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The Fundamental LASIK Requirements: Are You Eligible?

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The LASIK success rate hovers at around 99 percent. It’s very safe and effective. But the best surgeries take place in patients who are healthy and ready for the procedure.

Your doctor will perform a detailed exam before scheduling LASIK surgery, measuring your tissue thickness, tear production, physical health, and more. At the end of these tests, your doctor will tell you if you’re eligible for surgery.

What Are the Top Qualifications for LASIK?

LASIK is a surgical corneal-reshaping procedure that allows for clearer vision and a reduced dependence on glasses or contacts. You must have impaired vision to even consider LASIK. But your doctor needs to understand even more about your eye health before moving ahead with surgery.

Doctors use some guidelines in early LASIK assessments. You must meet the following criteria:

  • Healthy, stable eyes: Your prescription hasn’t changed in at least a year (ideally two or more), and your eyes are clear and healthy. You also don’t have severe symptoms of dry eye that can’t be resolved with treatment.
  • Relatively good vision quality: You don’t deal with glare, haloes, or starbursts impeding your vision, especially at night. 
  • Thick corneas: The tissues at the front of your eyes aren’t thin or misshapen. 
  • Average pupils: You don’t have very large pupils that extend to the edges of your eyes.

This is a short list of qualifications, and your doctor has many more tests to run before surgery starts. But this quick list can help you understand if LASIK might be right for you.

Eye and Prescription Requirements for LASIK

Everyone considering LASIK struggles to see clearly, but LASIK isn’t the right surgical procedure for everyone. Very strong prescriptions could indicate that a different technique is the right choice for you.

LASIK Eligibility Requirements

LASIK is typically recommended for people with measurements up to
the following:

  • 6 diopters of hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • 6 diopters of astigmatism (irregular corneal shape)
  • 12 diopters of myopia (nearsightedness)

You must have what experts call a stable prescription that hasn’t changed. Instability is more common in these people:

  • In their 20s or younger 
  • With diabetes
  • Who are pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • Taking medications that change their vision

Your doctor can measure your vision and assess your medical records to ensure you meet these requirements.

Eye Conditions Impacting LASIK Eligibility

During your pre-LASIK exam, your doctor will assess your eyes very carefully. Some medical conditions can impair your healing, and they could prompt your doctor to consider a different surgical method. 

Eye health issues that could keep you from LASIK include the following:

  • Dry eyes: Conditions such as dry eye can be exacerbated by LASIK surgery and should be treated before considering surgery. 
  • Thin corneas: Since LASIK surgery cuts away part of the cornea, it is important that your cornea is thick enough and provides enough material to work with. LASIK may not be ideal if the cornea is misshapen or too thin.
  • Pupil size: Large pupils are sometimes not good candidates for LASIK, as this can increase possible side effects after the surgery, such as blurry vision or poor night vision. Large pupils do not always disqualify you from LASIK, but your doctor must use advanced technology to help correct your vision.
  • Eye health: Conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, eye infections, and injuries can interfere with LASIK surgery and recovery.

Some of these issues are treatable. For example, your doctor could help you improve your tear health or quantity to prepare you for surgery. But others could prompt your doctor to look for new ways to fix your vision.

Further Considerations Prior to Committing to LASIK

LASIK is a permanent surgical procedure, capable of changing your vision for the rest of your life. Before you commit to LASIK, your doctor will ask about a few other factors.

Your doctor might ask about the following:

An opthamologist is listening to the patient in an exam room.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as immunosuppressive drugs, can decrease the functions of your immune system and raise the risk factors of surgeries like LASIK.
  • Physical health: Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, AIDs, and type 1 diabetes could impair your healing. Hormonal changes from pregnancy and nursing could alter the shape of the cornea, leading to temporary vision changes.
  • Contact sports: If you regularly participate in football, hockey, wrestling, or other physical activities, blows to the face could harm your LASIK site and vision. 
  • Employment: Even though the risks are negligible, some professions will not allow these types of procedures. Be sure to check with your employer prior to committing to permanent refractive eye correction to ensure that this is not a condition of employment.
  • Cost: Many insurance plans won’t cover all LASIK fees. Ensure you can pay for surgery before it starts. Check if your insurance offers discount plans for LASIK, so you pay less than the standard price for your surgery.


  1. Laser In Situ Keratomileusis. (July 2022). StatPearls.
  2. When Is LASIK Not for Me? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  3. Refractive Surgery in Systemic and Autoimmune Disease. (January–March 2014). Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology.

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