LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a popular vision correction surgery that reshapes the cornea to correct refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for LASIK due to certain medical or ocular conditions. Fortunately, there are several alternative vision correction solutions available. This article goes over some of these alternatives including eyeglasses, contact lenses, PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange), SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction), and cataract surgery, which can also be beneficial for individuals seeking to improve their vision.


Eyeglasses are the most conventional and non-invasive solution for vision correction. While typically glasses or contact lenses are what people are trying to escape from with vision correction surgery, they work by compensating for the refractive errors in the eye with lenses that bring images into focus. There is a vast array of lens types and coatings available to cater to individual needs and lifestyle, including bifocal and progressive lenses for presbyopia, anti-reflective coatings, and photochromic lenses that darken in sunlight.

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are thin, curved discs placed on the outside surface of the cornea to correct vision. They function similarly to eyeglasses but offer a more natural visual experience and aesthetic appeal (some even in different colors). There are various types of contact lenses, including soft, rigid gas permeable, and hybrid lenses, each with its advantages and tailored to different vision problems and wearer preferences.

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

PRK is a type of refractive surgery that predates LASIK. It corrects vision by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. Unlike LASIK, which creates a corneal flap to access the stromal layer, PRK removes the outermost layer of the cornea (epithelium) before the laser treatment, making it a suitable option for individuals with thinner corneas or other corneal abnormalities.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

RLE is a surgical procedure that replaces the eye’s natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct refractive errors. It’s primarily used for presbyopia and high hyperopia, and can be an alternative for individuals not eligible for LASIK or PRK. Besides correcting vision, RLE also prevents the development of cataracts as the natural lens, which is susceptible to cataract formation, is replaced.


SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a newer, less invasive option for correcting vision compared to LASIK and PRK. In SMILE, a laser is used to create a small piece of tissue within the cornea, which is then removed through a small cut, helping to reshape the cornea and fix vision issues. Unlike LASIK, there’s no need to create a flap in the cornea, which can be better for people with thinner corneas. The recovery time is similar to LASIK, and SMILE is known for its precision, making it an attractive choice for vision correction.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a procedure that removes the clouded natural lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial IOL. While its primary aim is to treat cataracts, it can also correct refractive errors, particularly when modern multifocal or accommodating IOLs are used. This procedure can significantly improve vision quality and reduce dependency on corrective eyewear.

What are your options if you are not a LASIK candidate?

There are a variety of viable vision correction alternatives for those who are not suitable candidates for LASIK.

Learn more schedule a free consultation with Houston’s premiere ophthalmologist at Mattioli Vision Professionals and take the time to understand all of the benefits, risks, and the most suitable option based on your individual ocular health and lifestyle requirements.