When it comes to determining the ideal LASIK patient, you need to pay attention to more than just their physiology. Sure, LASIK candidates should be between the age of 18 and 50 and have a minimal corneal thickness of 500 μm. Sure, they shouldn’t have any disorders that increase the risk of complications like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
But what about the other, less concrete qualities? What truly makes a good LASIK patient?
1. They’re always on the go.
People who enjoy staying active and traveling tend to make excellent LASIK candidates. Even though LASIK seems like a luxury, the surgery can be a practical decision for someone who’s frequently on the go. There’s nothing worse than your contacts drying up during a flight, or your glasses breaking halfway through a hike.
People who receive LASIK and travel have less to pack and less to worry about. If a candidate would benefit from this perk, make sure to let them know!
2. They have realistic expectations.
Before the surgery, make sure the patient understands both the benefits as well as the limitations associated with LASIK. While LASIK’s success rate is overwhelmingly high, your patients should understand that they won’t emerge from the surgery with superhuman vision.
Do your patients know that their vision may worsen as they get older? Do they understand that LASIK doesn’t prevent presbyopia? Are they mentally prepared for the possibility of short or long-term side effects? Although you want your patients to approach your OR with confidence, unrealistic expectations are certain to lead to disappointed patients.
3. They’re willing to put in the work.
Patients who receive LASIK need to be prepared to take care of their eyes both before and after the surgery. They need to be willing to swap out their contacts for glasses several weeks prior to the procedure, take their eye drops as prescribed, and attend all their appointments. Poor motivation during the pre-surgical period can predict poor compliance afterwards.
Does the patient understand their aftercare instructions? Are they willing to adjust their habits or schedule so that they can have the best outcome possible? Make sure they’re willing to put in the work to keep themselves healthy.
In the end, the best way to determine whether a patient is an ideal LASIK candidate is by communicating with them. What is their motivation for receiving LASIK? What are their hobbies? Do they understand the risks and the benefits? What about their aftercare?
Some doctors learn these answers by having a conversation; others provide patients with a comprehensive survey or an explainer video. Whatever you choose, make sure you understand where your patient is coming from before the surgery. Ideal patients are more likely to have ideal outcomes.