LASIK and Refractive Surgery Co-Management
What is LASIK and Refractive Surgery?
- LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a popular form of refractive eye surgery designed to correct vision problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. The procedure reshapes the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, to allow light to focus correctly on the retina and improve vision.
- Other types of refractive surgeries include PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), LASEK, SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) and Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE).
What Does LASIK and Refractive Surgery Co-management Involve?
- Pre-operative Assessment: This involves a comprehensive eye exam by the optometrist to determine the patient’s suitability for LASIK or another refractive surgery. They assess corneal thickness, pupil size, tear film stability, and overall eye health.
- Counseling: Optometrists discuss the potential risks, benefits, and realistic expectations for the surgery. They provide insights into the procedure and different surgical options.
- Referral: The optometrist refers the patient to a trusted ophthalmologist or refractive surgeon for the actual surgical procedure.
- Post-operative Care: After surgery, the optometrist manages follow-up care, ensuring the eye is healing correctly, monitoring for complications, and checking visual outcomes.
- Ongoing Care: Optometrists continue to oversee the patient’s visual health after the immediate post-operative period, providing any necessary treatments or recommendations.
How Should an Optometrist Review Before Making a Recommendation?
- Patient’s Visual Needs: Understand the patient’s lifestyle, occupation, and hobbies. For instance, someone heavily involved in contact sports might not be an ideal candidate for certain procedures.
- Eye Health Assessment: Check for any pre-existing eye conditions like dry eyes, corneal irregularities, or cataracts, which could impact the outcome of the surgery or the decision to proceed.
- Stability of Refraction: Ensure that the patient’s prescription has been stable for at least 2 years. Significant prescription changes might indicate that the eyes are still changing, which could affect post-surgery results.
- Corneal Mapping (Topography): Analyze the shape and thickness of the cornea, which can determine the patient’s suitability for the procedure.
- Tear Film Analysis: Evaluate the quality and quantity of tears, as dry eyes can impact healing and outcomes.
Why Should an Optometrist Be Involved Post-Surgery?
- Continuity of Care: Patients often maintain a relationship with their optometrist. Receiving post-operative care from a familiar professional can be reassuring.
- Early Detection of Complications: Optometrists can quickly identify and manage potential post-surgery complications like infections, inflammation, or issues with vision clarity.
- Convenience for Patients: Optometrists are often more accessible than surgeons for follow-up care, offering patients quicker and more localized post-operative check-ups.
- Adjustment of Vision Correction: In some cases, patients may still require glasses or contact lenses after surgery for certain tasks. Optometrists can provide the necessary prescriptions and adjustments.
- Comprehensive Care: Beyond the surgery, optometrists offer comprehensive eye care, ensuring overall ocular health.
In summary, LASIK and refractive surgery co-management optimizes patient care through collaboration between optometrists and ophthalmologists. With the optometrist playing a pivotal role in both pre-operative evaluations and post-operative care, patients benefit from a seamless, integrated approach to improving their vision.