What If I’m Not A LASIK Candidate?

Young man researching LASIK

Most people who get screened for LASIK qualify for the surgery. For the most part, if you’re 21 or older and in good health, you’ll be a good LASIK candidate.

But there are a couple of other factors that may disqualify you. If your corneas are too thin or your prescription is too strong, LASIK may mean removing too much tissue. This would be unsafe in some cases.

But if you don’t qualify for LASIK you don’t have to settle for glasses or contacts. There are alternatives!

Many practices that offer LASIK also offer LASIK alternatives. Keep reading to learn more!


Like LASIK, PRK is a surgery that uses a laser to reshape your cornea to correct your vision. The difference?

Instead of creating a corneal flap with LASIK, PRK removes the thin epithelial layer of the eye. The cornea is then shaped with the excimer laser and the epithelium is left to regenerate.

The healing time for PRK is longer, so LASIK is often preferred for many patients. PRK is actually a much older procedure than LASIK, as it was the first laser eye surgery.

It’s still offered today and can be a good option for people whose corneas are too thin to make a corneal flap.


SMILE stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction. It’s a procedure that creates a lenticule, which is a lens-shaped piece of tissue. This is directly under the surface of the retina.

The size of the lenticule is made to remove the amount of tissue necessary to correct your vision. This method is less invasive than LASIK as only a tiny incision is needed.

A femtosecond laser creates the lenticule. It’s then removed through a tiny incision in the cornea. SMILE has its limitations and less correction ability when compared to LASIK.

But it’s also less invasive. SMILE also requires less corneal thickness than LASIK does. This makes SMILE a viable option for patients who have thinner corneas.

Implantable Contact Lenses

An implantable contact lens, or ICL, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a contact lens inserted in the eye and then left in your eye to correct vision.

The lens is then inserted behind the iris and will last a lifetime. It is also removable, making the procedure completely reversible. This is not the case with a procedure like LASIK, which is permanent.

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange, or RLE, is like an ICL. The difference is RLE removes the eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens or IOL.

This is almost identical to how cataract surgery works, but you can have RLE even if you don’t have cataracts. It also prevents you from ever getting cataracts since your natural lens must be removed.

This is often a good option for older patients who want to correct their presbyopia and avoid dealing with cataracts later on.

Considering LASIK or one of these alternatives? Contact New England Eye Center in Boston, MA to schedule an appointment today!

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