Refractive Surgery: Is It Right for You?

Health care provider performing eye exam on male patient.Successful refractive surgery may free you from glasses or contacts. But before choosing this surgery, talk with your eye healthcare provider. Get all the facts. Find out what refractive surgery can and can’t do. Knowing the risks will help you make the right decision for you.

The choice is yours

Refractive surgery can improve your eyesight. But it has risks and limitations.

  • Even after surgery, you may sometimes need glasses or contacts. If you’re over 40, you may need reading glasses. This is true even if you don’t use them now.

  • After surgery, recovery will take weeks or months. During this time, you may not be able to do certain things. This can include driving and certain sports.

  • If your first surgery doesn’t work the way you want, you may need a second procedure. This is called retreatment or enhancement.

  • Be sure that you understand the risks and possible complications before making a decision.

  • Consider getting a second opinion before making a decision to have surgery.

  • Don't hesitate to ask the surgeon about his or her training in this surgical area and how many operations he or she has done. 

What you should consider

Know the pros and cons of each type of refractive surgery. Discuss your medical history with your eye healthcare provider. Refractive surgery may not be for you if you:

  • Have unstable vision

  • Have a vision problem that is too severe

  • Have a condition that slows healing or increases your risk of infection

  • Have an eye disease, such as advanced glaucoma or cataracts

  • Are taking certain medicines

  • Are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant in the near future

  • Are breastfeeding

If you’re over 40

As you get older, your eye’s lens becomes stiff. It can’t easily change shape to focus light (accommodate). This can cause you to have trouble focusing on nearby objects. This condition is called presbyopia. So if you’re over 40, you may need reading glasses.

Another option for coping with presbyopia is monovision. To create monovision, refractive surgery is used to adjust one eye for near vision. Your other eye is adjusted for far vision. This option is not for everyone. Talk to your eye healthcare provider. You may be able to try using a pair of monovision contact lenses. This can help you decide if this type of surgery is right for you.