Woman with glasses Myopia is one of the most common vision problems in the world. In fact, by 2050, nearly 5 billion people will be myopic. Not many people understand what myopia is or how it can affect other aspects of your life (including your LASIK candidacy).

What Is Myopia?

Myopia is a refractive error that makes it difficult to see clearly at far and intermediate distances. People with mild myopia can usually see pretty well up close, which is why myopia is often referred to as “nearsightedness”. Myopia can be moderate to severe for others, which means that their vision is further impacted. Myopia is caused by a misshapen eyeball and cornea. Instead of the normal dome-shape needed for light to focus properly onto the retina, the myopic eye is a bit too “long”, meaning the distance from the cornea to the retina is longer than it should be.

Myopia is typically harmless and is, at most, an annoyance. People with severe myopia, however, are more susceptible to other eye conditions like macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and glaucoma, to name a few.
Myopia is typically treated using glasses, contact lenses, and surgery like LASIK. For those with high levels of myopia, LASIK can be tricky.

What Is LASIK?

LASIK is a popular method of vision correction that aims to reshape the cornea and allow light to focus onto the retina properly. For most people, LASIK is extremely safe and effective. For others, the surgery may lead to complications and more vision issues down the road. For people with high levels of myopia, the latter is often the case.

Why Might LASIK be Bad for People with Severe Myopia?

Because people with severe myopia are at higher risk for conditions like glaucoma and retinal detachment, many surgeons will not perform LASIK on these patients. LASIK surgery is safe for people who are at low risk for other eye conditions, but not for those who are already at risk.

When you have severe myopia, and especially myopia that continues to get worse over time, the eyeball is becoming increasingly more “egg” shaped and less round. This means that the retina is now being squished into a smaller space in the eye, located opposite the cornea and pupil. This makes severely myopic patients much more likely to experience a retinal detachment, which can cause blindness.

LASIK surgery can also cause highly myopic patients to develop corneal ectasia (or, keratoconus). This condition causes the cornea to bulge into a cone-like shape. This can cause severe vision problems and is difficult to treat and manage. Highly myopic patients are also more likely to experience halos, starbursts and other visual disturbances around light after surgery.

LASIK Alternatives

LASIK does work for some severely myopic patients. However, our surgeons will probably go over other options that would be less risky and better suited to your needs. Other procedures that produce similar results to LASIK include:

  • PRK
  • Refractive Lens Exchange
  • Phakic IOL

If you would like to explore treatment options but you are not sure where to start, make an appointment with your eye doctor. No one can say for sure whether or not a certain procedure can work for you unless you come in for a consultation. If you are interested in LASIK surgery but you are worried you are not a candidate, contact Minnesota Eye Consultants in Minneapolis today!