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Can I Get LASIK If I Have Thin Corneas?


LASIK surgery corrects vision by reshaping the clear front surface of the eye (cornea) with an ultra-precise laser. During this reshaping process, some corneal tissue is removed.

Millions of LASIK procedures have been performed worldwide, and many studies have been conducted to evaluate safe levels of corneal tissue removal during the procedure.

During your LASIK preoperative exam and consultation, detailed measurements of your cornea will be performed to insure you have normal corneas and adequate corneal thickness to safely proceed with surgery.

If you have unusually thin or irregularly shaped corneas or a very strong eyeglass prescription that would require removal of significant corneal thickness to fully correct your vision, your LASIK surgeon may determine that you are not a good candidate for LASIK.

Also, excessive eye rubbing might be a risk factor for corneal thinning and therefore a contraindication for LASIK surgery. Eye rubbing has been associated with keratoconus and may actually cause severe corneal thinning that could require a cornea transplant.

Chronic itchy eyes also may be a symptom of dry eyes or eye allergies. If you rub your eyes frequently or you've been told you have thin corneas, be sure to discuss this with your eye doctor — especially if you are considering LASIK.

In some cases, if you're not a good candidate for LASIK because your corneas are too thin, you still may be well-suited for other vision-correcting procedures, such as PRK, phakic IOL implantation or refractive lens exchange.

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Dr. Vance ThompsonAbout the Author: Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, a leading researcher in technologies for laser and implant vision correction and a member of All About Vision's editorial advisory board.

Page updated March 2018