Of all of the questions most commonly asked of the eye surgeons of Broberg Eye Care, “What is the ideal age to undergo LASIK?” ranks somewhere near the top. Among many patients of our eye care center in Austin, LASIK age is assumed to be a critical factor in determining candidacy for the procedure.
In truth, age by itself does not preclude a patient from being a good candidate for LASIK, as long as he or she has reached at least the age of 18. We have successfully performed LASIK on patients ranging from their early 20s to their 80s. Proper screening of candidates is far more important to positive outcomes than age.
This is not to say, however, that age plays no role in what patients can expect from LASIK. We discuss the specific effect of age on LASIK results to patients during their initial one-on-one consultations so that they can make informed decisions regarding their care and establish realistic expectations for their results.
Technically, patients are allowed to undergo LASIK as soon as they reach the age of 18. In reality, however, most people are not good candidates for the procedure until they reach their 20s. This is because a patient’s prescription must have remained constant for at least a year prior to LASIK. The vision of most 18-year-olds has not yet stabilized to that degree.
As most people enter their 40s, they develop a condition called presbyopia. This condition is marked by a decreased ability to see nearby objects clearly. At this point, people with poor distance vision will have to remove their glasses in order to see nearby objects clearly, while people with good distance vision will have to rely on reading glasses.
Up until presbyopia sets in, LASIK is highly effective at restoring vision at all distances. LASIK will not prevent the onset of presbyopia, however. Therefore, someone who achieves excellent vision at all distances in their 20s through LASIK may have to wear reading glasses once they reach their 40s.
It is important to note that presbyopia does not preclude suitable candidates from undergoing LASIK, although they need to realize that the procedure is not a cure for presbyopia. Many patients in their 30s and 40s elect to correct their distance vision through LASIK and use reading glasses as necessary. Others elect to have one eye corrected for distance vision and the other corrected for close vision, although some people find the results of such correction to present further challenges.
The most common eye condition facing older patients is cataracts, or the clouding over of the eye’s natural lens. The only effective treatment for cataracts is the surgical removal of the natural lenses and the subsequent replacement with artificial intraocular lenses, or IOLs.
In many cases, premium IOLs restore excellent vision at all distances, allowing patients to say goodbye to their glasses and contact lenses altogether. In other cases, LASIK may be performed to “fine tune” vision if patients continue to require glasses or contacts after the placement of IOLs.
To learn more about LASIK and age, please contact Broberg Eye Care today.