A patient’s age can affect the type of LASIK he receives and the outcome of that treatment. While each person is unique, I’ve used the following guidelines over the course of performing more than 75,000 laser vision correction procedures.
Since LASIK is an elective procedure, there is no rush to treat anyone. During the teen years and early 20s, a patient’s eyes may change dramatically. To be considered a candidate for LASIK, a patient must be at least 18 years old and have a stable eyewear prescription.
Age and prescription stability are only two of the factors doctors consider when assessing LASIK candidacy. They also look at the patient’s goals for the procedure, eye health, overall physical health, occupational needs, corneal shape and thickness, myopia versus hyperopia and other factors. All these help the doctor determine the safety and efficacy of the proposed procedure.
As patients near their 40s, presbyopia becomes a factor in their vision correction needs. Presbyopia refers to age-related changes to the lenses inside the eyes, which makes it more difficult to focus on nearby objects. Monovision LASIK is one possible option for patients with this condition. During the procedure, the doctor corrects one eye for distance vision and the other eye for up-close vision.
Admittedly, monovision does sound strange. And although it does take time for patients to adapt, most of them are happy with the results. If a patient is considering monovision LASIK, the doctor may do a “trial” with glasses or contact lenses to test if this new way of seeing works prior to treatment.
Patients in their 60s and beyond often begin to develop cataracts. If their cataracts are slow growing, and the patient’s refractive error is relatively mild, laser vision correction may be great for them. Their doctor would determine whether the LASIK would be performed before or after cataract surgery.
I do not consider there to be an upper age limit for laser vision correction. I have treated patients in their 70s and 80s with the goal of reducing their dependency on glasses or contacts. One of my happiest patients is a man in his 80s who no longer needs glasses after wearing them for 68 years.
While important, a person’s age is only one factor affecting her vision correction needs. Only a thorough eye exam and consultation with a qualified eye doctor can fully determine if LASIK is the best choice.
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