Can People with Diabetes Get LASIK Surgery?

August 13th, 2018
senior man checking blood sugar

The risk of LASIK complications is increased for people with diabetes, but that doesn’t mean they have to rule out the surgery entirely.

LASIK is a proven solution for a wide range of vision ailments, but, when the procedure was first developed many years ago, doctors were hesitant to use it to treat patients with diabetes. Luckily, times have changed somewhat. LASIK is now thought to be one of the safest options for many people with diabetes, as long as their blood sugar is well-managed and they don’t suffer from severe diabetic retinopathy.

LASIK is one of America’s most common surgical procedures, and recovery time is typically under 48 hours — it’s usually a simple, in-and-out procedure. However, people with diabetes need to be more careful when they’re considering getting LASIK, as the condition can make some aspects of surgery more complex.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when chronic high blood sugar damages the small blood vessels in the eye. As a result of that damage, the body responds by creating new blood vessels. But because the new vessels are fragile and prone to bleeding, they can grow to cover the retina and, in extreme cases, cause blindness.

Unfortunately, LASIK can’t correct this problem — the retina is in the back of the eye, but LASIK only reshapes the front of the eye. Before going ahead with LASIK, your doctor will need to determine the specific source of your vision problems — as long as they’re not caused by diabetic retinopathy, LASIK usually remains a good option.

High Blood Sugar

Elevated blood sugar is one of the most well-known symptoms of diabetes, but you may not have been aware that it can extend LASIK recovery time. Surgeons tend to be hesitant to operate on patients with high blood sugar regardless of the specific procedure. This is because elevated blood sugar makes it more difficult for wounds to heal, prolonging recovery time. Some surgeons may insist that LASIK candidates with diabetes have Intralase, a premium and bladeless form of LASIK that generally has a shorter recovery time.

That being said, if you have your blood sugar under control for an extended period of time, diabetes likely will not disqualify you from getting LASIK.

Fluctuating Prescription

LASIK surgery works by changing the shape of your cornea in order to improve your vision, but this can be difficult in patients with diabetes. Because blood sugar levels can cause your vision prescription to fluctuate, your doctor may have some difficulty in determining how to best reshape your cornea. Fortunately, many people with diabetes can work to reduce this problem by being especially vigilant about keeping their blood sugar stabilized for the time leading up to their surgery.

For most people with well-controlled diabetes, LASIK is an excellent option for correcting most vision problems. An eye doctor is the best resource for deciding if LASIK is right for you; a qualified eye care professional can also advise you on next steps toward addressing diabetes-related concerns before a LASIK procedure. Take the first step towards a life free from glasses and contacts, and schedule an appointment with the Swagel Wootton Eye institute at our Mesa or Chandler locations today.