Corneal Thickness and LASIK Candidacy
Blurry, unfocused vision makes even the most basic tasks difficult to perform. In the past, individuals with vision impairment had to rely on prescription lenses to provide the clear picture vision they needed to go on with their day. Now, thanks to the advances in laser technology over the last several decades, patients have more options than ever before. The most well known of these is LASIK.
LASIK reshapes the inner layer of a patient’s cornea to correct the imperfections that lead to refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK is a great treatment option for many patients, but it may not be right for those with thin corneas. When determining candidacy for LASIK, corneal thickness is an important consideration. At his West Orange, NJ practice, Dr. Kenneth S. Miller discusses why corneal thickness is so important to the LASIK procedure, and what alternatives are available to those with thin corneas.
Determining LASIK Candidacy
LASIK is a widely popular procedure that is suitable for the majority of vision impairment patients. LASIK candidacy is determined by taking into account a few key factors:
- Type of vision impairment: LASIK treatment can correct the most basic refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Custom LASIK may even correct more complex vision impairments.
- Whether the vision prescription has stabilized: The eyes must be mature before LASIK surgery can be performed. This protects patients from requiring additional LASIK treatment in the future. The patient should have a vision prescription that has remained steady for a minimum of one year.
- The thickness of the patient’s corneas: When examining a patient for LASIK candidacy the thickness of the cornea will be measured. Unfortunately, thin corneas are one characteristic that can exclude a patient from undergoing LASIK treatment.
Why Is Corneal Thickness Important?
The aspect of LASIK treatment that makes it different from other laser vision techniques is the creation of the corneal flap. This flap protects the eye while it heals and ensures a smoother, faster recovery period.
During surgery, the flap is created and lifted so that alterations can be made to the underlying corneal tissues. When these alterations have been made, the corneal flap will be lowered and healing will begin.
To accommodate the creation of a corneal flap, patients must have substantial corneal thickness. A small amount of corneal thickness will be lost when the flap is created. More corneal tissue will be removed when the shape of the cornea is altered. To ensure that the eyes heal properly, enough corneal tissue must still remain after all of these adjustments have been made. Patients with thin corneas will lack the corneal tissue needed to provide a healthy foundation for healing after LASIK surgery.
Dr. Miller will not compromise the safety or effectiveness of LASIK treatment by performing this technique on patients with thin corneas. However, there are other options to consider. Aside from prescription lenses, patients with thin corneas can consider PRK. PRK is another form of laser vision correction. This technique allows Dr. Miller to reshape the cornea without creating a corneal flap. Dr. Miller is happy to discuss this procedure with those patients who are not ideal LASIK candidates.
Laser vision correction offers patients safe, effective, and long-lasting results. If you would like to learn more about LASIK surgery or PRK, contact us at your earliest convenience. Dr. Kenneth S. Miller will be happy to meet with you to discuss our full range of laser vision correction services.