The word “candidate” usually evokes ideas and images about politicians, campaigns, and elections. The field of laser vision correction has its candidate selection process too, but it has nothing to do with politics!

Although LASIK can be very successful when performed on the right patients, it may not be for everyone. Generally, the best candidates for LASIK laser eye surgery are people who have healthy eyes, have not had a previous eye surgery, and want to correct myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. They must also have stable vision for at least one year prior to LASIK surgery. Patients whose corneas are too thin may be candidates for other laser surgeries. People with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications may not be eligible for LASIK.

A recent, major advance in LASIK laser eye surgery, wavefront technology may be better for any LASIK candidate, but it can also be a requirement for people who have complicated prescriptions. By measuring the whole eye and providing a three-dimensional corneal map, wavefront technology provides the surgeon with literally a map of all abnormalities, irregularities, or optical aberrations, of the eye, allowing the surgeon to correct the patient’s vision, however complicated the prescription, as near perfectly as possible. Whether a patient is nearsighted or farsighted, or has astigmatism, wavefront technology also makes possible corrections for contrast sensitivity, night vision, depth perception, and light sensitivity.

Some patients may only be eligible candidates for photo-ablative inlay (PAI) LASIK, which of course would be determined by the surgeon. PAI LASIK was very recently invented to help improve LASIK results for correcting higher degrees of refractive errors than those of candidates who are only suitable for wavefront technology. This process involves creating a flap in the cornea, placing a synthetic PAI on the cornea, and then performing the excimer laser correction on the PAI (instead of directly on the cornea). This process involves little if any affect on the cornea itself. If a patient’s vision naturally worsens, the PAI can be removed and another one can be inlayed again and LASIK performed for a different correction.

Last but not least, for patients to fine-tune their prospects for LASIK candidacy ahead of time, they can take a pre-screening test such as the one available at http://www.allaboutvision.com/visionsurgery/am-i-a-lasik-candidate.htm. You may find the results helpful, such as:

“If you are considering LASIK, see a qualified eye care professional and have a thorough eye examination, including tests which will help determine whether or not LASIK is right for you. Only this type of thorough assessment can accurately determine if you are a candidate for LASIK. During your examination and consultation, you may discover factors of which you were unaware at the time you took this test, which make you a poorer, or a better, LASIK candidate.”