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Lasik & Macular Degeneration: Can You Have Both?

  • 3 min read

What if you don’t want to wear  glasses but your eye doctor has diagnosed you with macular degeneration? Is is safe to have LASIK if you’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration? Let’s discuss what your options are in such cases.

The first thing required is a thorough dilated eye examination to rule out Wet Macular degeneration. This diagnosis is a contraindication to Lasik eye surgery. Wet macular degeneration accounts for roughly 10% of cases and is known as the severe type of macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is called wet because the blood vessels that invade the macular eye area leak fluid and blood causing harm to cellular parts of the eye. Currently there is no cure for this type of macular degeneration. Laser treatments are sometimes helpful to limit damage to the macular although LASIK eye surgery is not safe nor permitted for this type of Macular degeneration

The more common kind of macular degeneration is dry macular degeneration. For purposes of this articles’ discussion we are going to assume you suffer from dry macular degeneration also called ARMD or dry age related macular degeneration. This form is known as being extremely slow forming, taking years for loss of central vision to occur. This form can range from mild to severe but an eye exam from a board certified ophthalmologist can tell you how far along your macular degeneration has progressed. Dry macular degeneration is confirmed by visual fundus examination, OCT- ocular coherence tomography, or fluorescein angiography. This type unlike its counterpart, the wet macular degeneration is safe for Lasik eye surgery.

What are the risk factors for macular degeneration? Unfortunately the biggest risks factors such as age, race, and genetics are uncontrollable. Currently the population at highest risk is fair light eyed individuals. But some controllable risk factors to avoid are:

  • Hypertension – high blood pressure has been shown to be directly correlated to AMC.
  • Smoking – This may be due to free radicals damaging the tissues of the body as well as tobacco interfering with absorption of antioxidants
  • Sunlight exposure – Some links have been made to suggest long term exposure of sunlight affects the health of the macula.
  • Nutrition – This plays a great role with AMD. Getting the necessary antioxidants and diet has shown to be beneficial in the overall role of AMD patients

So what factors need to be considered to fix your vision? You may even have already undergone cataract eye surgery and still require glasses for vision at all distances, but are unhappy with the vision afforded with the glasses.

Associated Factors to be Considered

  • amount of farsightedness or nearsightedness
  • amount of astigmatism
  • tearfilm
  • corneal thickness
  • outcomes desired-to get great distance vision only or vision at all distances
  • status of the other eye
  • Amsler grid to rule out central field defect.

If all factors indicate laser Vision Correction is safe, than Lasik eye surgery may be better than PRK or Lasek to correct vision. Lasik allows quick healing and delivers central vision in the fastest time. In PRK the central healing is delayed due to heaping of epithelial cells (the cells of the outermost layer) and may compound the problems with clarity of vision.
If you may have Age Related Macular Degeneration and want to consider Lasik eye surgery or to learn more about AMD please contact a Lasik Eye Expert.

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