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You’ve probably heard the term before: LASIK.

Interestingly, the acronym “LASIK” stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.” It’s a laser eye surgery that doctors pioneered in the 1970s to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. This outpatient medical procedure is a vision corrective surgery that eye doctors perform with lasers to reshape the cornea, which then better focuses light onto the retina.

Optometrists most often use eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct this refraction error. Eyeglasses and contact lenses both bend the light so that it focuses on the retina for better vision. However, LASIK provides a surgical alternative to wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Optometrist Consultation for LASIK

At Custom Eyes, our licensed optometrists provide an eye examination as a preliminary evaluation of whether patients might qualify for LASIK correction. A consultation and examination are necessary before a patient can undergo the surgery.

An optometry evaluation for laser refractive surgery covers these tests:

  • Medical history of patient health
  • Cornea evaluation for healthy tear film
  • Eye refraction test
  • Optic nerve and macula examination with pupil dilation
  • Optical scanning for precise imaging of the cornea’s shape, thickness and curvature

Although we can evaluate our patients’ eye health, we cannot perform LASIK surgery — ophthalmologists perform it.

Difference Between Ophthalmologist and Optometrist

Optometrists are certified as doctors of optometry. They serve as primary care providers for eye and vision care needs. As trained eye doctors, optometrists can examine, diagnose, treat and manage eye diseases and disorders. Additionally, optometrists provide glasses and contact lens prescriptions to correct a patient’s vision.

However, ophthalmologists are medical doctors. They’re trained and certified to perform medical and surgical interventions for various eye conditions. The “surgery” component is key — that’s why optometrists can’t perform a LASIK procedure.

Qualifying for LASIK Surgery

Despite being a safe procedure with a 40-year history, LASIK surgery isn’t for everyone. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has set minimum standards for good LASIK candidates:

  • The refraction error must be correctable with LASIK.
  • The candidate must be 18 years or older.
  • The candidate’s eyes should be in good health, with thick and healthy corneas.
  • The candidate’s eye prescription must have remained stable and unchanged for the past 12 months.
  • The candidate must understand what LASIK can and cannot do.

Because having eyes that are “in good health” can depend on many factors, it’s important that doctors thoroughly examine the total health of a potential LASIK candidate.

Optometry Tests Done Before LASIK

Because healthy eyes are necessary for successful LASIK outcomes, most of the required optometry exams are similar to our comprehensive eye exam. We perform a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your eyes’ total health:

  • Vision acuity test
  • Cover test
  • Internal eye pressure
  • Ocular motility for eye muscle capabilities
  • Color blindness
  • Eye coordination
  • Depth perception
  • Peripheral vision
  • Color vision
  • Internal eye pressure
  • Ocular refraction
  • Responsiveness to light
  • Corneal topography mapping

For patients suffering from chronic health problems like diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease or hypertension, the laser cuts that reshape the cornea will need healthy blood circulation and hydration to avoid corneal complications. Such complications include infection, inflammation and/or irregular flaps.

LASIK Post-Op Co-Management

Postoperative care is important for long-term eye care.

While the ophthalmologist knows the surgical procedure, the optometrist knows the patient. This is where “co-management” comes into play in a patient’s post-op care. The term may be new in the medical field, but the approach is not.

In the transfer of patient care, good communication between the optometrist and ophthalmologist is critical. That’s what creates effective post-op co-management. The optometrist needs to monitor the patient and help the ophthalmologist ensure the long-term success of a patient’s LASIK surgery. For example, we provide various options for patients who need an evaluation.