Can I Get LASIK if I Have Glaucoma?
By Andrew E Holzman, MD FACS on September 11, 2015
In the past, glaucoma was a devastating eye condition that, in most cases, would eventually lead to blindness. Today, there are several highly effective treatments for the disease, and, in developed countries, blindness from glaucoma is rare. Nevertheless, if you have been diagnosed with the condition, it is important to exercise proper precautions to protect your eyes. Therefore, if you are a glaucoma patient, you may wonder whether it is possible to undergo LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis). You may be surprised to learn that, in many cases, it is still safe to receive this procedure. However, to protect your sight, Dr. Holzman will carefully monitor your intraocular pressure before recommending surgery. In some cases, he may suggest an alternative treatment.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that causes pressure to build up in your eye. No one knows the root cause of this condition. Experts do know that it is more likely to affect older individuals, African-Americans, and those with a family history of glaucoma. Most patients suffer from open angle glaucoma. The drainage channel in the eye begins to narrow, though it is not fully blocked off. Fluid cannot leave the eye fast enough, leading to a gradual build-up of pressure. In rare cases, patients may suffer from closed-angle glaucoma. This is an emergency condition since fluid can build quickly, causing immediate damage to the optic nerve.
Does Glaucoma Preclude You from LASIK?
In many cases, ophthalmologists will treat glaucoma with eye drops, which will help to reduce intraocular pressure. If your glaucoma is under control, and pressure is stable, you may still be a good candidate for LASIK. Additionally, if you previously had surgery for glaucoma, you may be able to have laser vision correction. Dr. Holzman will carefully measure pressure and examine your optic nerve to determine whether the treatment is right for you.
During LASIK, Dr. Holzman may use a suction device when creating the corneal flap. This can temporarily raise intraocular pressure. Therefore, if he determines that you are at risk, Dr. Holzman may recommend PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) instead. With this surgery, he will actually remove the top layer of your cornea, rather than making a flap. Despite the lengthier recovery, the procedure may be a safer option if you have glaucoma.
Does LASIK Cause Glaucoma?
Many patients worry that LASIK will raise their risk for glaucoma. These fears are groundless since there is no link between laser vision correction and the disease. On the other hand, extended use of steroid eye drops can lead to glaucoma. You may need eye drops to reduce irritation after LASIK. Dr. Holzman will monitor your recovery and gradually take you off of the drops so that your ocular health is never at risk.
Contact Dr. Holzman’s Office
Whether you suffer from glaucoma or some other eye condition, you may still be able to enjoy sharp vision after laser vision surgery. Contact our practice today to find out if you are a good LASIK candidate.