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Am I a candidate for LASIK?

If you are considering LASIK eye surgery, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “How do I know if I qualify for LASIK eye surgery?” As a form of refractive surgery, LASIK corrects nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism reducing or eliminating the need for eyeglasses or corrective contact lenses. Unfortunately, LASIK does not correct the need for reading glasses as a result of aging (presbyopia).

There are many factors considered by an ophthalmologist when determining if you are a candidate for LASIK.

Is LASIK Vision Correction the right path for you?

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Basic Requirements:

  • Age: Typically, patients can get LASIK surgery at age eighteen or older.

  • Stable Vision: Patients should have relatively stable vision. Stable vision is considered little to no change in prescription for a least one year prior to a LASIK consultation.

  • Pregnancy and Nursing: Hormones associated with pregnancy and nursing can temporarily or permanently change vision. For this reason, we ask patients who are pregnant or nursing to wait at least three months after giving birth or post-nursing before coming in for a LASIK consultation.

  • Cornea Composition: During your LASIK consultation, we perform a comprehensive corneal evaluation determining your cornea’s thickness and analyzing its shape i.e. topography and tomography. Cornea topography test illustrating cornea curvature for LASIK laser eye surgery.You may have never have had a chance to think about your corneas being normal or not at a regular eye doctor appointment, but your topography and tomography must be normal and your cornea must be thick enough to perform LASIK. Fortunately, patients with corneas which are too thin may qualify for another type of refractive surgery. All options will be discussed at your consultation with Wolfe Eye Clinic.

  • Health: It’s important that you have a healthy eye before considering LASIK. Your LASIK doctor will need to know about conditions such as dry eye disease, glaucoma or retina disease. Serious eye infections or injuries should be cleared up and healed before being evaluated. Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus or diabetes, HIV, a history of herpes infecting in the eye, or excessive corneal scarring may disqualify you from having LASIK. Be sure to let your surgeon know if you suffer from any eye or general health problems.

Learn what it takes to be a LASIK candidate from the experts at Wolfe Eye Clinic!

If you would like more information on LASIK candidacy, give us a call at (833) 532-8809 to speak with a LASIK coordinator. Your coordinator can help answer your questions and review with you what to expect at your consultation.

At the pre-surgery LASIK consultation at Wolfe Eye Clinic, patients are thoroughly evaluated at no cost by one of our experienced LASIK surgeons to determine whether a patient qualifies for LASIK laser eye surgery or another refractive surgery option. For those who do not qualify for LASIK, there may be other refractive surgery options such as PRK or an implantable contact lens (ICL). Wolfe Eye Clinic refractive surgery specialists may discuss new technologies and alternatives with you during your LASIK evaluation.

Treating Refractive Disorders with LASIK Eye Surgery

In an eye without a refractive disorder, light entering the eye is refracted (bent) first by the eye’s cornea and then by the eye’s natural lens so that it focuses precisely on the retina. The retina is the sensitive tissue on the back of the eye that converts light images into electrical impulses and sends them through the optic nerve to the brain. If the light rays are not focused precisely on the retina, the result is refractive error, or poor vision in the form of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Refractive disorder diagram comparing cornea curvature and light refraction in myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.

Wearing eyeglasses or contacts corrects the symptoms of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism allowing patients to continue their daily activities. Whereas LASIK permanently reshapes the cornea to correct the refractive error by enhancing the eye’s natural ability to refract light rays precisely onto the retina, benefiting those who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism. If you have any of the following refractive eye disorders, you may be a candidate for LASIK.

Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Nearsightedness occurs when the eye is too long or the cornea is shaped too steeply. Incoming light rays are refracted to a focal point in front of the retina instead of on the retina. This results in distant objects being out of focus while close objects may be seen clearly.

Farsightedness (Hyperopia)

Farsightedness is the reverse of nearsightedness. Instead of the eye being too long or having a cornea that is too steep, the farsighted eye is too short or has a cornea that is too flat. Light rays refracted through the cornea converge at a focal point behind the retina. Depending on the patient’s age, this may result in far and close objects being out of focus.


A cornea has no astigmatism if the curvature which defines it is the same all the way around like a basketball cut in half does. A cornea with astigmatism has two curvatures like a football cut in half. Each curve has to be corrected optically to achieve one point of focus. When LASIK was first introduced in the mid-1990’s lasers and their software programs could not correct astigmatism at all. With time, progressively greater amounts of astigmatism have become treatable so that large amounts of astigmatism can now be treated very effectively.  Thanks to ever improving modern technology, you can get LASIK with astigmatism if you are otherwise an excellent candidate with stable vision.


Presbyopia refers to the normal process of aging in which the natural lens inside the eye becomes hardened. As this occurs, the lens loses its flexibility, and you may find yourself squinting, which makes reading and other close-up activities difficult. This usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 50. Almost everyone experiences presbyopia. This normal aging process finds many patients with the need for bifocal glasses or contacts or reading glasses for those who have not previously needed corrective lenses. Unfortunately, LASIK surgery does not correct the need for reading glasses as a result of presbyopia.

How do I know if I qualify for LASIK eye surgery?

To know if you qualify for LASIK, schedule a free, no-obligation LASIK consultation with one of Wolfe Eye Clinic’s LASIK surgeons. The purpose of a LASIK evaluation is to determine if you qualify for LASIK or another type of refractive surgery. Ames LASIK specialist, Dr. Louis Scallon, performs cornea topography test during LASIK consultation at Wolfe Eye Clinic.In order to make that determination, our specialty LASIK teams perform advanced testing and gather measurements. Unlike other providers, Wolfe Eye Clinic LASIK surgeons take the time to personally review your test results with you, hear about your long-term vision goals and answer your questions so that you can make an informed decision. The consultation helps patients understand their options and what to reasonably expect from the procedure.

To find out if you are a candidate for LASIK, please call one of our LASIK Coordinators at (833) 532-8809 or request an appointment online here.

Frequently Asked Questions About LASIK Candidacy

At what age can you get LASIK?

Good LASIK candidates must be age eighteen or older and have stable vision. Adults across the lifespan have LASIK performed to improve quality of life.

How bad can your eyes be to get LASIK?

If you wear contacts or eyeglasses as a result of being nearsighted, farsighted or having astigmatism, you may benefit from LASIK laser eye surgery. Wolfe Eye Clinic technology treats a large range of refractive errors. Please call (833) 532-8809 to learn if your prescription falls within range for LASIK or another procedure.

Can you get LASIK with astigmatism?

Yes! LASIK can treat astigmatism in addition to correcting nearsightedness and farsightedness. LASIK cannot treat the natural aging of the eyes which typically results in reading glasses.

Can I have LASIK if I have cataracts?

If you currently have a cataract, chances are you are not a good candidate for LASIK. A cataract is the natural clouding of the eye’s lens. Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy lens with a clear plastic one which generally provides much clearer vision. However, as the need for cataract surgery approaches, you may want to consider a premium intraocular lens to replace your natural cataract lens to enhance your vision. During your cataract evaluation, your surgeon will discuss intraocular replacement lens options with you as well as potential post-cataract LASIK surgery. If you have already had cataract surgery, you may still qualify for LASIK if you have a significant residual refractive need.

Can LASIK help with glare and nighttime driving?

LASIK is not a recommended solution for headlight glare or nighttime vision problems. Unfortunately, LASIK will not help relieve symptoms associated with glare or difficulty driving at night. Those issues may be caused by a cataract, irregularities of the corneal surface or ocular surface disease.  If you are struggling with these issues, please schedule a dilated eye exam with either a Wolfe Eye Clinic physician or your trusted optometrist.

Can LASIK help with double vision or strabismus?

LASIK can help correct refractive errors including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. LASIK cannot treat double vision or strabismus as those conditions are not typically caused by refractive errors. However, Wolfe Eye Clinic has strabismus and pediatric subspecialists  that may be able to help. Please call (833) 532-8809 for more information.

Find Out if You Qualify for LASIK Eye Surgery at Wolfe Eye Clinic

To find out if you are a candidate for LASIK, please call one of our LASIK Coordinators at (833) 532-8809 or request an appointment online here to schedule a free LASIK consultation near you. Wolfe Eye Clinic has experienced LASIK surgeons across the state. We offer free LASIK consultations at our Ames, AnkenyCedar Falls, Cedar Rapids (Hiawatha), Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Pleasant Hill and Waterloo clinics.