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LASIK Eligibility Requirements: Are You a Candidate?

Fact Checked
Dr. Ngoc Trieu OD

Reviewed by
Ngoc Trieu, M.D. - Optometrist at NVISION Eye Centers

To benefit from LASIK surgery, you will need to a be candidate for the procedure. In some cases, even if you are not a candidate immediately, you can still get the procedure down the line.

woman at eye exam

LASIK eye surgery can correct refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea), even to a point where you no longer need prescription eyewear like contact lenses or eyeglasses. Most people (95 percent) are happy with LASIK surgery results.

It is a safe and effective corrective eye surgery with a fast recovery time and permanent results.

LASIK Surgery Candidate Criteria

To be a candidate for LASIK eye surgery, you need to meet the following criteria as defined by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO):

  • You need to be at least 18 years old and preferably over the age of 21 to ensure that your eyes have stopped changing.
  • Your refractive error needs to be in the range for LASIK correction, which is generally -13.0 diopters for myopia and + 6.0 diopters for hyperopia and astigmatism.
  • Your corrective eyewear prescription needs to be stable for at least a year (preferably two) before LASIK eye surgery.
  • Your corneas need to be thick enough for the flap to be created.
  • Your eye health and overall health should be good.

Who Is Not Eligible?

The best way to find out if you are a candidate for LASIK eye surgery is to gain approval from an experienced ophthalmologist who can perform a consultation.

Your eyes need to be healthy and free from conditions and eye diseases, such as severe cataracts, keratoconus, significant dry eyes, or certain optic nerve or retinal diseases to qualify for LASIK eye surgery.

If your eyes are not in the range for correction (as in, they require a higher degree of correction), you may be a better candidate for a different procedure such as ICL or RLE. There are some exceptions to this. You should talk to your doctor to determine which refractive surgery would best suit your eyes.

LASIK is able to help patients have functional vision. Monovision or blended vision may be a solution to being less dependent on reading glasses. Women who are pregnant or nursing should wait to get LASIK surgery, as hormones can influence the stability of your eye prescription.

Health conditions, including autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and immune deficiencies such as those caused by HIV, commonly make someone ineligible for LASIK, the FDA explains. Medications such as steroids or retinoic acid can also disqualify you from LASIK.

LASIK Consultation

The best way to find out if you are a candidate for LASIK eye surgery is to gain approval from an experienced ophthalmologist who can perform a consultation to determine if you are eligible. The doctor will do an eye exam, ask for your medical and eye health history, and run some tests during the consultation.

Your doctor will ask you questions like these:

  • When was the last time your eye prescription changed?
  • Do you suffer from chronic and significant dry eyes?
  • What health and eye conditions have you had or currently have?
  • Are you pregnant or nursing?
  • What types of medications do you take?
  • What is your lifestyle like? What is your career, exercise regime, and activity level?
  • What are your expectations for LASIK?

Are Requirements the Same for All Types of LASIK?

In general, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria for LASIK surgery regardless of the type you seek.

There are some forms of custom LASIK that can correct for a higher degree of refractive error. Wavefront-guided LASIK, for example, uses modern computer technology to map your eyes in a comprehensive manner, which can then guide the laser to a higher degree and more specific correction.

LASIK can also be done with a microkeratome blade to create the flap in your cornea or the femtosecond laser. The bladeless technique can allow for a thinner cornea than the manual blade version of LASIK.

Talk to your doctor to find out what type of LASIK is best for you and your eyes.

References

  1. What Is LASIK Eye Surgery? (August 2020). JAMA Network.

  2. LASIK – Laser Eye Surgery. (October 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  3. When Is LASIK Not for Me? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drink Administration (FDA).

Last Updated February 26, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.