Is LASIK Safe and Effective for Patients of All Ages?

By Gordon Wong, OD on October 15, 2014

A woman wearing glasses while working on the computerFor those patients who wish to reduce or eliminate their dependency on visual aids such as glasses and contact lenses, LASIK is the often the best treatment option. LASIK eye surgery permanently improves a patient’s vision by correcting the corneal aberrations that cause blurry vision. However, LASIK should only be performed on patients who are the appropriate age. In addition, certain patients should be aware of the limitations of LASIK before choosing to undergo treatment. At the San Diego practice GW Eye Associates Inc, our LASIK surgeons explain at what age LASIK can be performed.

Can LASIK Be Performed on Children and Teens?

Generally, LASIK should not be performed on children or teens. This may be disappointing to young patients who wish to experience clear vision without the need for cumbersome eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, it is in these patients’ best interest to hold off on undergoing surgery until they are in their 20s. The reason for this is that the patient’s vision prescription tends to change frequently when they are in their childhood and teenage years. It is much easier for these patients to replace the lenses in their glasses or order new contact lenses when vision prescriptions change.

If a patient’s vision prescription changes after undergoing LASIK surgery, an additional enhancement surgery would be required to address the new vision aberrations and reshape the cornea. In order to avoid the need for additional surgery or surgeries, LASIK surgeons recommend that patients wait until they are in their 20s and the vision prescription remains stable for at least two years.

Patients in Their 20s and 30s

Patients in their 20s and 30s are often ideal candidates for LASIK surgery, particularly in regards to age. However, patients in this age group should be free of the general medical and eye conditions that could preclude them from being suitable candidates for surgery.

LASIK in Patients Over the Age of 40

Patients over the age of 40 can undergo LASIK surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. However, these patients should also be educated on the limitations of LASIK surgery, and the increased risk of new eye conditions developing as they age. Patients in their 40s are likely to begin experiencing the symptoms of presbyopia, an age-related condition that results in poor near vision. Presbyopia can’t be treated with LASIK, as this condition is related to a weakening of the ciliary muscle of the eye. The weakening of this muscle makes it difficult for patients to focus on near objects. As a result, patients who undergo LASIK - whether they are in their 20s, 30s, or 40s - will eventually develop presbyopia and require glasses or an alternative treatment, such as the placement of multifocal IOLs, to see near objects clearly.

There is a range of other eye conditions that are common in older patients. Cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are just a few of the age-related conditions that can affect vision. LASIK surgery will have no effect on these conditions. Instead patients will need to undergo other types of treatment to control and treat these conditions.

To schedule a LASIK consultation, contact GW Eye Associates Inc.

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