Requirements For Laser Eye Surgery

What Makes a Suitable Candidate For Laser Eye Surgery?

With in excess of 100,000 adults across the UK benefiting from refractive laser eye surgery annually, there seems to be no shortage of prospective patients wanting to undergo this popular eye correction procedure, but are all candidates suitable? Will all achieve safe and effective results from their operation?

There are certain criteria which reputable professional providers will insist upon being met prior to undertaking laser eye surgery. These include:

  • The candidate should be a minimum of 18 years of age and have had a stable ocular prescription for at least 12 months. Under the age of 18 the eyesight will still be developing, making it impossible for the optometrist to determine the appropriate parameters for a suitable laser eye correction. Older candidates may also find themselves unsuitable due to the higher chances of developing cataracts or other age related conditions which would make a correction inadvisable.
  • Anyone suffering from a history of corneal disease or with conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, corneal ulceration or Keratoconus (corneal thinning) will also not be considered as viable laser eye correction candidates.
  • Individuals who have specific auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus may find that their natural healing process could be compromised and that refractive eye correction will not provide a viable option for them. No reputable professional provider will ever recommend any procedure which may have a negative impact on a patient's daily general health or ability to function.
  • Pregnant women or those still nursing should also wait for their laser eye procedure as hormonal fluctuations during and after pregnancy have been known to alter the ocular prescription of an individual, making it difficult to evaluate an effective correction.
  • If you have uncontrolled diabetes you might be ineligible for laser eye surgery however if your diabetes in controlled you may still be suitable. Either way you should have a quick chat with your optometrist who will be able to talk you through the various options available.

All prospective patients are cautioned that they should be realistic about the outcome of their operation. Despite the improvement to vision, there may well be certain circumstances, such as when driving at night, when glasses will still be required. Their current prescription should also be within the limits determined by their individual surgeon or laser eye correction provider.

At an initial consultation an optometrist will perform an examination to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery. The majority of laser eye clinics across the UK offer a free initial consultation, why not fill in a few details at the top of the page to be matched with a number of clinics in your area who can tell you whether or not you qualify as a suitable candidate.

Valerie Saw – Am I A Good Candidate?

Watch Valerie Saw, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, explain who makes a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery:


Video Transcript

"There’s three main things that make someone a good candidate. Firstly having a prescription that’s in the recommended range within which the laser works best, so that would be shortsightedness or myopia up to minus ten in my practice. Long-sightedness or hyperopia up to plus four, and astigmatism up to plus four. If they have that glasses prescription that’s the first thing, the second thing is that they mustn’t have any contraindications to the surgery. I’ve mentioned a couple already so the cornea mustn’t be weak or have a weakness that’s detectable on the topography scan, such as ectasia which can mean that the eye will worsen after the laser surgery, or they don’t have very severe dry eye.

Then thirdly a good candidate is one who’s really stick about the likely outcomes and risks of the surgery, and someone who’s prepared to follow the instructions after the surgery."

Valerie Saw, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital


Choosing A Laser Eye Clinic

Not every clinic offers the same range of treatments and astigmatism or vision problems caused by the effects of ageing are considered specialist treatments and will not be offered everywhere. Some clinics may have to refer you to a specialist if their clinic does not have appropriate technology available, but this does not necessarily mean that a problem cannot be treated. It's important that you research and find the best laser eye surgery clinic for you.

Assessment Before Surgery

As soon as you step foot in a laser eye clinic you should be your optometrist will conduct a full peri-operative assessment on in order to decide upon your suitability for treatment. This may include tests for dry eye, pupil size and intra-ocular pressure, night vision and contrast sensitivity. It is at this time that the optometrist will refer you to another specialist clinic should they feel unable to treat a particular condition with the technology available at that particular clinic.

Should you want to find out a little more about the surgeon who will be performing your operation you will have ample opportunity to question him or her on their training in refractive surgery and ask them for case studies and testimonials from previous patients.

What Next?

We'll help you find quality laser eye surgery

Compare Prices

Before Laser Eye Surgery


Video Transcript

My name is Djalenga Scott, I’m 29 and I’m going to have LASEK eye surgery on Friday.

What Is Your Eyesight Like At the Moment?

I’ve got minus two in one eye and minus one point seven five in the other so I can see three meters probably, well I don’t even know if I can see three meters properly, maybe two and then anything further away from that is just a bit of a nightmare for me.

How Does Your Poor Eyesight Affect Your Life?

It’s very frustrating when you have to remember to take your glasses everywhere and I’m a very forgetful person, so I always forget. I’ll go see a show or something and I’ll get there, and I’m like “oh” don’t have my glasses. Watch the whole show, can’t see anyone’s face, it’s just a nightmare. I hate wearing contact lenses; they’re so uncomfortable so they’re just not an option for me.

Did You Know About LASEK Laser Eye Surgery Before Your Consultation?

I have talked to some friends who have sisters or friends of friends who have done it, and everyone says it’s quite a quick easy simple thing. I didn’t really think it would be something that would be possible for me or that I would even have the time to do it. I didn’t realize how quick the recovery time is, or I didn’t realize it was so easy.

What Are You Most Excited About?

Everything, just being able to actually realize when I know someone on the street and not say hello to strangers, or ignore people that I do actually know, would be quite nice.

Is There Anything You Are Worried About?

I’m worried about how painful it will be, or like how long it will take to recover but I think it’s natural to be a little bit nervous.

When is the Surgery?

So the surgery, what’s today – Monday, so this Friday. I’d like to just go (snap) and make it be a month down the line and just see everything perfectly. I can’t believe it’s quite real.


Who Is Suitable For LASIK Laser Eye Correction

Laser-assisted-in-situ-Keratomileusis (or LASIK) is the most widely performed eye correction procedure with 90% of candidates opting for the method. It can be used to treat low to moderate myopia (near-sightedness) where an individual will see close objects clearly but struggle to see distant objects, and hyperopia (far-sightedness) where distant objects are clearly seen but closer objects are blurred. It can also be used to correct astigmatism where the general vision of the patient will be impaired and all objects are indistinct.

What the LASIK procedure cannot help with is age related presbyopia which will normally occur in a person in their early to mid 40's and reach its extremity by the age of 60. Individuals will notice a gradual impairment of vision when focusing on nearby objects or small print and close work, and although the LASIK procedure can make an improvement to distance vision, it may well worsen the close vision of the presbyopia sufferer.

The only possible option for correction of this condition is to use the monovision technique which will correct one eye for far sightedness and the other for near sightedness, however these corrections are notoriously difficult to adjust to and not all candidates find themselves able to cope. Ocular professionals recommend that patients wear contact lenses for a trial period to see how they adapt prior to undergoing any permanent laser eye correction.

Who Could Benefit LASEK Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) is an older method of laser eye correction which has, in recent years, become less desirable due to the extended recovery period of 1-2 weeks (when compared to the LASIK recovery time of just 1-2 days). For some candidates, however, the LASEK technique provides the best and only option for a corneal correction procedure.

Those who suffer from a decrease in corneal strength (Keratoconus) or with a thin cornea will be unsuitable candidates for the LASIK procedure but may well prove suitable for LASEK. Also those who participate in contact sport such as boxing, rugby, wrestling or martial arts will find the LASEK technique a preferable option as any future trauma to the eye may well be exacerbated by the flap creation used in the LASIK method. As the tear reflex producing corneal nerves remain uncut during the LASEK technique, it also offers the ideal solution for those suffering from dry eye syndrome for whom LASIK surgery may be inadvisable.

What Next?

We'll help you find affordable clinics

Compare Quotes