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I’ve been told I can’t have laser eye surgery

Laser eye surgery isn’t for everyone, but there are only a limited number of reasons why it may really not be suitable for you. Here are a few scenarios to help you work out fact from fiction.

Too young

You need to be aged 18 or above to be treated. Younger than this age, and your prescription may not be stable. Many short-sighted (myopic) patients find their prescription increases through their teens and, for some, in to their early 20s. If you’re under 21, we’ll need to see two years of stable spectacle prescriptions from your optician before proceeding with treatment. If you had treatment without first confirming that your prescription had stabilised, you run risk of wasting your money by finding yourself back in glasses or contact lenses within a few years.

Too old

There’s no upper age limit for laser eye surgery. Many patients in their 50s or 60s have been able to do away with glasses or contact lenses through LASIK. By this age, both distance and reading glasses are usually necessary. LASIK mini-monovision can do away with both these problems, by fully correcting the vision in one eye, while bringing the focal point for the other eye within an arm’s length. This setup has been successfully used by high-street opticians prescribing soft contact lenses for years. During your initial consultation with our specialist optometrists, we’ll test your eyes to simulate mini-monovision to confirm if this would work for you.

Prescription too high

You’re likely to be suitable for laser eye surgery if your glasses prescription is less than -10 (short-sighted), less than +6.00 (long-sighted) and less than 6.00 diopters (steps) of astigmatism. If your prescription is above these limits, laser eye surgery is best avoided. As an alternative, you may be suitable for Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL). These are also known as implantable contact lenses (ICL) and can treat up to +10 and -18, with up to 6 diopters of astigmatism.

Corneas too thin

The clear window at the front of the eye (cornea) is typically about half a millimetre thick at the centre. Some normal corneas are thicker than others. Both LASIK and LASEK work by shaving off a fraction from near the top of the cornea. If your cornea is already thin to start with, it may not be safe to thin it even more with laser treatment. If laser isn’t an option, implantable contact lenses (ICL) can work very well.

Dry Eyes

Discomfort wearing contact lenses due to dry eyes is one of the most common reasons for seeking laser eye surgery. In most cases, laser surgery can still be performed - treatment to improve the ocular surface may be required prior to surgery to optimise the results. If you do have true dry eye syndrome, Daniel may advise against laser eye surgery. This is because laser treatment could make your symptoms worse. If laser eye surgery is contraindicated, implantable contact lenses (ICL) can be a great option. Same vision results, but none of the risks of making your dry eye condition worse.


Keratoconus means that your corneas are too steep, too thin and too weak for normal laser eye surgery to be a safe option. Daniel Gore has co-developed the latest laser eye surgery protocols for Keratoconus at Moorfields Eye Hospital, in which a bespoke treatment is performed to sharpen vision with less ghosting and blurring. The laser treatment is combined with an ultraviolet light treatment called cross-linking to strengthen and stabilise the new corneal shape for the longer term. This treatment often improves the focusing ability of the eyes, and usually also reduces spectacle and soft contact lens prescriptions. For patients with very mild keratoconus, treatment can sometimes improve vision such that glasses are no longer needed.