LASIK and Cataracts – Cataracts after LASIK Eye Surgery

LASIK and Cataracts – Cataracts after LASIK Eye Surgery

LASIK eye surgery or laser eye surgery is a surgical procedure which is done to correct the vision error of a patient permanently. The surgery helps cure the common refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism & hence get rid of the eye-wears. However, LASIK eye surgery or any kind of eye surgery carries the risk of cataract development post-surgery. Most people remain in the doubt whether cataract surgery is possible after LASIK eye surgery. So, through this article we have cleared all such doubts and explained all about Cataract surgery after LASIK surgery.

What is Cataract?

  • Cataract is the clouding of the eye lens leading to vision obscurity.
  • The lens inside a capsule in the eyes is made up of protein fibers and water, which is arranged accurately to allow light pass through it without any obstructions. However, over the time, these fibers tend to break down or cluster together which clouds the lens.
  • When such cluster or clouding develops in the lens, a cataract surgery is required to restore the clear vision.
  • It can develop in one or both eyes. The developing process is generally slow.
  • Blurry vision, faded colors, halos around light, problem in seeing bright lights, and problematic night vision are some common symptoms of cataract.
  • It generally occurs due to aging or develops due to trauma, radiation exposure, post eye surgery or may be present since birth.

What are the treatment methods for Cataract?

Cataract can be cured with the help of surgery which requires removing of the clouded lenses and replacing it with new artificial ones. After surgery, the patient gets a vision of 20/40 or better vision than earlier. The most common cataract eye surgery is Phacoemulsification, which involves the following step:

Use of Anaesthetic: The cataract affected eye is first numbed with either a sub-tenon injection around the eye or by using eye drops.

Corneal incision: Slits are made in the cornea region to allow instrument insertion into the eye.

Capsulorhexis: This process involves creation of a circular hole in the capsule using needle or small pair of forceps in which the lens is placed.

Phacoemulsification: A handheld probe then emulsifies or breaks up the lens into liquid form with the help of UV waves. The ‘emulsion’ is later sucked away.

Irrigation and aspiration: The soft outer layer of the cataract which is also called cortex is aspirated or sucked away. Saline solution is used to prevent collapsing of the front part of the eye or the anterior chamber.

Lens insertion: An artificial, plastic, foldable lens is inserted carefully into the capsular chamber which earlier contained the natural lens. An antibiotic is also injected into the eye to prevent the risk of infection.

Salt water Injection: In the final step, salt water is inserted into the corneal wounds which cause it to swell and seal the incisions made earlier.

What are chances of Lasik cataract formation after LASIK surgery?

Majority of eye surgeries including LASIK eye surgery carry the risk of cataract formation. According to anecdotal reports, there have been several cases of cataract formation after LASIK surgery even in Young aged patients. It has been found that the steroid drops which are prescribed for use after the LASIK surgery increases the onset of cataract formation in the patient’s operated eyes.

It is suggested that patients who already have signs of cataracts prior to their LASIK surgery should avoid the surgery because the vision can also be cured with the intraocular lens or IOLs which are used in the Cataract surgery.

If you develop cataracts post-Lasik surgery, then your altered corneal surface can cause inaccurate measurement of the IOLs power for the cataract surgery. This means, if the patients who already had LASIK surgery, develop cataracts in the future then they may have to go back to their eye-wears after the cataract surgery. It also increases the risk of multiple eye surgeries too.

What you need to do if you had LASIK eye surgery already?

Unfortunately, most patients who have LASIK surgery don’t keep the records of the surgery which are very essential. Since, measurement in Cataract surgery is important, it is advised to collect your Refractive surgery history from your surgeon.

NOTE: It’s better if you don’t delay because most of the hospitals destroy their medical surgery histories after 5 years.

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What you need to do while facing the cataract surgery after LASIK surgery?

Request for your LASIK medical records from your LASIK eye surgeon or you can ask them to write a new one taking help from the old data.

Take these records to your cataract surgeon who will study them and make accurate adjustment for your lens powers.

Avoid any kind of “multi-focal, “accommodating” or “premium” IOLs, because these are mainly for marketing purpose and don’t actually help the patient.

The “premium” IOLs may not be suitable for the patients who already have been through LASIK surgery.

What you have to do if you have developed early cataract after LASIK or not satisfied with results of the cataract surgery due to prior LASIK surgery?

You need to file a MedWatch report with the FDA online if you have experience a bad outcome of the surgeries.

You may also call FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 and report about your problems. Later, fax the downloaded documents to FDA using 1-800-FDA-0178.

Or you may post the required documents to FDA or use the MedWatcher Mobile App to report about your LASIK problems to the FDA agent.

Also don’t forget to read the LASIK injury reports of the FDA.

Summary: There are several evidences which have proved that LASIK surgery hastens the cataract formation in the eyes to some extent. However, it doesn’t mean you will have any kind of problem in your cataract eye surgery. Having cataract surgery is completely safe and risk free, post-Lasik eye surgery. But due to the corneal reshaping in the LASIK eye surgery, the chances of inaccuracy in the IOLs power increases. Therefore, it’s suggested to keep the medical records of you LASIK eye surgery handy which can be used by the cataract surgeons to reduce the inaccuracy of the IOLs power lens. So, if you have developed cataract after LASIK surgery, there is no need to worry about the cataract eye surgery. It’s completely safe but it may lead to some percentage of vision problems post-surgery.

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