Refractive Surgery for Children and Adults with Special Needs

Pediatric refractive surgery patient Many special needs patients deal with communication, emotional, learning, and sensory challenges associated with their medical condition that make wearing glasses and contact lenses extremely difficult, even impossible. While refractive surgery such as PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser In Situ Keratomileusis) is usually reserved for adults, Wills Eye Hospital now has a refractive surgery program for children.

Pediatric patients who are three years of age and older and have serious medical conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, craniofacial deformities, orthopedic deformities, and other neurobehavioral abnormalities may be eligible for refractive surgery performed under anesthesia.

This type of corrective refractive surgery is considered a viable alternative for special needs patients who also have:

  • Significant refractive error;
  • Risk of amblyopia; or
  • An underlying history of strabismus for whom standard treatments aren’t applicable or have failed.

Performing refractive surgery on patients with unique needs requires a large, coordinated and time-consuming effort. Wills Eye is one of the few places in the world providing LASIK/PRK surgery for these patients under anesthesia. Extensive care is required before, during and after the procedure. The medical staff is highly trained to sensitively respond to special needs patients. Refractive surgery is often their last chance to lead sighted lives.

Examinations, evaluations and procedures are adapted to the individual needs that each patient presents. Patients can expect all clinic visits to be 3-4 hours. For all appointments and surgery families are kept together for as much time as possible.

For a Consultation:

Phone: 215-928-3240



  • Any history of herpetic corneal infection
  • Diagnoses of keratoconus
  • Corneal thickness <500 microns
  • Abnormal topography
  • Any non-refractive cause of decreased vision
  • Any past ocular surgery


  • 3 years of age and up
  • Hyperopia up to +5.00
  • Myopia up to -11.00
  • Astigmatism up to 3.00
  • Failed treatment for refractive amblyopia

About Barry Wasserman

Barry Wasserman, MD_Pediatric Refractive SurgeryAs a Board Certified Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Dr. Barry Wasserman, not only has more than 20 years of experience with children’s eye care but also has performed over 17,000 adult laser refractive procedures.

Dr. Wasserman is passionate about LASIK and PRK surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism for children who cannot wear glasses or contact lenses.