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What Can Laser Eye Surgery Correct and What Doesn’t it Help?

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Laser eye surgery can be a life-altering procedure for many people. It can leave you with the vision you’ve always longed for, just hours after undergoing the treatment.

But not everybody is eligible to undergo the surgery as it’s only suitable to treat certain issues.If you’re wondering whether your condition can be treated with LASIK, LASEK (aka PRK) or ReLEx SMILE eye surgery, this post will outline everything you need to know.

We’ll cover:

  • What Can’t Laser Eye Surgery Correct?
  • The Conditions That Can be Corrected with Laser Eye Surgery

What Can’t Laser Eye Surgery Correct?

Most people are suitable to undergo laser eye surgery. That’s the good news. However, there are various conditions that carry too much risk for the surgeons to operate on. Plus, laser eye surgery wouldn’t be the answer and wouldn’t correct it properly.

Unfortunately, laser eye surgery can’t correct everything. Here are some of the conditions that can’t be treated this way:

  • ​Extremely high refractive errors. People with extreme levels of myopia (short-sight) or hyperopia (long-sight) won’t be able to have their eyes corrected through laser eye surgery. Instead, they’ll need implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery which places an implant lens in front of the natural one. ICL surgery can produce excellent outcomes for severs prescriptions.
  • Eye disorders and diseases. If you have a family history of medical conditions such as keratoconus, you may be more prone to laser eye surgery complications.
  • Young eyes. Until you’re 21 you’ll, unfortunately, have to be patient (sorry). This is because your eye prescription is likely to still be changing, so you’ll have to sit tight until it’s been steady for 12 months and then the consultant should be able to advise you accordingly. The minimum age for laser eye surgery is 18 years old, and in rate situation, a patient may have a stable prescription. It’s best to check with your preferred clinic to see if you are suitable.

Want To Find Out If You’re Suitable?

If you’re wondering whether laser eye treatment is the right choice for you, there are some key things to consider…

What Conditions Can Be Corrected with Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery has been performed for over 25 years. In this time, it’s helped give clear vision to millions of patients and give the kind of easy life they’ve always wanted.

There are three main types of laser eye surgery:

  1. LASIK
  2. LASEK
  3. SMILE

LASIK is a quicker, more straightforward procedure that allows for a rapid recovery time. LASEK is also straightforward as a procedure but has a considerably longer recovery and post-op discomfort. And you normally only get referred for LASEK (also known as PRK) if you aren’t eligible for LASIK.

A third more recent development is ReLEx SMILE, or just SMILE, where a femtosecond laser is used to remove a disc of tissue (lenticule) to correct vision, rather than using an excimer laser, as in LASEK and LASIK.

In terms of the number of procedures performed and range of experience worldwide, LASIK has the greatest, followed by LASEK/PRK, and SMILE the least. In addition, as of late 2018, SMILE cannot be used to treat long-sightedness (hyperopia).

To find out more in-depth about the main differences between the three, click here:

At Focus we do not currently offer SMILE, as our femtosecond LASIK results exceed those published for SMILE.

However, the next generation technology for this approach, “SMILE v2.0” if you will, is coming in 2019 with three new laser manufacturers planning to release their systems (Ziemer, WaveLight and Schwind).

The newer technology approaches of SMILE in 2019 will include features not found on the Zeiss Visumax laser, such as automated centration on the eye, ability to adjust the centration of treatment on the eye after docking, rotation of astigmatic treatments and wider treatment zones.

You can contact us to learn more about the coming SMILE systems being released in 2019.

The main conditions that laser eye surgery is used to treat are:

  1. Nearsightedness (also known as short-sightedness or myopia)
  2. Farsightedness (also known as long-sightedness or hyperopia)
  3. Astigmatism
  4. Presbyopia (reading glasses)

The surgery reduces your dependence on the need for prescription glasses or contact lenses.

It’s not just medical issues that will be corrected with laser eye surgery, there are various practical issues that can be simplified once you’ve had your treatment.

Things such as saving money on constantly updating your prescription and buying new frames. Plus, the chore of having to carry more than one pair around with you. To just no longer having to scramble around for your glasses in the middle of the night.


If you can see close objects clear as day, but the ones in the distance all morph into one and are blurry, it’s likely that you suffer from nearsightedness, also called short-sightedness.

It occurs when the shape of your eye causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of your retina instead of on it.

“LASIK eye surgery can leave you with clear vision in just four hours after having the surgery.”

Your nearsightedness will be corrected and you’ll more than likely have clear 20/20 vision, so you can say goodbye to having to wear your driving glasses.


Farsightedness (hyperopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby may be blurry. With more advanced long-sightedness, even distant objects are blurred.

Your focusing ability will differ depending on the degree of your farsightedness, as well as your age. If you have pretty severe farsightedness, both far and near vision will be blurry, but close objects will always be more blurred than those further away.

Like nearsightedness, farsightedness can be treated simply by undergoing LASIK treatment.

“SMILE surgery cannot currently treat long-sight.”

When treating either short- or long-sight, be aware of the possibility of over/under correcting your prescription during the surgery. This could leave you with a need for glasses, although weaker than before. The chance of this occurring is less than 1 percent, and is correctable with an enhancement procedure.


Astigmatism is a common problem and is easily treatable with LASIK and LASEK eye surgery. It affects your vision at all distances and makes things appear blurry.

Astigmatism occurs when either the front surface of your eye (cornea) or the lens, inside your eye, has different curvatures, e.g. the curvature in the up/down and left/right directions are not the same.

Instead of having a curve like a round snooker ball, the surface is egg-shaped like a rugby ball. This causes blurred vision at all distances.

LASIK and LASEK treatment simply reshape your cornea from egg-shaped back to the regular rounded shape, this will reduce your dependency on glasses and contact lenses.


Presbyopia is the condition by which your eyes gradually lose the ability to focus well on nearby objects. This is, unfortunately, a natural part of ageing and is likely to come to most people during their lifetime.

“Normally, you may start to notice symptoms of presbyopia in your mid-40s.”

A common sign that you’re developing symptoms of presbyopia is when you have to hold books, newspapers and your mobile phone at arm’s length so that you can read it clearly.

My father-in-law used to say, “It’s not that my eyes are getting older, it’s just my arms are getting longer!” At least, until he admitted he needed the problem looking at.

Practical Issues

As we mentioned earlier, laser eye surgery doesn’t only correct optical conditions. It also helps with practical issues such as:

  • No more costly lens prescriptions.
  • No splashing out on your favourite frames or having to compromise on style due to the cost.
  • No fiddling around with contact lenses.
  • No constantly having to keep the grandkids or your toddler from pinching your glasses.
  • No scrambling around for your glasses when nature calls in the middle of the night.
  • No need to remember to pack your spare glasses when going on a trip away.
  • In fact, not having to wear glasses at all. What a relief!

How Can Focus Clinic Help?

Laser eye surgery is often highly successful but requires an experienced and skilled surgeon to carry the procedures out correctly. Which is why you want the best, and with Focus Clinic, that’s what you undoubtedly get.

At Focus Clinic, we’re the only clinic in the country with a 100 percent success rate. This is why we’re the UK’s most trusted laser eye surgery clinic.

Download our free information pack below. It’s filled with everything you need to know about how procedures work, the benefits and (lack of) potential side effects and much more.

Or, if you have any simple queries, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be sure to advise you accordingly.

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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