Why Corneal Thickness Matters with LASIK Surgery

By William Holcomb on September 11, 2016

An eye seen up closeWhen the people of Madison want to see clearly, they know that they can turn to Holcomb Laser Center for help. We offer state-of-the-art eye care using advanced laser technology and the latest diagnostic techniques.

A number of patients who visit the practice have questions about LASIK surgery. These questions often turn to issues of candidacy and whether or not certain people can undergo the laser eye surgery. With that in mind, let's see why the thickness of a person's corneas is so important when it comes to LASIK.

Understanding the Cornea

The cornea is the transparent layer that forms the frontal portion of the eye. The cornea accounts for roughly two-thirds of an eye's optical power since light first passes through the cornea before it meets the lens and the anterior chamber en route to the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye).

Refractive errors are associated with imperfections of the corneal contour. You may know refractive errors better by the following names:

  • Myopia (Nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism

How LASIK Is Performed

LASIK surgery is a laser vision correction procedure. During LASIK, a small flap is created in the topmost layer of the cornea, which is known as the epithelium. With the flap up, a laser is then used to alter the shape of the cornea. This improves the passage of light through the eye so that it focuses properly on the retina. The flap is then set back down to heal.

After LASIK, patients are able to see clearly without the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Can Patients with Thin Corneas Undergo LASIK?


Even though the epithelial flap is very small and thin, LASIK is not recommended for patients who have thin or irregularly shaped corneas. This is mainly to prevent complications in healing and overall vision results.

LASIK Alternatives for Patients with Thin Corneas

If you have thin corneas and are not considered a good candidate for LASIK, there are alternatives to consider that work much like LASIK.

  • PRK – During PRK, the epithelium is removed rather than turned into a flap. The epithelium will grow back on its own as part of the healing process.
  • LASEK – During LASEK, the corneal surface is carefully loosened and then pushed to the side in order to reshape the cornea.
  • Epi-LASIK – During Epi-LASIK, a special machine is used to lift the surface layer of the cornea.

Comparing Results: LASIK Alternatives vs. LASIK Surgery

PRK, LASEK, and Epi-LASIK can each offer comparable results to LASIK surgery. After undergoing any of the mentioned LASIK alternatives, patients will be able to see without the need for glasses or contacts.

The recovery process for these LASIk alternatives tend to take an extra few days. In some cases, the discomfort and irritation after surgery may be more pronounced, though thankfully this can be alleviated with proper post-operative care.

Discussing All of Your Vision Care Options

During the consultation process, we will be more than happy to go over all of your options for vision correction. This includes LASIK, LASIK alternatives, and even the use of traditional corrective lenses. We will go over the pros and cons of each and offer an honest assessment about the best treatment given your needs. Our team is here for you.

Contact Our Eye Care and Vision Correction Center

For more information about LASIK and how it can help you see clearly again without the need for glasses or contacts, be sure to contact our advanced eye care practice today. The team at Holcomb Laser Center is here to help you with your vision issues.

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