Is LASIK just for the young? Not necessarily. Each prospective patient has a unique set of circumstances that must be evaluated before determining whether laser vision correction is a viable option.
Laser vision correction is capable of treating nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism at any age. However, you must have a comprehensive preoperative evaluation to determine if you are a candidate. This includes a complete eye exam and several advanced diagnostic tests. The doctor evaluates your eye health, as well as corneal regularity and thickness. This article covers some eye health issues and diseases that may affect your candidacy for LASIK.
Eye Diseases & LASIK Candidacy
As you age, vision loss from eye disease becomes more likely. Common diseases that may decrease your vision include cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. If your vision is significantly reduced because of eye disease — to the point where you can’t even see well with glasses — LASIK is not an option.
Cataracts & LASIK Candidacy
Cataracts eventually cause blurred, cloudy vision. However in early stages, cataract progression may be revealed by frequent eyewear prescription changes to maintain good vision. You must have a stable prescription for at least one year in order to qualify for LASIK. Therefore, an early cataract may disqualify you for LASIK, but it may not be severe enough to require removal.
Cataract surgery removes the cloudy natural lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens implant. Despite sophisticated calculations, most patients still have a small amount of refractive error after surgery. This error is usually so small that most patients function well without prescription eyewear. However, patients who desire more precise vision correction should consider laser eye surgery after their cataract surgery. Both LASIK and PRK are excellent laser vision techniques that further improve your vision. Your surgeon will recommend the best technique for you.
Presbyopia & LASIK Candidacy
If you’re over 40, you likely experience presbyopia, or difficulty focusing on nearby objects, and you treat the condition with reading glasses. However, monovision LASIK may offer a more permanent solution. During the monovision procedure, your dominant eye is corrected to be used as your distance-vision eye, and your non-dominant eye is then corrected for near-vision.
For those who were nearsighted before the procedure, the non-dominant eye is left slightly under-corrected. If you were not nearsighted prior to the procedure, your non-dominant eye will be corrected to be slightly nearsighted. This non-dominant eye allows for better reading and other close-up work, but it will see less well in the distance. At first, you may not feel comfortable with one eye for distance vision and the other for near vision. However, as each day goes by, your brain will adapt to processing the images.
One month after monovision treatment, close to 90 percent of patients are comfortable with their vision. They are able to function at distance and near without glasses. Many doctors offer a preoperative monovision trial with contact lenses to make sure that the adaptation will be successful.
Age does not automatically disqualify you from receiving LASIK, but many factors affect your candidacy for the procedure. Only an evaluation by a qualified LASIK professional will tell you whether laser vision correction is right for you and which technique is recommended for your treatment.