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How old do you have to be to get LASIK eye surgery in California?

Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (or LASIK) was approved by the food and drug administration in 1999 and is the most commonly performed refractive surgery in the United States today. As a matter of fact, LASIK has one of the highest rates of success of any procedure in ophthalmology. It is capable of safely and effectively treating refractive errors such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism. The FDA approval for the LASIK procedure is for patients who are 18 years of age or older. At Lucent Vision we follow the FDA guidelines and require any prospective LASIK candidates to be at least 18 years of age.

Is there a minimum age requirement for LASIK?

The minimum age requirement for LASIK at Lucent Vision is 18. Below this age, we would defer to our colleagues in optometry to provide you with an accurate prescription for glasses and contact lenses until you are ready to be evaluated for laser vison correction.

Although age plays a role in your candidacy for LASIK, there are other factors that your surgeon will also assess before recommending LASIK or any other form of vision correction surgery. These factors include:

  1. A stable eyeglass prescription over the last 1 to 2 years prior to your consultation.
  2. Corneal health as assessed by the shape and thickness of your cornea is an important factor.
  3. The presence of eye disease such as dry eye syndrome, cataract, glaucoma, or problems with your retina may play a role in your candidacy.
  4. If you wear contacts rather than glasses, you may be asked to suspend contact lens usage for a couple of weeks to allow for a more accurate eye examination to determine candidacy.
  5. Pregnancy may alter the properties of the corneal tissue; consequently, your eye doctor may ask you to return for a re-evaluation after you have completed your delivery.
  6. If you have underlying medical problems such as diabetes or autoimmune disease, you may still be a candidate. A careful evaluation of your medical history and a comprehensive eye examination would determine if laser vision correction would be a safe treatment for you.

During your consultation we will use cutting edge technology that will allow us to assess your refraction (i.e. your glasses prescription) and the health of your eye from your cornea all the way back to your retina.

What is the ideal age to have LASIK?

Patients between the ages of 18 and 55 may potentially be great candidates for a LASIK procedure. In our experience, patients between the ages of 18 and 35 may benefit the most as they tend to more easily meet the criteria necessary to optimize visual perception. Patients in this age group have typically grown out of the developmental changes of the human eye that may still be occurring during adolescence. In addition, patients in the age group from 18 to 35 are more likely to have a stable prescription for their corrective lens.

Once patients reach the age of 40 they will generally start to see some of the signs of presbyopia, which is the age-related stiffening of the natural lens that causes more visual impairment for near activities (such as reading). Having a laser vision correction procedure once you have already developed presbyopia may necessitate a blended vision arrangement in order to minimize dependence on glasses or contact lenses. For patients beyond the age of 40 a blended vision (or monovision arrangement) involves a far distance correction in the dominant eye, and a small amount of nearsightedness in the non-dominant eye. Your eye MD can discuss the benefits and drawbacks that this type of treatment can provide for your everyday life.

Am I too old for LASIK?

If you are over the age of 50, there may be better options than LASIK to correct your vision. Laser eye surgery in this age group tends to have a higher risk of dry eyes since we all make less natural tears after 50 (especially women). In addition, ageing causes a stiffening of the natural lens which typically results in presbyopia, or a progressive worsening of near vision starting in the 40s. For these patients, refractive lens exchange and cataract surgery are generally more effective means of re-establishing clear vision at all ranges of vision. Both of these procedures involve the replacement of dysfunctional natural lenses with artificial intraocular lenses that may can allow for great visual acuity and may reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses.

If you are over the age of 18 and motivated to see the world clearly without glasses or contact lenses, visit us at Lucent Vision for a free consultation. We specialize in customized vision correction treatments for patients of all ages. Make your appointment now and see if you are a candidate!

More FAQ’s About How Old Do You Have To Be To Get LASIK Eye Surgery In California

How does the stability of vision affect LASIK eligibility?

A stable eyeglass prescription is necessary to be considered a good candidate for LASIK. In this case, a stable prescription is considered a change of no more than 0.5 dioptres in your eyeglass prescription over the last 12 months. Without meeting this criteria, your LASIK surgeon would be chasing a moving target. The result could be an inaccurate treatment.

What are the potential risks or complications of having LASIK surgery too young?

Patients below the age of 18 may have eyes that are still developing. Some of this development may be related to hormonal changes that have not quite settled yet. If a LASIK treatment is done on an eye that is still developing, there may the the risk of an undercorrection that would necessitate a repeat treatment. In addition, if the eye has not completed its full development, there is a higher risk of a complication known as ectasia. This term refers to a progressive thinning of the cornea after LASIK that can lead to blurry vision that necessitates the use of contact lenses. Patients who have an underlying condition known as keratoconus are at a greater risk of developing ectasia after LASIK. Sometimes the signs of keratoconus are very subtle and not manifested before the age of 18.

Why has the FDA not approved LASIK for individuals under 18?

Teenagers below the age of 18 are more likely to have a eye that is still developing. This development, along with hormonal changes that may still be occurring at this age, may result in an eyeglass prescription that is still changing. LASIK is meant to be a permanent procedure, so to minimize the possibility of a second treatment in the future, most LASIK surgeons will patiently wait until the eye has stopped developing and the eyeglass prescription is stable.

What is the significance of vision stability in determining LASIK eligibility?

Regardless of age, all LASIK candidates must demonstrate vision stability with an eyeglass prescription that is within a 0.5 dioptre over the course of a year. If your eyeglass prescription does not show this level of stability, then having a LASIK procedure that permanently changes the shape of your eye may not be the best idea. If your surgeon is trying to treat a moving target then there is a higher risk of an incorrect treatment leading to blurry vision after your surgery, and the potential need for another vision correction procedure in the future.

How is ocular maturity evaluated for LASIK candidacy?

During your consultation a comprehensive evaluation of your eyeglass prescription, corneal health, and over all eye health will be conducted. A high powered microscope will also be used by the surgeon to evaluate your eyes. Your prescription can then be compared to old prescriptions of glasses and contacts to affirm that there is indeed stability in your eyeglass prescription.

What alternative vision correction options exist for individuals younger than the LASIK age requirement?

Teenagers below the age of 18 may benefit from eyeglasses or contact lenses for vison correction under the guidance of an optometrist. After the age of 18 a more thorough evaluation of candidacy can be performed to determine if LASIK is a safe option for the patient.

What does the pre-LASIK evaluation process involve, and why is it important?

The pre-LASIK evaluation process involves the assessment of your old eyeglasses prescriptions, a new evaluation of your eyeglass prescription, a topographic image of your cornea that provides wavefront data (i.e. the specific route that light rays use to go to your retina in the back of the eye), a tomographic image of your cornea (a three dimensional reconstruction of your cornea), and an evaluation of the retina and optic nerve in the back of the eye. Based on this thorough evaluation, a customized surgical plan will be created to optimize your vision. Options for vision correction include LASIK, PRK, Intraocular Collamer Lens implant (ICL), Refractive Lens Exchange, or Cataract surgery. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for vision correction. Your thorough pre-operative evaluation will allow your surgeon to confirm that vision correction surgery is a safe option for you. In addition, you will be able to gather all of the information you need and get all of your questions asked. We believe in a collaborative model where the patient is a partner in the journey to clear vision.

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Dr. Nimesh Pathak is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has dedicated his career to vision correction procedures such as LASIK and premium cataract surgery. He has given thousands of patients visual freedom in pursuit of his goal to deliver the benefits of clear vision with a personalized experience.

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