Can I Have LASIK With Cataracts?

Older woman smiling after LASIK

You can never be too old for LASIK! Patients in their eighties have had successful LASIK procedures.

But older patients are more likely to have eye-related conditions like cataracts. If cataracts are affecting your vision, can you get LASIK?

Will LASIK fix your cataracts? Unfortunately, no. There’s only one way to treat cataracts, and that’s through cataract surgery. Keep reading to learn more about why you can’t get LASIK with cataracts!

Qualifying for LASIK

To qualify for LASIK, there are certain factors you have to meet. These include needing to be at least 18 years old, having a prescription within a certain limit, having thick enough corneas and pupils that aren’t too big.

You also need to be in good health. Perhaps the most important aspect of your health when it comes to LASIK is your eye health.

If you have an eye condition, LASIK can be dangerous or ineffective. In the case of cataracts, it’s usually the latter.

Cataracts and LASIK

As a vision correction procedure, LASIK improves your vision by reshaping your cornea. Reshaping the cornea fixes refractive errors.

These include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They occur because the cornea is an irregular shape.

Light needs to pass through the cornea. If you have a cornea that’s distorted because of irregularities, your brain receives an inaccurate image.

By fixing irregularities with a laser that resculpts your cornea, light can pass through without distortion. This is how your vision is permanently corrected.

But cataracts don’t cause a refractive error since they have nothing to do with the shape of your cornea. They form in your eye’s lens, located below the cornea, and cause it to become cloudy.

This cloudiness makes it difficult for light to pass through your eye at all. So getting LASIK won’t fix visual problems caused by cataracts.

LASIK Alternatives

The good news is you can improve your vision beyond having your cataracts removed when you have cataract surgery. When you have cataract surgery, the surgeon completely removes your eye’s natural lens.

It’s then replaced with an artificial lens called an IOL, or intraocular lens. An IOL comes in several varieties.

Premium IOLs correct your vision. In fact, you can have cataract surgery even if you don’t have cataracts as a way to improve your vision.

This is a procedure called Refractive Lens Exchange or RLE. RLE is an alternative to LASIK that’s popular with people who suffer from presbyopia and astigmatism.

Some premium IOLs, called toric IOLS, are designed to correct astigmatism. Others, like multifocal, trifocal, and accommodating IOLs improve your near focus vision and intermediate vision.

You Can Have LASIK After Cataract Surgery If Necessary

If you suffer from cataracts, consider having your cataracts removed before you think about getting LASIK. Chances are, a premium IOL will improve your vision.

Having your cataracts removed can improve your vision, even if you opt for a standard lens. But if you still have a refractive error after cataract surgery, you can usually still have LASIK after you’ve healed.

The key, of course, is to focus on dealing with your cataracts first.

Think you may need cataract surgery? Schedule a cataract screening at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA!

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