Do I Need Eye Exams After LASIK?
Yes, you definitely still need eye exams after LASIK surgery.
In addition to making sure your vision remains stable, routine comprehensive eye exams are needed to check and safeguard the health of your eyes.
In particular, eye exams are required to check for serious vision-threatening eye problems such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic eye disease. LASIK does not increase your risk of getting these problems but it doesn't decrease your risk either, so routine eye exams are just as important after LASIK as they were before the procedure to rule them out or detect them early so they can be managed appropriately.
Since LASIK alters the shape and thickness of the cornea, it's important to have routine eye exams after LASIK to monitor the health of the front surface of the eye. Preferably, these exams should include corneal topography — a detailed mapping of the curvature of the cornea that is used to rule out keratoconus. (If caught early, keratoconus and other corneal stability problems usually can be successfully managed with a procedure called corneal collagen cross-linking.)
Unless your eye doctor recommends more frequent exams, you should have your eyes checked yearly after LASIK to keep them in top shape.
You should avoid rubbing your eyes after LASIK surgery; aggressive eye rubbing may increase your risk of corneal thinning or keratoconus. (This is true regardless whether or not you've had LASIK, but aggressive eye rubbing also could potentially affect the stability of the corneal flap created during LASIK surgery.)
During your routine eye exams after LASIK, your doctor also will check if any minor refractive errors are present and whether prescription eyeglasses might be a good idea to sharpen your vision for certain tasks.
Often, glasses only are needed part time for specific activities like driving at night; in other cases, nearly full-time wear of eyeglasses with progressive lenses will give you the best possible vision at all distances.
For the best night driving vision, single vision lenses with anti-reflective coating often are the best choice for added comfort and clarity. (AR coating is a good idea for progressive lenses as well to eliminate distracting reflections and make your eyewear more attractive.)
Also, be sure to wear quality sunglasses that shield your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays, which have been associated with cataracts, macular degeneration and cancer of the eye and surrounding tissues.
Another option to protect your eyes from UV is photochromic lenses, which are clear indoors and darken automatically in sunlight. Ask your optician for a demonstration of these sun-sensitive lenses.
About the Author: Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, a leading researcher in technologies for laser and implant vision correction and a member of All About Vision's editorial advisory board.
Page updated March 2018