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Cataract Surgery After LASIK: What You Need to Know


Embarking on a journey towards clear vision can often involve multiple steps. For those who have previously undergone LASIK surgery, the path towards cataract surgery can seem complex and daunting. As an ophthalmologist with extensive experience in both LASIK and cataract surgery, I’ve guided numerous patients through this unique journey. This article aims to provide you with a an understanding of what to expect when considering cataract surgery after LASIK.

Understanding the Eye Post-LASIK

LASIK surgery is a popular procedure that corrects vision by reshaping the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. However, this reshaping can introduce changes that need to be taken into account when considering future eye surgeries, such as cataract surgery.

Key changes include:

  • Corneal Thickness: LASIK surgery involves creating a flap in the cornea and removing some corneal tissue to correct the eye’s focus. This process inevitably leads to a thinner cornea.
  • Corneal Curvature: The curvature of the cornea can also change, affecting how light enters the eye.

These changes are important to consider because they can affect the accuracy of measurements taken during the preoperative assessment for cataract surgery. These measurements are crucial for determining the power of the intraocular lens (IOL) that will replace the cloudy lens during cataract surgery.

Preoperative Considerations for Cataract Surgery Post-LASIK

When preparing for cataract surgery after LASIK, it’s crucial to take into account the changes in the eye caused by the LASIK procedure. This is something I always emphasize to my patients during our preoperative discussions.

Key considerations include:

  • Eye Measurements: One of the main challenges is obtaining accurate eye measurements. The changes in corneal thickness and curvature caused by LASIK can affect measurements like keratometry (which measures the curvature of the cornea) and axial length (the length of the eye from front to back). These measurements are used to calculate the power of the IOL that will be implanted during cataract surgery.
  • IOL Calculations: To address this challenge, I use advanced biometry devices that can provide accurate measurements even in post-LASIK eyes. I combine this with IOL formulas that are specifically designed for patients that have had previous eye surgery like LASIK, PRK, or RK. Additionally, although not mandatory, I take into account the patient’s pre-LASIK measurements, if available, to help select the most precise IOL formula.

Extensive research has been performed on the difficulty of IOL power predication in patients that have had prior refractive surgery like LASIK or PRK. This research has significantly helped bridge the gap and improve outcomes for patients.

In my experience, careful preoperative assessment and planning are key to achieving optimal outcomes in cataract surgery after LASIK. It’s part of my commitment to providing personalized care to each of my patients, taking into account their unique eye characteristics and vision needs.

Intraocular Lens (IOL) Choices for Post-LASIK Patients

Choosing the right intraocular lens (IOL) is a significant decision in the cataract surgery process, especially for patients who have previously undergone LASIK. The IOL type can greatly impact your vision quality post-surgery. Here are the options:

  • Monofocal Lenses: These lenses provide clear vision at one distance, usually far.
  • Multifocal Lenses: These lenses can provide clear vision at multiple distances. Patients will notice some rings and mini starbursts around oncoming headlights and streetlights at night.
  • Extended Depth Lenses: These lenses can provide clear vision at multiple distances, with emphasis on distance and intermediate. Night vision quality remains good.
  • Toric Lenses: These lenses are designed to correct astigmatism. These can come is both monofocal, extended depth, and multifocal options.

However, LASIK-induced changes in the cornea can limit the IOL choices for some patients. For instance, multifocal IOLs, which provide clear vision at different distances, may not be suitable for patients with significant post-LASIK corneal changes. These implants are sensitive to pre-existing imperfections with eye, which can occur post-LASIK.

In my practice, I carefully evaluate each patient’s eye health, vision needs, and lifestyle to recommend the most suitable IOL type. I also discuss the potential benefits and limitations of each IOL type with my patients, ensuring they are well-informed about their choices. A thorough understanding is important because these implants are designed to remain for life.

Outcomes of Cataract Surgery After LASIK

In general, patients who have undergone LASIK can expect good outcomes from cataract surgery. However, it’s important to note that the vision correction achieved with LASIK may not be exactly replicated after cataract surgery. Some patients may still need glasses for certain activities after surgery.

Despite employing the most accurate intraocular lens (IOL) formulas, there is a possibility of undercorrection or overcorrection following cataract surgery. This could result in a residual prescription or refractive error, necessitating the use of glasses or contact lenses. In some cases, a secondary procedure such as a LASIK enhancement or an IOL exchange might be required to fully correct the vision.

I try to help patients understand that correcting vision with cataract surgery after LASIK is a process. Although, it might take longer to recover compared to patients that have not had LASIK, the end result in vision is usually very good.


Undergoing cataract surgery after LASIK presents distinctive considerations and challenges. It’s important for patients to understand that vision correction post-LASIK is a process that may require a longer recovery period compared to those who haven’t had LASIK. However, the ultimate outcome is typically very satisfactory.

As an experienced ophthalmologist, my commitment is to provide personalized care and comprehensive education to my patients, guiding them confidently through this journey. With meticulous planning and expert care, we can successfully restore vision following LASIK and cataract surgery.

FAQs About Cataract Surgery with LASIK

  • Can I have cataract surgery if I’ve already had LASIK?

    Yes, you can have cataract surgery after having LASIK. However, it’s important to note that LASIK changes the shape of your cornea, which can affect the measurements used to calculate the power of the intraocular lens (IOL) implanted during cataract surgery. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose an experienced ophthalmologist who is familiar with these considerations.

  • Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery if I’ve had LASIK?

    While cataract surgery can significantly improve your vision, some patients may still need glasses for certain activities, especially if there is a residual prescription or refractive error after surgery. This is true even for patients who have previously had LASIK. The type of implant you chose with cataract surgery will determine your need for glasses.

  • What type of IOL is best for patients who have had LASIK?

    The choice of IOL depends on several factors, including the patient’s eye health, vision needs, and lifestyle. However, LASIK-induced changes in the cornea can limit the IOL choices for some patients. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the potential benefits and limitations of each IOL type with you to help you make an informed decision.

  • Is the recovery time longer for cataract surgery after LASIK?

    The recovery process for cataract surgery after LASIK may take longer compared to those who haven’t had LASIK. Sometimes, a second procedure is required to optimize the patients results. However, with careful postoperative care and follow-up visits, patients can expect successful vision restoration.