Can autoimmune diseases make you unsuitable for laser eye surgery?

Posted on

03 February 2022

Author: Kate Green

autoimmune conditions laser eye surgery

What is an autoimmune disease?


An autoimmune disease is a condition whereby your body attacks your organs and tissues, mistaking healthy cells for foreign cells. There are a number of different autoimmune diseases and patients who have an autoimmune condition generally have a higher risk of infection. This can complicate the healing process for many illnesses, injuries or surgeries, including the recovery period for laser eye surgery. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Coeliac disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psoriasis


Today, we’re going to discuss Crohn’s disease and lupus, and how they can affect your suitability for laser eye surgery. We have also previously written about rheumatoid arthritis on our blog which you can read further information on here.


How does Crohn’s disease affect laser eye surgery suitability?


Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the intestines, resulting in discomfort, cramps and a severely upset stomach. Some people who suffer with Crohn’s disease need surgery to manage to condition, while others take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce their symptoms. Unfortunately, 12% of people with Crohn’s disease suffer with eye problems. This is because tissues in the eye are similar to tissues in other parts of your body, so ‘inflammatory diseases that affect other organs, such as the bowel in Crohn’s disease, will affect the eye as well’.


If your Crohn’s disease flares up on surgery day or during your laser eye surgery recovery period, it can have a very negative impact on your healing process. For laser and lens procedures, the recovery plays a crucial part in your final result, so a flare-up following treatment could result in a poor visual outcome. Medications prescribed to people with Crohn’s disease can also result in dry eyes, a factor which can exclude you from being suitable for laser eye surgery. Further to this, some patients take corticosteroids to manage their inflammation, but one of the side effects of this can be an increased risk of infection. Again, this can have a very negative impact on your overall visual result following laser eye surgery.

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Can you have laser eye surgery if you have lupus?


Lupus is an autoimmune condition which causes different parts of the body to become inflamed. The condition has varying levels of severity and can flare up at different periods. People with lupus often suffer with dry eyes, making them unsuitable for laser eye surgery. They are also more likely to develop dry eyes after laser eye surgery, interrupting the healing process and bringing some discomfort. For this reason, we usually wouldn’t recommend that somebody with lupus has laser eye surgery, just as we wouldn’t recommend it some somebody who already suffers with dry eyes prior to treatment. Some lupus medications can also impair healing as a side effect, again having a negative impact on the laser eye surgery recovery process.


Ultimately, if you have lupus, your suitability for laser eye surgery depends on how much medication you are taking for the condition, and whether you have experienced a flare-up recently. You can come into any of our clinics for a free consultation to check your suitability and talk with an optometrist about your treatment path.


What other factors can make you unsuitable for laser eye surgery?


We have fairly strict criteria at Optimax for patient suitability, because we truly have the patients’ best interests at heart. Certain medical conditions can make it harder for you to recover following treatment, or to ensure that you have a smooth healing period.


The following medical conditions may mean that you can’t have treatment but this can only be confirmed at a consultation in person:

  • Blepharitis (eye infections) – you need to be clear of infection at time of treatment
  • Increased eye pressure – your eye pressure needs to be under control
  • Dry eyes and epilepsy, depending on the status of the condition
  • Diabetes – OK if well-controlled and if you have healthy retinas
  • Very large pupils with high correction
  • Your prescription is low (under 0.75) and you do not have astigmatism
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding – please wait 3 months after giving birth or finishing breastfeeding (whichever is most recent)
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You are unlikely to be suitable for treatment if you suffer with:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, SLE or lupus
  • Keratoconus
  • Macular degeneration
  • Crohn’s or collagen disease
  • Blindness in one eye or partial sightedness
  • Glaucoma
  • Herpes of the eye
  • Iritis
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • A squint or prism which can’t be corrected by contact lenses


If you’re considering laser or lens surgery and you’re not sure if you’re suitable, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to advise you on the phone (0800 093 1110) or by email ( to have a chat about your suitability for treatment.

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