Can you get both Lasik and cataracts surgery at the same time or do they need to heal separately first?

There is really no situation where you might need to have LASIK and cataract surgery performed at the same time. While it comes as a surprise to many, our eyes each have TWO focusing elements: 1) the "crystalline" (natural) lens, sitting right behind the pupil and 2) the cornea, the clear dome sitting over the iris and pupil. [Yes, the cornea is a lens.]

LASIK reshapes the cornea, changing its focusing ability so as to correct conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) -LASIK does not change the natural lens of the eye. A "cataract operation" is easier to understand if you think of it as the removal of the aging natural lens and its replacement with a new artificial lens implant (an IntraOcular Lens or IOL). The latter has a prescription (we call it the "power") that we can select in advance (just like a spectacle lens or contact lens).

If for example you were -3.00 Diopters myopic (nearsighted), and if your natural lens had a power of +20.00 Diopters, we might replace the old natural lens (the cataract) with a lens implant (IOL) that was +17.00 D. Doing this would get rid of your myopia and the cataract at the same time! So there would be no need to also correct the -3.00 D. of myopia by lasering the cornea at another time.

There may be situations where performing some small degree of laser correction on the cornea after having had a cataract/IOL procedure is a good idea -but this is quite rare.

J.Trevor Woodhams,M.D. - Chief of Surgery, Woodhams Eye Clinic