Is There an Ideal Age to Get LASIK Eye Surgery?

December 3rd, 2019
ideal age for LASIK

The FDA requires that patients be at least 18 years old in order to undergo LASIK surgery — but there are a few reasons why you might want to wait.

LASIK is one of the safest and most commonly performed corrective eye surgeries. Since the FDA approved the procedure in the 1990s, millions of people around the world have benefited from clearer, sharper vision. Some studies show that more than 95 percent of patients are satisfied with their improved vision following LASIK. For most people, it is an effective alternative to glasses and contacts, which can be costly to maintain and update annually.

The average age of patients who receive LASIK surgery used to be around 40, but has started to go down in recent years. But can you be too young or too old for the procedure? Here’s what you should know about the right time to have LASIK.

How Old Should You Be to Get LASIK?

Per FDA guidelines, you must be at least 18 to receive LASIK surgery, though many eye care providers will often recommend that you wait until later to do so. The reasoning behind this is that our eyesight changes as we grow, and the age requirements are in place to increase the chances that your eyesight won’t worsen after surgery.

While LASIK can also be used to treat farsightedness and astigmatism, the majority of people who have the surgery are myopic, or nearsighted. Myopia often worsens from childhood into adulthood, so it’s advised that you wait under your mid-twenties to undergo the procedure. You should have annual eye exams in the two years preceding the surgery to ensure your prescription remains stable — which means less than a +/-0.50 diopter change — for at least one year before surgery.

Sometimes, nearsightedness may continue to worsen after LASIK surgery. In this case, a follow-up enhancement procedure can help to make your vision clear and sharp once again. 

What’s the Best Age to Have LASIK Surgery?

The right age to have LASIK varies from person to person, and is dependent on a number of factors, including overall health, corneal anatomy, and expectations.

Around the age of 40, many people begin to develop presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness. While LASIK can be used to treat nearsightedness, presbyopia may still require the use of reading glasses. Another option that many patients over 40 choose is called monovision, which means that one eye is adjusted for focusing on nearby objects and the other for distant ones. A surgeon can simulate this during a LASIK evaluation.

Around the age of 60, the risk of developing other age-related eye vision conditions — such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration — begins to increase, which can make determining the effectiveness of LASIK more complicated. And while many ophthalmologists consider 70 to be the upper limit for LASIK, some patients in their 80s can still have the procedure if their eye health is good and their prescription has remained stable.

If you have questions about LASIK and whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure, don’t hesitate to contact Swagel Wootten Eye Institute to schedule an appointment. Our team of expertly-trained specialists and eye care providers will be happy to address your questions and concerns, and to discuss what other corrective vision treatments are available.

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