Can LASIK cure my migraines?

The answer on whether LASIK can help with that is slightly more complicated than a simple “no.” Written by Joel Hunter, MD

Joel Hunter, MD
Joel Hunter, MD
Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 05/10/21 10:00 AM

In short, no, LASIK can’t cure migraines. But neither can a bandage heal a wound. For our bodies to heal, we can only set the stage and let the vast and detailed work of our biochemistry see it through. The answer on whether LASIK can help with that is slightly more complicated than a simple “no.”

First off, a true migraine — caused by the constriction and usually subsequent over-dilation of the blood vessels in our brain — is regulated by hormones and signalling molecules that originate from many places. The eye isn’t one of those places. That’s important to know because it means there’s not an off switch in the eye that we can activate for migraine relief. 

Those signalling molecules, however, are released in response to different inputs. So even if they’re originating in the adrenal gland, vascular endothelium, or some other place, that “release order” is coming from somewhere else. It may come from mental stress. It may come from inflammation in your body. It can even come from other signalling molecules, because many of them talk to each other.

In that way, visual strain can play a role. I’ve had many patients with pre-existing migraine conditions get LASIK, and so far there have only been two results. It did nothing for the migraines one way or the other, or it helped. As of yet (knock on wood), I’ve not met a patient who had LASIK and experienced a worsening of migraines.

But that makes sense. If visual strain is relieved, it makes sense that one less source of stress on the body could be helpful. If the migraines are completely unrelated to visual strain, then we’d expect no change at all. And that’s what I’ve seen. Interestingly, I’ve seen it help more often than it doing nothing. But lest I seem like a snake oil salesman offering, “LASIK to cure all maladies: dropsy, migraines, and fatigue,” I’ll stick with my first answer. LASIK cannot cure migraines. But it can cure eye strain! And sometimes, some nice bonus benefits show up with that relief.

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