Many people believe that LASIK eye surgery somehow prevents the need for cataract surgery in the future or makes the development of cataracts impossible. But the reality is that cataracts after LASIK surgery can – and do – still happen. LASIK eye surgery and cataract surgery are two distinct, separate procedures that do not have any bearing on one another. Here are the facts behind the myth, and how each surgery differs from the other.
LASIK Eye Surgery
LASIK is essentially a laser procedure that corrects poor vision. The best candidates for this type of surgery are those who have nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, as LASIK is known as a safe and effective way to correct these common vision problems.
A laser beam is used to reshape the cornea, and this change in corneal shape is what ultimately improves a patient’s sight without the need for contacts or glasses. Recovery time from LASIK is usually between one and three days, with many patients ready to go back to the work the next day after the procedure.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which makes seeing difficult and can eventually lead to blindness. Although the usual catalyst is aging, cataracts are also sometimes caused by medications, certain medical issues (like diabetes) or even UV exposure.
So, can you have cataract surgery after LASIK? The answer is yes. And it’s actually likely that you might, since the development of cataracts cannot be prevented by LASIK (or anything else, for that matter).
When a cataract is found, cataract surgery should be performed as soon as your vision impacts daily life. The good news is that the actual surgery is safe and straightforward. First, the natural lens of the eye is removed and then an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted in its place. Cataract surgery can also be performed with a laser – which is gentler on the eye. Recovery time from cataract surgery can take anywhere from a few days to a full month, depending on your specific situation.
So while it’s appealing to believe that LASIK can somehow prevent the development of cataracts, it’s still a possibility that you will need cataract surgery after LASIK. And if you do get LASIK and enjoy better vision as a result, remember to continue regularly scheduling eye exams. Since cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, and you now know that they can develop after LASIK, visiting your eye doctor for regular check-ups remains imperative to your eye health for the long term. If you want to see if you are eligible for LASIK, need a cataract exam, or want to come in for an annual eye exam, contact us!