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Is There an Age Requirement for LASIK Eye Surgery?

Posted on September 21, 2020
Close up of Green Eye Iris.

Vision problems can happen at any age. While glasses are a great way to address it by allowing us to see and read, millions of people opt for LASIK surgery. More than 700,000 operations are completed each year, and nearly 10 million Americans have had the procedure done from the time it was approved in 1999.

LASIK also has an extremely low complication rate (under 1%). With its popularity and success, you may wonder if there is an age requirement for LASIK. Not sure if you meet this guideline? Keep reading to find out what the age restrictions are. 

Minimum Age Requirement for LASIK

Overall, LASIK surgery is a safe procedure that a professional may offer to a patient at any age if the situation calls. However, the minimum age requirement you must be in order to qualify for LASIK is 18 according to the FDA. 

The reason behind the age requirement is stability.  It is important to wait until your eyes are completely done maturing, changing, and growing to limit your chances of needing an enhancement. Depending on the equipment used during your operation, you will find doctors that follow the minimum 18 rule (most do), and others who follow the minimum 21 rule based upon FDA approvals of the equipment.

In order to qualify, your glasses or contact lens prescription must be stable for a minimum of 12 months. If you know your eyes are changing, the best advice would be to wait.

LASIK for People 18-24

Those who are over the age of 18 (or 21) may still receive advice from their doctor to wait to have LASIK surgery a few more years until they can show stability in their prescription. For some, body changes continue to occur beyond 21. For most patients, the body stops growing and the prescription stops changing by the age of 24, so waiting until 24 is a safe way to evaluate the body at full maturity. 

A quality surgeon will only recommend an elective procedure like LASIK if it is safe for them to get it done. Some doctors may refuse operation to this age group while allowing special consideration for professional athletes and people in the law enforcement or military. 

LASIK for People 25-40

Individuals between the ages of 25 and 40 are viewed as the best age to get LASIK. This is because people in the age group have contact or eyeglass prescriptions that are likely stable. As you’ve learned, this is one of the  positive markers doctors look for in a candidate.  

Those over 25 are likely to have a stable prescription. Overall this age group also has the best eye health and is least likely to suffer from cloudiness in the lens inside the eye, dry eyes, glaucoma, cataracts, or other conditions that can disqualify them from the surgery later in life. 

LASIK for People 41-55

After age 40, people the incidence of presbyopia rises. It is around this age that you begin to struggle to see things close without some help. Adults who may have had perfect vision all their lives often find they need reading glasses all of a sudden. 

The older you get, the more rigid and less flexible the lens inside of your eye becomes. This causes small muscles to weaken as well and they struggle to contract to allow you to see clear images up close. Adults in this age group often want LASIK to treat this problem, which is possible to some degree. 

LASIK does not correct presbyopia directly, and fixing it usually involves a different type of LASIK procedure known as monovision. Most adults who have presbyopia also suffer from other refractive errors like astigmatism, nearsightedness (myopia), and farsightedness (hyperopia) simultaneously. 

Monovision allows surgeons to correct separate problems. Essentially, one eye (the dominate eye) is corrected for distance vision and the other for near vision.  Most people who come in for a LASIK consultation in this age group because they want to correct these eye-related changes. People in this age group are generally great candidates if they have tried monovision in the past in contact lenses and been successful. 

LASIK for People 56 and Older

Just like there is no such thing as “too young” for LASIK, there is no such thing as a person who is too old for LASIK. People who are 56 years old and up can still get LASIK so long as they are in good health and meet the consideration requirements.

This age group is most likely to suffer from early signs of cataracts. If a senior is diagnosed with the condition, LASIK often is not their best option.  Refractive lens exchange quite often becomes a more appealing option for these patients since the lens of the eye will likely need to be addressed soon anyway.  If a senior has cataracts, this does not exclude them from achieving freedom from glasses and contacts.

For patients with visually significant cataracts, the priority is to remove cataracts first through surgical treatment. Doctors should inform seniors about the difference because many falsely believe LASIK corrects cataracts when that can only be done with cataract surgery. 

Adults in this group are also more likely to suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma is a different type of vision issue that occurs because of excessive fluid build-up in the eye that presses on the optic nerve. This pressure inside the eye is temporarily elevated  during LASIK, but the operation can still be safe in mild cases. 

Lastly, If you have a problem with dry eyes your doctor may not recommend LASIK until the dry eyes are addressed.  Dry eyes are a common temporary side effect of the surgery, so addressing dryness before surgery is crucial. 

Correcting Vision Issues 

If you are worried about what the age requirement for LASIK is because you feel it may disqualify you, you should not have to worry. In general, it’s an operation that most adults qualify for as long as they are at least 18 years old with a stable prescription and healthy eyes.

Contact us for additional help and questions if you are curious about LASIK surgery. We offer free consultations and interest-free financing for those that qualify.

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