Does age matter for LASIK or PRK?

By September 19, 2008 Uncategorized One Comment

If you are considering LASIK or PRK in Calgary you won’t be considered a good candidate for laser vision correction unless you are at least 18 years old with a stable prescription for at least one year.

There may be rare cases where LASIK or PRK might be recommended for people younger than 18. There are also many people at that age that may not be good candidates due to increasing prescriptions. Some people with higher corrections may not stabilize until they are in their mid to late twenties. It is not uncommon for people with stable prescriptions to need a second treatment (enhancement) following LASIK or PRK, but repeated enhancements are not recommended due to the risk of corneal thinning which can result in corneal instability. For this reason it is wise to wait until your prescription stabilizes for at least one year whether you are 18 or 28 years old.

Once the prescription stabilizes, most people will experience only small changes in their contact lens or glasses correction until they reach their 40’s. Sometime between age 40 and 48 most people will experience a change in their focusing power. This change is called presbyopia and means that a bifocal or progressive correction or reading glasses over contact lenses will be needed for near vision including reading. LASIK or PRK may still be a good choice for people in this age range but reading glasses may be needed after treatment. If you are over the age of 40 you may want to ask your surgeon about monovision. Monovision means that one eye is corrected for distance vision and one eye is targeted for near vision.

For people over 50 years old LASIK and PRK can be an excellent choice for vision correction. In this decade cataracts may begin to form. Cataracts involve age related changes that result in clouding of the lenses inside the eyes. Early cataracts may cause a change in prescription. If your correction is changing and your surgeon has identified cataracts then LASIK and PRK may not be a good choice for you. If your prescription is stable and your surgeon does not see any cataracts or other age related changes then laser vision correction is an option to consider. If both eyes are targeted for distance then reading glasses will be needed for near vision unless a monovision correction is done.

For people who are in their late fifties or older most surgeons will begin to recommend an intraocular treatment called a refractive lensectomy for vision correction. Refractive lensectomy uses the same techniques to remove and replace the lens inside the eye with an intraocular lens implant. Cataracts become more common in this age range and if a refractive lensectomy is done then cataracts will not develop later since the lens inside the eye will have already been removed. If you are in this age group there are some exciting developments in implantable lens technology including the Tetraflex lens which may restore some ability to focus at near.

No matter how old or young you are, your prescription should be stable for at least one year before considering PRK or LASIK. If your prescription was stable and then begins to change it can be a sign of diabetes, cataracts, or other eye conditions and you should contact your ophthalmologist or optometrist for an eye health check.

For more information on eye conditions check out the American Academy of Ophthamology site http://www.aao.org/ or http://www.mayoclinic.com/. To book a free consultation contact Western Laser Eye Associates today.

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