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Is everyone suitable for laser eye surgery?


Is everyone suitable for laser eye surgery?

What is laser eye surgery?

Today, lasers are used by ophthalmologists in many surgical procedures. For example, lasers can be used to restore vision through laser eye surgery, refractive lens exchange and laser cataract surgery.

Laser eye surgery is used to describe procedures such as LASIK, ASLA (PRK) and SMILE®, which are used to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism.

However, while many people are suitable for laser eye surgery, there are certain people for whom it may not be appropriate.

Suitability for vision correction

If a person has had a stable prescription for 12 months, has an otherwise healthy eye and is in good general health, it is most likely that they are suitable for laser eye surgery.

Most people are suitable for LASIK. However, if a person has unusually thin or irregular corneas, the laser eye surgeon will recommend ASLA, while SMILE may be recommended for people with a high degree of short-sightedness.

Call us on 1800 1 LASER or take our online eligibility quiz (VIC|NSW|QLD) if you would like to book a free assessment for laser eye surgery.

Unsuitability for a laser vision correction procedure

The following MAY mean laser eye surgery is not appropriate for your situation:

Over the age of 40

Loss of your near vision (called presbyopia) is a natural part of ageing. It causes a person to gradually find it more and more difficult to read close-up items, such as menus or a mobile phone.

Your options: other than using reading glasses, people who suffer from presbyopia may be suitable for laser blended vision or a refractive lens exchange (also called laser lens surgery).

Under the age of 20

If you are under 20, your eye prescription is most likely still changing – this is normal. Laser eye surgeons want to ensure that your prescription has not changed for at least 12 months before surgery (this can occasionally occur for people under the age of 20).

Your options: be patient and wait until your prescription has stabilised.

Very high refractive errors

If a patient has a very high level of myopia or hyperopia, LASIK or ASLA may not be recommended (e.g. level of myopia between -8 and -20 diopters).

Your options: if SMILE is not suitable, a person with a high refractive error can have a Phakic IOL (also called an implantable contact lens) implanted in front of the natural lens of the eye.

An eye disorder or another condition

People with uncontrolled autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or a family history of keratoconus may be more prone to complications with laser eye surgery. People with diabetes or other health issues could be suitable, depending on their particular situation.

Your options: only a consultation with an ophthalmologist will confirm whether or not you qualify for a laser vision correction procedure.


A vision correction solution is available for the vast majority of people with otherwise healthy eyes, although it may not always be laser eye surgery. If you are interested in vision correction, book an appointment with one of our experienced refractive eye surgeons to find out what your options are.

Find out more about laser eye surgery

Find out more about the cost of laser eye surgery

SMILE® is a registered trademark of Carl Zeiss Meditec


  1. Choice. A guide to laser eye surgery. NSW, 11 August 2020. Available at https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/optical-and-hearing/optical/articles/guide-to-laser-eye-surgery [Accessed 6 January 2021].
  2. Healthdirect. Laser eye surgery. NSW, 2019. Available at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/laser-eye-surgery [Accessed 6 January 2021].
  3. Lawless M. Refractive Laser Surgery: Who’s Interested Now? mivision 2019;141:33–37.
  4. Wilkinson JM, Cozine EW, Kahn AR. Refractive Eye Surgery: Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions About LASIK. Am Fam Physician 2017;95(10):637–44.
  5. Somani SN, Moshirfar M, Patel BC. Photorefractive Keratectomy. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2020.
  6. Chan C, Lawless M, Sutton G, Versace P, Hodge C. Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) in 2015. Clin Exp Optom 2016;99(3):204–12.
  7. Doane JF, Cauble JE, Rickstrew JJ, Tuckfield JQ. Small Incision Lenticule Extraction SMILE – The Future of Refractive Surgery is Here. Mo Med 2018;115(1):82–4.

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The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

Date last reviewed: 2024-04-11 | Date for next review: 2026-04-11

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