Can I Get LASIK Surgery If I Have Diabetes?

September 10th, 2018
senior man checking glucometer

People with diabetes can absolutely qualify for LASIK, so long as they keep an eye out for a few complications.

Millions of people have left glasses and contact lenses behind, opting instead for sight-correcting laser eye surgery, or LASIK. LASIK is the leading solution for many vision problems, but for many years after it was first invented, doctors didn’t recommend it for patients with diabetes.

But times have changed — a little bit, at least. LASIK is now known to be a good option for some people with diabetes, especially if their blood sugar is well-controlled and they don’t suffer from severe diabetic retinopathy.

LASIK is performed thousands of times every day around America and – for most people – boasts a 48-hour recovery time. That being said, people with diabetes should proceed carefully when considering LASIK. Due to complications like diabetic retinopathy, slower healing times, and fluctuating prescriptions, the procedure can be more complex for patients with diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels compromise the small blood vessels in the eye. As a result, the body makes new blood vessels, but the newly-made vessels are fragile and prone to bleeding. If they bleed, they can obscure the retina and, in the most serious cases, result in blindness.

Unfortunately, LASIK can’t solve that problem — the retina is in the back part of the eye, and the procedure only reshapes the cornea. Before going ahead with LASIK, your doctor will need to determine the cause of your vision problems. As long as they’re not caused by diabetic retinopathy, LASIK is often a potential vision solution.

High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar is the fundamental symptom of diabetes, but it also has the effect of extending LASIK recovery time. That’s because high blood sugar makes it more difficult for wounds to heal. As a result, many surgeons are reluctant to operate on patients with high blood sugar, regardless of the specific procedure. Some doctors suggest that LASIK candidates undergo Intralase, a premium and bladeless form of LASIK that generally has a shorter recovery time. However, so long as you have managed your blood sugar levels, LASIK remains in the realm of possibility.

Fluctuating Prescription

LASIK surgery alters the shape of the cornea in order to improve your vision, but this can be difficult in patients with diabetes. Changing blood sugar levels can cause your vision prescription to fluctuate, so your doctor may not be able to confidently determine how to best reshape your cornea. The best way to address this is to stay vigilant about keeping your blood sugar within normal range, especially in the weeks and months leading up to a LASIK procedure.

For most people with well-managed diabetes, LASIK is an excellent option for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. A qualified eye care professional can also advise you on next steps toward addressing diabetes-related concerns before a LASIK procedure. Take the first step towards a life free from glasses and contact ICON Eyecare today.

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