Ask the Expert: If I’ve had LASIK surgery, can I have cataract surgery?

Answers provided by Dr. Mitchell Gossman, M.D., ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud


If I’ve had LASIK surgery, can I have cataract surgery?


The short answer is: YES.


LASIK surgery involves reshaping the cornea with a laser to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses. It corrects the “refractive error” that causes blurred vision, which is usually corrected with glasses and contacts.


LASIK started become widespread around the year 2000, and many of these patients are now developing cataracts. They’re not only losing their good vision without glasses, they’re also losing vision that can’t be improved with glasses unless cataract surgery is done. For those who want cataract surgery to improve their vision, they are often wanting that good vision back without glasses.

LASIK surgery involves reshaping the cornea with a laser to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses. Stock photo

In the early days of cataract surgery after LASIK, surgeons started noticing that many patients had a significant need for glasses after surgery. Normally after cataract surgery, the need for glasses is less, not more. It gradually became apparent that the problem is that formulas and measurements being used to plan cataract surgery were not very good for an eye that’s had LASIK surgery. It’s a complex story, but the good news is that devices used to measure the eye prior to cataract surgery, which is needed to calculate the power of the lens implant, have improved, and more importantly, the lens implant power formulas have been adapted to work quite well for patients who’ve had LASIK.


It is true that the likelihood of needing glasses after cataract surgery with prior LASIK is not quite as good as the eye that has not had LASIK, but we’ve come a long way with this precision compared to the 2000s.


Is it possible to do LASIK surgery if I have cataracts?


It is possible to do LASIK surgery on an eye with cataracts, but often it’s not recommended because the glasses prescription often changes fast as the cataract progresses, and the cataract itself will blur the vision. Both issues will eliminate the financial investment you’ve made to have that good, clear vision without glasses.


Is it possible to have LASIK surgery if I’ve had cataract surgery?


Yes, if you’re not happy with the vision you have without glasses, and you’ve had cataract surgery already, it’s usually possible to do LASIK surgery to improve your vision without glasses. There is one exception: LASIK surgery cannot improve ability of the eye to focus up close without glasses if you currently see well in the distance. This is an oversimplification, and something best discussed during an in-office consultation.


Find Out More

Dr. Mitchell Gossman is a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. The office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email info@eaofcm.com.


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