Diabetes is increasingly common in the UK, with as many as 1 in 17 individuals thought to be affected. It’s a serious condition that brings extra complications, so patients are often automatically refused laser eye surgery simply because they have diabetes. But with the right technology and expertise, laser vision correction could still be a possibility, depending on your particular medical history and circumstances. Let’s take a look at the practicalities of undergoing laser eye surgery if you have diabetes.
Can I have laser eye surgery if I am diabetic?
In many cases, with good management, being diabetic doesn’t need to stop you from living a normal life. Many people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have successfully undergone laser vision correction.
Before getting the go-ahead, however, you’ll need to have a check-up to ensure that you are medically fit to undergo laser eye surgery. With diabetes, there are two extra factors to check:
- Stable sugar levels. Alongside all the usual contraindications, your surgeon will need to know that your diabetes is well-controlled. Without stable blood sugars, it’s difficult to measure your refractive errors accurately, which is vital if your laser treatment is to last a lifetime.
- Diabetic retinopathy. This is a serious condition affecting the blood vessels supplying the retina, which can lead to sight loss. If you have damage caused by diabetic retinopathy, this must be treated before you are considered for laser eye surgery.
How diabetes could affect your recovery
One consequence of having diabetes is that surgery carries extra risk. Laser eye surgery is a relatively low-risk procedure to start with, but before opting for the procedure, it’s important to consider how diabetes could affect your recovery.
If you have diabetes, you may have noticed that cuts and scrapes take longer to heal. That’s because higher-than-normal blood sugar affects your body’s ability to repair itself. This doesn’t immediately rule out laser treatment as a possibility, but you’ll need to factor in a longer recovery time.
Many patients with diabetes have excellent outcomes from laser eye surgery. If you would like to be considered, make an appointment with your GP to confirm that your blood sugar levels are stable, before talking to your ophthalmologist.
In some cases, health concerns, diabetic retinopathy or unstable sugar levels may mean you are not currently a suitable candidate for this type of procedure. If so, there may be alternative forms of treatment open to you; speak to a surgeon with expertise in diabetes to plan the right vision correction plan for you.