January 30, 2022
People of all ages experience impaired eyesight, and LASIK eye surgery has grown more and more popular among adults with refractive errors, such as near-sightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. In eyes with normal vision, the cornea refracts light precisely onto the retina at the back of the eye. But with patients with refractive errors, the light is bent incorrectly, resulting in blurred vision.
LASIK eye surgery utilizes a special type of cutting laser to precisely change the shape of the clear dome-shaped tissue in the cornea to help improve vision. While this procedure has proven to be beneficial for correcting refractive errors among adults, not all can have this procedure done.
While we all wish to ditch our glasses and contact lenses for unimpeded sight, not everyone is an ideal candidate for LASIK. There are some factors that influence your candidacy to qualify for LASIK surgery, and the most important being your overall eye health. This procedure is perfect for those with healthy eyes who just need that extra help.
Qualifying factors for LASIK surgery include:
So how young is too young, and how old is too old for LASIK?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), LASIK is only approved for people aged 18 and older. There is currently no laser eye surgery that is approved for anyone younger. Most doctors don’t perform LASIK surgery on children and teens as they rarely have stable vision, and most children don’t require the surgery to function. Eyesight goes through a lot of changes well into early adulthood, and as one of the qualifications for LASIK is stable vision prescription, LASIK tends to be ineffective during this stage.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a LASIK surgery patient should be older than 21 since that’s when they’re most likely to be done with major eye changes. While there are some general guidelines to help identify the ideal age to get laser eye surgery, most ophthalmologists recommend getting the LASIK procedure done during 25-40 years of age.
Older people above the age of 45 tend to go through vision changes due to the natural aging process and are more susceptible to eye diseases like cataracts and refractive vision errors like presbyopia. While there is no upper age limit for laser eye surgery, the results of these surgeries are less predictable the older the patient gets. The most common age for laser vision correction is usually between 20 and 40 years of age.
While there remains no upper age limit for treatment, there are many factors to be considered when planning laser vision correction for older patients.
As our sight starts to deteriorate as we get older, many patients are at risk of developing presbyopia. Presbyopia or age-related farsightedness is an eye condition that causes difficulty in seeing things close. It is caused when a person loses flexibility in the lens of the eye. While presbyopia does not exclude a person from LASIK, they would require a Monovision LASIK procedure to address this condition. These patients will also require prescription reading glasses or contact lenses to compensate for their near vision loss.
Monovision LASIK for presbyopia involves your surgeon correcting each eye to a different prescription. During surgery, your dominant eye is treated to correct distant vision, and your other eye is treated to correct close-up vision. The goal of monovision LASIK is to improve sight just enough to create less dependency on prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Seniors are also at risk of developing cataracts. By the age of 60, most seniors will experience some level of cloudiness, or opaqueness, in their lenses. When the lens of the eye gets clouded with age, it is generally due to a cataract. About half of the population between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from cataracts, and that number jumps to 70% as you reach the age of 75. LASIK does not correct or prevent cataracts. While this eye disease does not exclude a person from future LASIK opportunities, cataract surgery takes priority.
Other factors that would be required to take into consideration are:
Older adults who aren’t viable candidates for LASIK have another option to consider, Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE). This procedure involves the replacement of the eye’s natural lens with an implant. Implantable lenses can minimize or eliminate the need for corrective eyewear to clearly see up-close objects. RLE is an alternative to LASIK for people with extreme farsightedness and mild to moderate near-sightedness. RLE is also an effective treatment option for aging eyes. After the age of 40, the eye’s natural lens begins to grow rigid, making it difficult to focus on all distances. Hence, replacing the natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL) may dramatically improve the patient’s ability to focus on objects near and far.
While age can certainly influence your candidacy, it is by no means an absolute boundary. If you are in good health, have a stable eye prescription, over the age of 21, and are looking to get rid of your glasses or contact lenses, consult an eye surgeon to see if LASIK is right for you.
Here at OOMC, our patient’s well-being is our priority. Our dedicated team of surgeons and staff always makes an effort to create a safe and secure environment where you can easily access care comfortably and confidently.
Contact one of our centers nearest to you for further information.
Corneal Associates of New Jersey
Kremer Eye Center
Ludwick Eye Center
Contact our office to schedule a telemedicine appointment to conveniently get the care you deserve from the comfort of your home, or schedule an appointment at one of our offices throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware.