By Nadia Virani, OD
When it comes to vision care, choosing the right eye specialist is of upmost importance and depends heavily on your vision needs or goals. Since vision problems can directly affect your quality of life, it is important to choose an experienced eye doctor that you trust, has a good reputation, and who listens to your concerns and answers your questions. Once your doctor understands your goals, obtains testing, and examine your eyes they will be able to walk you through all of your options, and their recommendations for you specifically.
For example, when considering LASIK, you may be wondering if the timing is right. One of the things your trusted doctor will be looking for is visual stability. Broadly, the earliest recommended time to get LASIK or a refractive treatment is when your refractive error or prescription is stable. This typically occurs by the time we are 18 years old. During adolescence the body, including our eyes and prescription, are undergoing constant changes as we continue to grow. This tends to level out by the time we reach the age of 18. Sometimes with higher prescriptions, this process may take a few additional years to plateau. In a healthy eye, vision stays stable until normal age-related changes shift our focusing ability. In our mid-40s we all experience, presbyopia. Presbyopia affects our ability to focus from distance to near quickly and likely renders us to using reading glasses. At this point, LASIK may still be a good option for you however you may need to wearing classes for close reading only. Other options can include “monovision LASIK” where one eye is focused to distance and the other to near. Our systems tend to be phenomenal at adapting to this change, however, significantly depends on the individual. Your doctor will help you determine the best decision for your eyes at this point.
Our eyes continue to mature as we enter our late 50’s and early 60’s. During this time, you may experience another shift in your vision as early cataracts begin to emerge. There are several factors that can accelerate cataract development including past trauma, over exposure to UV light, diabetes, and many others. At this point, your doctor may recommend other procedures to give you the bet outcome for your visual goals including refractive cataract surgery.
Early cataracts cause subtle changes that may be completely asymptomatic and undetectable to you. An early cataract may cause a small shift in your prescription. If LASIK is performed you may find the longevity of outcome subpar as you may find yourself reaching for glasses again as these cataract changes continue. Once your cataract continues to mature, it may start to cause changes in your vision including glares, halos, trouble seeing in low lighting, over haziness.. During your examination, your doctor will be looking at your natural lens where cataracts will form. The doctor can determine the progression and stage of the cataract and may make a recommendation of when best to treat.
Here are the top four things to look for when selecting a surgeon for LASIK or cataract surgery:
Your doctors are of upmost importance. Their skill set, comfort with the latest technology, and their understanding of your unique goals, ocular, and general health play a huge role in your treatment.
Technology is evolving quickly, and you want to make sure you have partnered with a practice and doctors that understand and use the latest and greatest practices and technology. This will lead to the highest level of care, the best outcomes, and the lowest risk.
Having a procedure like refractive correction (LASIK) can be very simple. You want a practice that puts you and your lifestyle first. Technology is available that minimizes downtime, so you can go about living your life without skipping a beat. You want to be with a practice that prioritizes your time and understands the importance of getting you back to what is important to you quickly.
The Service Line Options:
Each person’s eyes are unique, so you want to make sure you are being treated at a practice that has options and does not have a “one size fits all” mentality. You want surgeons and doctors who have the knowledge and skills to present you with the options that are best for your individual eyes. LASIK might be the right surgery for you, but Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL), or Clear Lens Extraction, or refractive cataract surgery also could be considerations.
Ask questions and do your research. Although refractive surgery has evolved to be low risk, minimally invasive, and quick, you want to make sure you are in the right hands and have been presented with the right options for your unique eyes and your unique goals. There are many providers and many technologies available today to choose from, and you want to have the experience and get the optimal outcomes that you expect.
Nadia Virani, OD, serves as the Vice President of Operations for Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas. Dr. Virani graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology. She then went on to earn her Doctorate of Optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry. Currently, she serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Houston College of Optometry and is an active member of the Texas Optometry Association as well as the American Optometric Association.