts.
Should I get the LASIK now, and will it keep astigmatism away after cataract surgery? Or am I better off having the astigmatism addressed during cataract surgery? (I'm hoping I can wait until I turn 65 I'm 59 now.) H.
A: When cataract surgery is performed, the nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism can be addressed. So if you know you are going to have cataract surgery soon, you should hold off on the LASIK.
However, if cataract surgery appears to be further off, or maybe will not occur at all, then consider LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: I had cataract surgery on both eyes. The right eye is still a little burry, and I was wondering if LASIK can fix it? J.
A: Lasik can be performed after cataract surgery to improve vision. Dr. Caster
Q: I had my cataracts replaced with Crystalens, and my eyesight improved only a little bit. My doctor said that I could get better eyesight with either LASIK or laser surgery (can't remember which he mentioned). Is this true? C.M.
A: Yes, laser treatment is often used to improve vision after cataract removal. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK seven years ago, and shortly afterward my surgeon moved to another state. I now have to wear glasses to drive and would like an enhancement.
I had a consultation with a different surgeon and was told I am a good candidate for PRK, but not for another LASIK procedure, because he did not want to create a new flap.
I called my original doctor, who said he would do another LASIK procedure and that the other surgeon simply didn't want to accept the liability of doing LASIK since he didn't perform the initial surgery.
I'm not sure who to believe, since they're telling me opposite things. Can I still have a LASIK enhancement? D.
A: You can probably have a LASIK enhancement. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery about 11 years ago. All was good with it, and I believe I had 20/20 vision. But over the last couple of months I've noticed that when I'm trying to read something fairly far off, it's blurry and I have to squint to see.
Is it common to need a second LASIK surgery? If so, will it cost as much as the first surgery? L.B.
A: Some people's eyes will change after LASIK treatment. LASIK does not stop your eyes from experiencing the changes that would otherwise naturally occur, including normal aging changes.
You can probably have another LASIK procedure to correct the tiny problem with your current vision. It will most likely cost the same as an original treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I've had multifocal lens implants put in after cataract surgery. They are horrible because they are not centered, or so I'm told. Can LASIK help me? A.M.
A: LASIK can often help after multifocal implant treatment. It will probably not, however, help completely for a decentered implant. Dr. Caster
Q: I had my eyes done once years ago, and now I'm back to wearing glasses. I would like to do it again. Is it safe and the same cost as for the first time? S.D.
A: In almost all cases, you can have further treatment if your eyes have changed. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery approximately 15 years ago. My vision has deteriorated to the point of needing glasses to see at a distance, and my reading glasses have gone from 1.5 to 2.5 diopters. Can I have this corrected by another LASIK treatment? J.C.
A: Lasik should be able to correct your distance vision. Your near vision can be aided by monovision LASIK, if you so choose. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK and then 10 years later I had bilateral cataract surgery. Can I now have LASIK again and would it correct my vision? J.M.
A: Yes, you can have LASIK again after cataract surgery to correct your vision. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery about 10 years ago,which was a wonderful experience. My question is, can I have an enhancement now? After all that time? Would it be safe? My vision seems to be not as good as it once was. B.S.
A: You can have LASIK again. Re-treatments like this, even 10 or 15 years later, are performed commonly. Dr. Caster
A: It is certainly possible to have additional "enhancement" laser eye surgery a second, or if needed, a third time. Dr. Caster
Q: I had RK (radial kerotomy) surgery in 1992. It was very successful, however, in the past year or so I have noticed that my distance vision is poorer in the mornings when I wake. And if I lay down during the day, my vision is poorer when I get up.
Is this a result of RK? Is there anything I can do about it? Can you have LASIK to correct this? D.W.
A: RK, or LASIK for that matter, will not stop the eyes from changing over time. So it is possible that your eyes have changed a little since your original surgery. Fortunately, this can usually be corrected with a LASIK treatment, or with glasses or contacts lenses. Dr. Caster
Q: I had RK in 1993, two surgeries on my right eye and one on the left. In 2004, I had LASIK and it was fine for awhile but my vision has drifted some. Is it safe for me to have another procedure? M.K.
A: The answer is yes, it is probably safe. However, I would recommend that any further treatments be performed on the surface of the eye using PRK laser eye surgery. Your vision will probably continue to drift as a result of the RK treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I had RK surgery in 1995 and it worked great. As I got older, I needed glasses for reading and have had to revert back to glasses. I have heard that I cannot have any more eye surgeries to correct my eye problems now. Is this true? Can I have eye surgery and correct my vision so I do not have to have glasses? If so, what type of eye surgery am I looking for? B.H.
A: What you have heard is completely wrong. Laser vision correction can be used for people who have had RK. You can choose to have both eyes corrected for distance. If you are over 45, you will need up-close reading glasses. If you are over 45 you may choose to have blended monovision, in which one eye is adjusted for distance and the other for up-close reading. This is based on your desires and testing at the doctor's office. Dr. Caster
Q: I had RK about 25 years ago, but now my vision is starting to blur distance, close up and computer work). Could I be a candidate for LASIK correction now? C.G.
A: Yes. People who had RK in the past can typically have laser vision correction if their eyes have changed over the years. Dr. Caster
Q: If my vision changes after LASIK surgery, can the procedure be performed again? Basically, how many times can surgery be performed if vision keeps changing? J.R.
A: LASIK surgery can almost always be performed again if your eyes change in the future. There is really no limit if there is enough thickness to the cornea. Dr. Caster
Q: I would like to know if you can have LASIK performed more than once. Back in 1999 I had it done and it was wonderful. But about three years later my eyes went bad again. I was thinking about doing it again, but will the results last longer than three years? I am 60 years of age. B.R.
A: Laser vision correction can typically be performed more than once, if needed. Of course, laser vision correction does not stop your eyes from naturally occurring changes such as presbyopia. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK correction approximately 13 years ago. Although my distance vision is still good, my near vision is rapidly getting worse. I wear reading glasses. Can I have LASIK again to try to improve my near vision? I'm 59 years old. J.E.
A: Monovision blended vision works well for many people, and this can be achieved with contact lenses or with LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: What are the increased risks of having LASIK performed a third time? My mother has had LASIK twice and now needs to go again for a third time. C.C.
A: The risks from a third procedure are no greater, or less, than the risks from the second procedure.
These include infection, epithelial ingrowth (which would require an additional but minor treatment), and problems with the flap. Overall, the chances of a problem are quite low and can be usually easily treated. Dr. Caster
Q: Can you have LASIK surgery for vision correction after having cataract surgery? B.H.
A: Yes, LASIK is often performed after cataract surgery. Dr. Caster
Q: I had bilateral eye surgery when I was 13 years old. Can I still get LASIK? L.
A: Well, it depends on what type of surgery you had. Most likely, you had surgery to straighten your eyes to correct a condition called strabismus (crossed eyes). If so, the answer is yes! Dr. Caster
Q: My son had laser surgery on his eyes when he was a month old for retinopathy due to prematurity. Now he has vision that can only be corrected to 20/40 with glasses and he wants to go into law enforcement. Is he a candidate for LASIK eye surgery? C.K.
A: I would advise against laser eye surgery in this situation. Also, typically with vision corrected to, at best, 20/40 with glasses, he would not qualify for law enforcement even if he had laser eye treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK done on one eye about 12 years ago. I think it's reverting back to double vision. Can this be corrected again? M.J.
A: Most likely, the answer is yes. Dr. Caster
Q: I had corneal replacement surgery more than 10 years ago. Is it possible to get LASIK to improve my vision? K.
A: Yes, LASIK can be performed after corneal transplant if needed. Dr. Caster
Laser Eye Surgery and Pregnancy
Q: I have been advised to wean my baby from the breast and wait three months before going for LASIK. Is this really necessary?
My reading vision has not changed in the last five years, and my baby drinks only once or twice a day, as he is 13 months old. L.
A: Different doctors have different approaches to this. I have found that it is not necessary to wean and wait.
I do ask the mother to pump some milk and to give it to the baby for the first day after the treatment, just so that the mother does not give the baby any of the medications that we use. Dr. Caster
Q: My eyes changed during pregnancy. We are trying again, and I was wondering: If I got LASIK, would it stop working? D.
A: LASIK will not stop the eyes from changing. If the eyes change during pregnancy (which is uncommon), it is usually temporary, and then the vision typically returns to its original level. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 25, and I live in Iran. Laser surgery has become really popular here, and I'd like to have it myself. Both my eyes are 3.75. I've done the tests, and all is good. I've been told I can have the surgery, but the thing is I've heard that if I get pregnant in the future, my shortsightedness will come back even if I've had the surgery. Is this true? E.
A: The short answer is no. In rare cases, a little shortsightedness can appear during pregnancy, but it is very mild and almost always temporary. So I would not worry about future pregnancies. Dr. Caster
Q: I am a 30-year-old female. I had LASIK five years ago and had no trouble until about one year ago, when I had a 50 percent return to baseline vision. I am eligible for the touch-up, but plan to get pregnant this year. Should I wait until after my pregnancy? How will that affect my eligibility for the touch-up? M.
A: In some rare cases, vision can change a little, usually temporarily, during pregnancy. It does not happen very often. In your case, it sounds like your vision may still be changing, so I would recommend waiting for a while to ensure stability before undergoing a touch-up. Dr. Caster
Q: I am about to have LASIK, but I am also going to get pregnant soon. Will the post-operative medicines have any effect on my pregnancy, and are they safe for my baby? Also, will getting pregnant soon after the procedure affect the results? M.
A: The post-op medicines are usually only taken for a week. They are eye drops, and very little gets into your system. However, I always advise women to refrain from treatment if they are currently pregnant. The pregnancy in very rare cases can change the measurements of the eye, though usually only temporarily and typically by only a very small amount. Dr. Caster
Q: I just found out I'm four weeks pregnant and have PRK scheduled for next week. Is it safe for my baby to continue with the surgery? All pre-op is completed. T.S.
A: I would wait until after the baby is born and after you have stopped nursing. Although all the drops and pills used are most likely safe for the baby, it is always better to be cautious and avoid medications that can be avoided in this case, by postponing your treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I've heard that it's better to have vision correction surgery (LASIK, etc.) after pregnancy because your eyeglass prescription may change. Since I'm planning to become pregnant soon (maybe in six months' time), I'd like to know if it's better to wait until having the baby or if there is no difference at all? Z.E.
A: It is possible for the hormones associated with pregnancy and breast-feeding to change your glasses prescription. Most likely, however, this would be on a temporary basis, because the hormones are temporary.
I have been performing vision correction surgery for a long time, and I cannot remember even a single patient whose prescription changed a significant amount on a permanent basis as a result of pregnancy.
So my advice is: Do not have LASIK surgery if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. But it is okay to have the procedure now, even if you plan to be pregnant in the future. Dr. Caster
Q: Is it true that a woman must wait until she has finished having kids and nursing before getting LASIK surgery? G.W.
A: This is a common misperception. A woman does not have to wait until after having children.
This misperception occurs because of the following: there is a very small percentage of women who will have their prescription change a little bit, usually temporarily, while pregnant or breast-feeding. After the pregnancy and breast-feeding are over, the prescription almost all the time returns to where it was before the pregnancy.
So it is advisable not to have laser vision correction if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, but it is fine before or afterwards. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 29 years old and have a prescription of -1.75 D in both eyes, plus slight astigmatism. I've been wearing glasses for 12 years and I'm now considering having LASIK surgery. I have no kids yet, but hopefully I will in years to come. What negative effects could I have on my eyes if I was to give birth vaginally? I've heard that the pressure of a natural birth can alter the results of my eye surgery if I get it done before becoming pregnant. Is this true? Should I wait and have my kids and then have LASIK surgery? L.
A: You have been given some misinformation. Labor does not affect the results of LASIK. What can cause an effect, which is almost always temporary and small, is a minor change in your vision due to the hormones of pregnancy. These changes are uncommon and typically temporary, so they should not play any factor in your timing to have LASIK, except that you should avoid having LASIK when you are pregnant or nursing. Dr. Caster
LASIK and Higher Order Aberrations
Q: I have nearsightedness (4.5 and 5.5 D) and astigmatism and have been told that I am a good candidate for all-laser LASIK. I currently see big starbursts around light sources at night while wearing glasses, such as oncoming headlights while driving.
Does the fact that I already have this issue prior to getting LASIK mean that it is more likely that I am going to experience worse or longer lasting starbursts after LASIK?
The clinic that qualified me for LASIK is telling me that none of their patients ever have starbursts for more than 90 days after the procedure since it is all about correct laser calibration and technique, but then I read so many stories about people who have this problem for years or forever. A.
A: The newer technologies will in most cases not make the pre-existing starbursts worse, but they also are unlikely to make them better than they are with your glasses. So you will probably continue to have starbursts after LASIK, most likely similar to how they are now with your glasses.
During the first 90 days they may be worse than you are used to, but they will then most likely revert to your current level of starbursts. Dr. Caster
Q: When I was 17 years old I was hit in the eye with a paintball, which caused scarring to my retina. I currently have some "black spots" where i see nothing, but this doesn't bother me as much as the blurry vision I experience.
Is it possible that LASIK could help smooth the affected areas of my eye so I can see clearly again through my damaged eye? M.D.
A: Unfortunately, LASIK surgery is not able to adjust for scarring problems with the retina. Dr. Caster
Q: Does requiring prism in my glasses make me a bad candidate for LASIK? I'd like to have laser eye correction so I don't have to wear prescription sunglasses. T.
A: LASIK will not correct the need for prism in glasses. If your eyes are not aligned properly and you need prism, strabismus surgery can eliminate the problem. Dr. Caster
LASIK Exam and Preparing for LASIK
Q: Should I stop wearing my contact lenses for a while before having correctional eye surgery? A.R.
A: You should stop wearing your lenses for three to 10 days for soft lenses (depending on the circumstances) and for several months for gas permeable lenses. This time out of lenses will allow your cornea to normalize. Dr. Caster
Q: I am worried that the prescription obtained during my eligibility exam is not correct. Is one's vision prescription an input into the Intralasik procedure? That is, if they got it -0.25 or -0.5 off from what it is supposed to be, will my vision be off by that number? R.
A: The pre-op prescription is used directly in the LASIK procedure. Sometimes the measurement is obtained solely by a machine; in other situations, it is also obtained by the "which is better, one or two" method; sometimes both are used. In any event, in the best practices, the measurements are obtained more than once to account for any possible error in the measurement. Dr. Caster
Q: Doctor, is it true that one should stop wearing contact lenses at least a year before LASIK surgery? L.B.
A: No. For soft lenses I ask my patients to stay out of the lenses for five days. For gas permeable contact wearers, the time frame is longer: I recommend about two months out of the lenses. However, you can shift into soft lenses during this time and stay out of them for the last five days. Dr. Caster
Q: I had an eye exam to see if I was a good candidate for LASIK, which I am. My eye doctor is charging me $4,000 for custom LASIK since I have a few abnormalities in my left eye but I want to shop around. If I decide to go to another LASIK surgeon, can they use my results from the other doctor or do they have to do another exam? A.M.
A: Each doctor will do his or her own exam. The treatment is not as simple as pointing and shooting the laser. There are a lot of choices that the doctor must make. And the quality of the measurements will affect the quality of your results. So I would not make my decision based on price. Dr. Caster
Q: I have been using contact lenses for the past six years. I want to get LASIK, and my sight has stabilized. So how long before the LASIK procedure should I stop wearing contacts? A.K.
A: It depends on what type of contact lens you are using. For regular soft lenses, three to seven days is recommended (different doctors choose different guidelines). For gas-permeable lenses, usually two months is needed. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm getting LASIK surgery but I'm taking birth control pills called Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Do the pills affect healing after surgery? J.
A: Birth control pills do not affect LASIK healing in any way. Dr. Caster
During the LASIK Procedure
Q: I have a fear of people near my eyes and can't stop myself from blinking if anything comes near them. Will the blinking affect the procedure in any way? T.
A: The eye is held open with a gentle retractor device. You do not need to worry about blinking. Dr. Caster
Q: I am particularly claustrophobic/nervous where LASIK is concerned. Is there any way a patient can be sent to sleep for the procedure? (General anesthetic, not local.) Or do you need to concentrate/focus on the laser? D.H.
A: You must be awake during the procedure, because we need to know the center of your vision and we can do that only when you are awake. You can be pretty heavily medicated, however. Dr. Caster
Q: I saw your answers to others when they asked if you can be put to sleep if you are anxious about the operation or have a phobia of anything touching your eyes.
But can a patient be put to sleep if they positively want to in order to have the operation, or do you positively need to be awake to have the procedure? J.Z.
A: You have to be awake to have LASIK. The treatment must be centered on the center of your vision, and we require your cooperation to determine that. Dr. Caster
Q: Can you be put to sleep during wavefront custom LASIK if you are uncomfortable with the procedure or have extreme anxiety? C.
A: No, you cannot be put to sleep. But you can be heavily medicated for anxiety, which makes it much easier. Dr. Caster
Q: Can laser eye surgery be performed without putting the patient to sleep? C.R.
A: Laser eye surgery is always performed with the patient awake. The treatment takes about five minutes and is virtually painless, so there is no need to put anyone to sleep. Dr. Caster
Q: Can you have LASIK eye surgery under sedation? I have a very big fear of anything going near my eyes and have never even been able to put contact lenses in. E.F.
A: Fear of things near the eyes and difficulty with putting in contact lenses are very common. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons people undergo LASIK because they cannot wear contact lenses and do not want to wear eyeglasses.
Most patients are sedated when they have LASIK treatment. Sedative medications will not put you to sleep, but they will help eliminiate anxiety and make you will feel much calmer and at ease. Sedation makes the LASIK process pretty easy for the patient, even for those who have this common fear. Dr. Caster
Q: Does the patient have to be awake during LASIK surgery? B.B.
A: Yes. But your eye doctor may give you medication beforehand to help you relax, which makes the whole process quite easy. Dr. Caster
Q: I want to get LASIK but I am scared to get it because I know that your eyes are open the entire time. Are you put to sleep before the operation or are you awake for the whole thing? B.
A: LASIK treatment is very quick, lasting less than five minutes. You are awake, but most doctors give a medication relaxer to decrease patient anxiety. It is scary, because we are treating your eyes, but the treatment is very quick and very easy on the patient. Dr. Caster
Length of Downtime After Surgery
Q: I had LASIK surgery performed this past week, and I am wondering if after several months I can go back to mixed martial arts fighting. How high is the risk of the flap being displaced? J.N.
A: Direct contact to the eye could cause the flap to be displaced. It would then have to be smoothed out and put back in place. Dr. Caster
Q: With PRK surgery and having dry eyes and a thin cornea prior to surgery, what is the typical recovery time to go back to my eight-hour-a-day full-time job? I'm required to work on a computer all day and handle paperwork. N.
A: It is a little tricky to tell any specific individual how they will function at work. I advise my patients that most of them will be able to perform most job functions a few days after PRK, but that the vision will not seem particularly good for several weeks, up to even a month or two or three.
Most people are able to drive the day after PRK, carefully, but for some people it can be a week or even longer. Dr. Caster
Q: How soon after LASIK surgery is it safe to travel by airplane? Does the air pressure in a plane mean you have to wait a certain amount of time after the surgery? J.F.
A: The air pressure in the plane does not affect the eye after LASIK. You can fly the next day. Dr. Caster
Q: I am 23 years old and want to get LASIK. I am currently working in the hematology department of a hospital lab, which involves a lot of work looking through a microscope. How soon after the surgery would I be allowed to look in a microscope? Also, if I were to get pregnant later in life (say in two years), would this affect my LASIK results? M.
A: Most people can go back to work the next day after LASIK. Pregnancy can sometimes cause a small change in your vision, which is typically temporary. Dr. Caster
LASIK Risks and Complications
Q: I am considering LASIK. The last time my eyes were tested, my vision had improved very slightly. What are the implications of having LASIK if your eyes then improve? Will you get headaches? N.D.
A: LASIK will not stop the eyes from changing, so if your eyes change a little after LASIK the vision will be slightly less than perfect. Only rarely does that cause headaches. Dr. Caster
Q: I have vision of -3.75D to roughly -4D in both eyes, and I am planning to get LASIK. Most of my friends had -8D prescriptions before they went in for LASIK.
I'm wondering what the percentage is of people my age (late 20s) with moderate nearsightedness that decides to go for LASIK.
I'd like to be able to see without glasses or contacts, but I'm a bit worried if it's worth the potential complications. Y.Z.
A: People with glasses prescriptions from less than -1D up to -10D or -12D have LASIK. The potential complications, which are very small, increase as the prescription increases.
I would recommend LASIK for you if you wish to see well without glasses or contacts. The odds of a significant complication are very small and typically can be handled easily with a repeat procedure. Dr. Caster
Q: I've heard lots of different stories about the corneal flap made during LASIK not attaching to the eye always "floating" or that it attached, but was far weaker and was dislodged more easily.
One doctor said that the cornea is attached fully to the eye, good as pre-op in three weeks. Which is the case? J.
A: After the initial healing period, the flap is very firmly attached to the eye. At that point, it can be moved only by rather severe direct impact to the flap.
If the flap were to move, it would cause blurry vision and would need to be slid back into place, which is not difficult at all. During the first night, when there is almost no healing, it can be moved easily, and we sometimes have to slide it back into place on the first morning after. Dr. Caster
Q: I am planning to go into the science and medical field. Would having LASIK eye surgery have an effect on my vision that will prevent me from having an accurate eye for observation? J.M.
A: Laser eye surgery should help you to see better without glasses or contacts. Most people feel that it aids their work. I know this is certainly true for me as an eye surgeon who looks through a microscope. Dr. Caster
Q: I am in the military and considering PRK. I have watched videos of all of the different procedures, and PRK is the one that caught my eye.
The only concern or I guess I should say that the only fear I have is that the laser could possibly affect my vision in the long run, as I become older. What is the likelihood of this happening? A.M.
A: There are no long-term dangers from the LASIK or PRK procedure. The problems, which can generally be treated quite easily, all occur in the short term. Dr. Caster
Q: After reading the results of farsighted patients, it seems a good percentage of them have experienced: halos (6.4%); visual fluctuations (6.1%); light sensitivity (4.9%); night driving glare (4.2%); and glare from bright lights (3.0%). Is this correct? J.T.
A: I am not aware of these exact statistics, but those numbers sound reasonable. Two points to consider: 1) What percentage of people had those symptoms before they had LASIK? 2) For many people these symptoms are only temporary, during the early months after treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: If you had surgery to fix a lazy eye, would LASIK surgery make your eye lazy again? C.M.
A: LASIK surgery will not make an eye lazy. Dr. Caster
Q: My son, aged 30, wants to have this operation. He has, I understand, not very bad eyesight (he wears contacts). I am completely against the operation: If you cannot see, there is little else in life.
Could it be of some benefit if one postponed this operation for two or three years? I understand the wavefront-guided laser has been in operation only 12 months.
Also, would it be advisable to do this operation on one eye and do the other later, hopefully after better methods have been developed? Also, please advise as to who is the best surgeon to do this. F.I.
A: I am not aware of a single case where someone has lost their eyesight after LASIK, though with the millions of cases that have been performed, I would guess that it has happened. So the chance of blindness is very, very, very unlikely.
Wavefront treatment has been available for around 10 years, with many millions of treatments performed.
You will have to determine who you wish to perform the treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: Does LASIK have any long-term complications? E.A.E.
A: Generally, the only significant long-term complication of LASIK is a change in refraction. That is, some people will become nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic to a small degree some years after treatment.
LASIK does not stop the eyes from changing. But if there is a change in vision, the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism will be much less than the original amount, and can typically be corrected with an "enhancement" LASIK treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I am seriously considering having laser eye surgery done but I am very nervous of the outcome. Are there any cases where a patient went blind by having this procedure done? S.B.
A: I am not aware of any cases where a patient has gone blind from LASIK. If it has occurred, it would obviously be an extremely rare event, and most probably would occur from a severe eye infection that was not properly treated. Dr. Caster
PRK and RK Eye Surgery
Q: I had RK done back in 1998 at age 32, but my vision needs improvement again at age 48. I have nearsightedness and astigmatism. Can anything be done? B.G.
A: Laser vision correction is definitely an option. Dr. Caster
Q: My new eye doctor informed me that older RK patients are having poor results now that they are aging and in need of cataract surgery. Is this true? Also, I have read that RK cuts never heal is that true? I was under the impression that the cuts heal, but were a weaker scar tissue.
With all of the negative information on aging RK/LASIK patients, I am starting to worry. I had RK 17 years ago (20/20 vision still), and my wife had LASIK 13 years ago (20/20 as well). Should we be concerned? J.
A: I hope that you and your wife have been enjoying your excellent vision. You have no need to be concerned. You are not having any problems, and there is no reason to think that you will have problems.
Your cataract surgeon will need to make adjustments to the fact that you have previously had eye surgery. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK eight years ago for astigmatism and myopia. The astigmatism is back in my right eye. The center where I had my surgery said they no longer do enhancements after one year. They do not want to lift the flap again. They have told me that they will try dissolving the superficial layer, and if that doesn't work, PRK would be the next step. I don't understand. I would like your input. T.
A: Different doctors have different approaches to enhancements. Some perform LASIK, some prefer PRK. Either is acceptable. Dr. Caster
Q: I had RK about 20 years ago. I am just now needing glasses again, for both reading and distance vision. Is it possible to get LASIK or something else besides glasses or contacts? R.S.
A: You can most likely have laser vision correction. Dr. Caster
Q: How safe is PRK surgery after LASIK? I have had three unsuccessful LASIK procedures and now my doctor is suggesting PRK. P.
A: PRK is often performed as an enhancement to LASIK treatment, especially after several flap-lift treatments that have not resulted in total correction of vision. There are no guarantees of total perfection, but the procedure is very safe and usually gets the job done. The healing process, however, is slower than with LASIK. Dr. Caster
Q: Am I correct to assume that the major drawback of PRK is the longer recuperation after surgery? I've noticed you can never do wavefront PRK now. Healing time aside, isn't PRK a better solution? I don't mind having a longer healing period if it means best results in the end, i.e., no risk of flap complications. E.
A: The results from PRK and LASIK are the same, except for specific situations that can generally be determined ahead of time. You can certainly perform wavefront with PRK. The main difference is the significantly longer healing cycle with PRK. Dr. Caster
Q: I had RK back in the early 90s with great success. Unfortunately, now I am experiencing vision fluctuations. My vision is worse in the mornings and gets better later in day. My question is whether there is any chance that my vision will stabilize, or is this how it will be for the rest of my life? Also, is there anything on the horizon for new treatments for post-RK troubles? D.
A: There are treatments in the works, known as corneal cross-linking, that should help people with fluctuations. Dr. Caster
Which Laser Eye Surgery Is Best for Me?
Q: I had LASIK seven years ago, and shortly afterward my surgeon moved to another state. I now have to wear glasses to drive and would like an enhancement.
I had a consultation with a different surgeon and was told I am a good candidate for PRK, but not another LASIK procedure because he did not want to create a new flap.
I called my original doctor, who said he would do another LASIK procedure and that the other surgeon simply didn't want to accept the liability of doing LASIK since he didn't perform the initial surgery.
I'm not sure who to believe, since they're telling me opposite things. Can I still have a LASIK enhancement? D.
A: You can probably have a LASIK enhancement. Dr. Caster
Q: My prescription is -9D in both eyes, and my corneal thickness is 540 in the left eye and 560 in the right eye. Would I be a likely candidate for LASIK, or is PRK my only option? C.
A: Most likely, you would be a candidate for LASIK or PRK. Dr. Caster
Q: I am eligible for both LASIK and custom LASIK. I have a low prescription (-1.5 and -1.25). My corneas are .53mm, and my pupils dilate to 7.8mm. Is there really a big difference between me having custom LASIK vs. standard LASIK? A.
A: For your prescription, there is not a large difference. It is your vision, so you might want to consider getting the best treatment possible. Dr. Caster
Q: My eyes are +6.00 and +6.75, with an additional +2.50 each for reading. Recently I was informed that LASIK using the Allegretto Wave Eye-Q equipment could achieve good results. The other option is RLE (refractive lens exchange). What do you think, and what would you do? C.C.
A: Your prescription is beyond the limit that is typically used for LASIK. RLE should be a good option for you. Dr. Caster
Q: I am interested in what choices are available to correct my vision. I am a 45-year-old female. I started out farsighted at age 5, switched to nearsighted at age 6 and progressed to contacts at age 13. My current contact prescription is 8.75 in my left eye and 8.50 in my right eye, with monovision.
The current corrected vision is very frustrating, as I cannot see up close (closer than arm's length), and reading glasses help minimally. What type of vision correction is available, and what is the success rate for individuals my age with my vision? S.R.
A: LASIK with monovision is your best option, assuming everything else is normal. However, it sounds like you might want slightly stronger monovision than you currently have with your contacts. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm concerned about the effects of altitude (14,000 - 23,000 feet) on eyes corrected with LASIK vs. IntraLase SBK vs. PRK. If it is relevant, my prescription is -8.5, my eyes produce more protein deposits than "normal" (per my eye doctor) and tend to be on the dry side. Soft contacts don't fit my eyes well, and they come out frequently enough that I've decided corrective surgery is necesary for safety during my adventures. K.
A: The lower pressure experienced at high altitudes (I assume you are a mountaineer) does not affect LASIK, PRK or any variations, including IntraLase SBK. At higher altitudes, the air is drier, and of course contact lenses become very difficult. Some people with drier eyes can do better with PRK vs. LASIK or IntraLase SBK, but this is typically during the first three-to-six-month period, and then dryness tends to return to the baseline dryness level experienced with glasses prior to the treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: My eyeglass prescription is around -5.0 D. My cornea thickness is around 550nm, I have flat corneas (K reading of 42) and my pupil diameter is 4.7mm. What type of procedure do you think would be a good option for me: thin-flap LASIK, SBK, phakic IOLs (implantable lenses), refractive lens exchange (RLE) or PRK?
I am worried about halos and dry eyes with thin-flap LASIK due to my flat corneas and retinal issues if I have IOL surgery or RLE. Does thin-flap LASIK reduce the risk for dry eye and halos and poor night vision? I am 42, have moderate dry eyes, but my eyes are otherwise healthy. Any procedures you would lean towards with my eyes? E.
A: PRK might be slightly better for people who have extremely dry eyes prior to treatment. LASIK is appropriate for most people with mild dry eyes. SBK is a form of PRK and is not very commonly performed in my opinion it has no advantages. At your age I would not recommend RLE, and for a -5.00 D I would not recommend phakic IOL. Dr. Caster
Q: The Navy will pay for my LASIK or PRK surgery. I want to be a pilot, and someone told me LASIK disqualifies you for flying. My eyes are approved for both LASIK and PRK, and I was wondering which one would be better for me becoming a pilot. I am 19, my prescription lens glasses haven't changed since I was 16. I am an active duty corpsman, aka combat medic. B.A.
A: You will get the same result from LASIK or PRK. My understanding is that the military is now happy with both LASIK and PRK, but each branch sets its own policy and you should check with the Navy to be 100 percent certain. Dr. Caster
Q: My ophthalmologist says that I'm not a candidate for LASIK because my corneas are flat. I'm myopic (4.50D-5.00D) and presbyopic (I'm age 50). Is there a procedure for people with flat corneas? L.
A: I would consider a second opinion regarding the "flat" issue. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm 29. I had my last eye test almost two years ago, and the prescription had changed. I'm due for another eye test in the next couple of months. If my prescription has changed again, can I still get LASIK treatment? L.
A: It is best to wait until your prescription has stopped changing. If you get a correction for your current prescription, it will not be perfect if your eyes subsequently change. Dr. Caster
Q: What are the potential complications and risks (short-term and long-term) for having limbal relaxing incisions surgery? In my case, it would be for correcting astigmatism only (I do not have cataracts).
Since I have had LASIK twice in the past, would this increase potential complications if I sought LRI to correct the astigmatism? K.T.
A: LRI can correct astigmatism. The main complication is that LRI is not extremely precise, and you may still have a little astigmatism afterward.
Consider a LASIK or PRK enhancement as another alternative to correct your astigmatism. Dr. Caster
Q: I'm considering LASIK for mostly cosmetic reasons. How likely would having one eye done vs. two eyes allow me to drive, read menus or do most activities without glasses? I have been told I'm OK for surgery. C.
A: This depends on your age and your exact prescription. If your prescription is mild, then treating only one eye might be sufficient. Dr. Caster
Q: Can LASIK change or fix my eye size? My left eye is noticeably smaller than my right eye; the iris is smaller, and the eye droops. You can tell in pictures, and it makes me self-conscious. J.S.
A: LASIK will not affect the appearance of your eye. Dr. Caster
Q: I am in the process of getting nine prisms in my glasses. It usually takes about two months before they can get the prescription correct, so in the meantime I have to see everything double or close one eye.
Is it possible to have surgery on my eyes to correct this? I am 59 and willing to fly to Los Angeles and have it done. V.F.
A: There is a surgery that will correct the double vision. It is called strabismus surgery. There are many doctors around the country that specialize in this treatment. Dr. Caster
Q: I had LASIK surgery eight months ago, and now I am doing some hormone therapy for two months. I've heard a rumor that hormone therapy isn't so good with LASIK surgery? Y.
A: It really depends on what kind of hormones are being used. I would discuss this with your doctor. Dr. Caster
Q: I have myopia (-2.5D) in both my eyes. I've had it since I was 12 or 13, and now I'm 18 and it has not changed at all. I would like to know if it is possible to have LASIK surgery in only one eye. Since I'm scared of side effects, I would like to protect at least one eye. If it is possible, can you please tell me how much it costs? A.B.
A: You can certainly have LASIK to treat one eye. The cost will vary, depending on the doctor and equipment. Dr. Caster
Q: Is it okay to have LASIK surgery done a second time? I had LASIK (monovision) surgery done about 10 years ago. D.J.
A: You can typically have LASIK more than once, if needed. Dr. Caster
Q: I am quite nearsighted. When wearing goggles underwater and scuba-diving, I can see much more clearly than normally on land.
I am used to wearing contact lenses and glasses and was wondering: LASIK is used to correct vision, so could it be used to do the opposite to change to being farsighted/being able to see very clearly without goggles underwater? It is an odd question, but the possibility seems there. Thank you for your time, and for answering a curious dreamer. A.
A: It is possible to do that, but it would not be at all advisable. Eyes that see very well underwater would work very, very poorly on land. Dr. Caster
Q: I was a +6 and had LASIK nine years ago. I was left with ghosting, and my doctor said it was caused by dry eye.
I found out two years later that I had a low spot on my cornea. I am now wearing a hard contact lens to flatten my cornea. Could LASIK fix this low spot? W.M.
A: With the current widely used technology, the answer is no. However, there is a newer technology called "topo-" or "topography-guided" that is very promising for your problem.
There are several variations of this technology, so I would wait to see which variation proves to be the best. Dr. Caster
Q: My sight is great after LASIK. My question is, when swimming underwater, my vision is as bad as it was before surgery, even four years later. Is this normal? T.H.
A: Your vision underwater is actually better than before, but only by a little.
The human eye is designed to see well in air, not underwater. The optics for an underwater eye are completely different than for an "above the water" eye.
A few rare fish who need to see in both environments actually have their eyes divided in two: an upper part to see in the air, and a lower part to see underwater. Dr. Caster
Q: I would like to ask if there are any existing tests or procedures that can be done to examine if laser surgery has been conducted on an individual. In other words, is it possible to find out if someone has had laser surgery if there are no official paper records? B.
A: There are tests that will frequently, but not always, identify a person who has had laser vision correction. If the correction was very small, the tests may not show the treatment. Dr. Caster
[Page updated June 24, 2015]