What Happens at a Laser Eye Surgery Consultation?Author: Dr. William Tullo
March 13, 2014
The first step in having laser eye surgery is not, sadly, picking out non-prescription sunglasses. It’s scheduling an evaluation, also called a consultation, during which a trained eye doctor evaluates your candidacy for laser eye surgery, such as LASIK. After a thorough discussion and a non-invasive eye exam, the doctor will be able to determine if laser eye surgery is right for you. He or she can then recommend the best procedure, such as LASIK or PRK, based on your eye exam results.
What to do before your laser eye surgery consultation
Your doctor, or someone at the vision center you choose, will likely tell you to stop using contact lenses in the days or weeks leading up to your evaluation. Contact lenses distort the shape of the cornea, and your doctor will want your cornea to have returned to its natural shape by the day of your laser eye surgery consultation.
What your provider does at your laser eye surgery consultation
On that day, you and the consulting doctor will go to a private room where he or she will ask about your use of eye glasses and contacts, the reasons you want LASIK, and your expectations after the procedure is performed. Some patients hope laser eye surgery will leave them totally independent from eye glasses and contacts, but this isn’t realistic. Most adults will need reading glasses by a certain age, for instance.
Good laser eye surgery candidates have realistic goals for laser eye surgery, such as reducing the need for eye glasses and contact lenses or enjoying a more active lifestyle. Patients with unrealistic expectations are not good candidates.
Your consulting doctor will also want to know about your health history. General health conditions, such as diabetes or an autoimmune disease, and ocular health conditions, such as dry eyes or ocular herpes, can affect whether or not you are a candidate for laser eye surgery and how you will recover after the procedure.
Some medications, such as common migraine pills, can also affect healing. These and other lifestyle factors—including playing contact sports or consuming alcohol and drugs—can also influence candidacy. Your doctor might ask about any of these things to better understand your candidacy for laser eye surgery.
The comprehensive laser eye surgery exam
A typical laser eye surgery consultation continues with a very comprehensive eye exam. This exam will include tests you might recognize, such as pupil dilation and prescription measurement. But the doctor will also use some tests that are specific to the world of laser vision correction. She will measure your cornea in detail, including its thickness, curvature and topography. She might perform a tear-film test to check for dry eyes. Each test will be explained before it is performed, and all of them are painless.
What you learn at the laser eye surgery consultation
Once the eye exam is finished, you and your eye doctor will discuss the results and your candidacy for laser eye surgery. Patients who are good candidates for eye surgery will get a chance to ask questions about the procedure the doctor believes is best for their eyes. LASIK and PRK are the two most commonly recommended laser vision correction procedures.