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Are Annual Eye Exams Recommended After LASIK?

In a word: yes.

Sometimes the answer surprises LASIK patients.  After all, the goal of LASIK is to live life as glasses free as possible. So why go to an eye doctor if you don’t need glasses or contact lenses to see clearly?

The reason is simple: When you have your peepers examined by a licensed eye doc, the comprehensive exam is doing a lot more than checking whether or not you need glasses or contact lenses.  They are also determining whether your eyes are healthy.

Good vision, with or without glasses or contact lenses, are the result of a healthy visual system and the correct shape of the eye itself as well as the lens of the eye.  If a person’s eyes are healthy but they cannot see clearly, the majority of the time the cause is what’s called a refractive error.

Refractive errors are not generally considered eye diseases but rather a disorder resulting from what is essentially a mismatch between the length of the eye and the shape and curvature of lenses in the front part of the eye that focus light.

So if the eye is like a camera, which is actually a pretty good analogy, with a refractive error you have a camera that is in good shape, it just is not focusing properly because the lenses aren’t right.

Glasses and contact lenses correct refractive errors – nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism – by compensating for the out-of-focus lenses by placing additional lenses in front of the eye.  It is like adding lenses on top of the existing lenses on your camera.

LASIK is designed to correct refractive errors by adjusting the shape and curvature of the outermost lens of the eye, called the cornea.

Back to the camera analogy, LASIK is like adjusting the curvature and shape of the front lens of the camera so that no add-on lenses are needed to get a good, clear picture.

But a camera has more parts than just the lenses.  The outer casing, moving parts, and the inside technology are all essential parts to a good, working camera. So the entire camera is important to care for.  A comprehensive eye exam is like a routine checkup for a camera to make sure that all parts are working properly, not just the lenses.

Your visual system has even more parts than a camera does, and can also be affected by systemic problems that affect the rest of your body.  Here are just a couple “parts of your camera” that are important to monitor with regular eye exams in order to try and keep them healthy.

Continuing with to the camera analogy, the retina is like the inside technology of a camera that captures the focused light. The retina is one of the parts of the eye that is examined in a comprehensive eye exam.  The retina is affected by diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes.

Sometimes patients do not know they have diabetes and their eye doctor is the first to notice changes to the retina and help their patients identify and diagnose diabetes early, allowing the patient to begin treatment sooner.

Similarly, early diagnosis of macular degeneration and glaucoma are critical to help slow and hopefully prevent vision loss.

Dry eye issues are also very commonplace, especially in dry climates like Colorado.

Back to our camera analogy, dry eye problems can disrupt the smoothness and clarity of the lens, like taking pictures with a lens that has smudges, scratches, or even little pits on the surface.  The whole camera actually works well, but the image coming in is distorted by the imperfections on the surface of the lens.

A properly equipped and trained eye doctor can effectively identify and treat dry eye problems to help clear up the picture.

Whether you need glasses or contacts, if you have good vision naturally, or if you now have good vision via LASIK, it is important to keep an eye on the health of your eyes and visit your eye doctor on a regular basis.

Said a bit differently, we recommend taking good care of your entire camera, so you can keep on enjoying the pictures around you.

If you have any questions about whether 20/20 LASIK is right for you, or if you would be better served by another way to help improve your vision, please give us a call at 303.202.0669 or have us contact you.

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