Can Teens Undergo LASIK Surgery?
By Andrew E Holzman, MD FACS on February 13, 2015
Blurry vision can negatively affect a person’s day-to-day life in a variety of ways, from driving to reading, writing, and leisure activities. Even interacting with friends and colleagues can be taxing if you can’t recognize them from a distance. LASIK surgery is an effective and potentially permanent way to correct a patient’s vision without the use of glasses or other lenses, making it an increasingly popular and sought-after solution. With this popularity, though, comes a wider range of potential patients - some of whom may not be well suited for surgery.
At our Virginia eye care center, our number one priority is the health and satisfaction of our patients. If a treatment is not truly in the best interest of a particular patient, we will recommend alternative options that can better suit his or her needs. For those seeking LASIK surgery, this means taking a variety of factors into account, such as the physical development of a patient’s eyes and body. Teenagers, for example, may be excited by the prospect of lens-free vision correction, but they may very well need to wait for such a procedure to be performed.
When Can LASIK Be Performed?
When considering a patient’s candidacy for LASIK surgery, numerous factors are taken into account. Such factors include the type of vision condition to be corrected, degree of vision correction needed, shape of the eye, and development of the eye. The latter is primarily influenced by a patient’s age, as most of the body’s growth occurs during childhood and adolescence. This includes major changes to the eye and its vision. Due to this fact, LASIK can only be performed on patients who have finished puberty and thus will not undergo any more significant developments in growth. If LASIK were to be performed on a teen who is still growing, the effects of treatment would likely be altered or lost in the coming months or years, requiring additional surgery to achieve the same results.
Because everyone grows at different rates, there is no particular age at which everyone can safely undergo LASIK. Rather, patients should be evaluated personally by an eye care professional in order to determine whether they can be expected to retain the results of treatment. In general, however, LASIK is not recommended for patients under the age of 18.
Ideal Ages for LASIK
Once a patient is clearly out of adolescence and looking to correct a condition that is conventionally treatable through LASIK surgery (e.g., nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), he or she is likely a good candidate for treatment. For patients who conclude puberty relatively early, it is not implausible that they may be recommended for treatment as young as 18 or 19 years old. However, the younger a patient is, the more likely it is that he or she will undergo natural changes in the coming years that may impede the lasting effects of LASIK. Therefore, most doctors recommend that patients wait until their early twenties to consider or undergo treatment.
The Benefits of LASIK
LASIK’s popularity is well founded: it is a remarkably safe procedure with few risks and exceptional results. Most patients achieve permanently corrected vision that allows them to drive legally without corrected lenses, with three quarters of patients achieving 20/20 vision. For patients who do not achieve the vision they desire, a simple follow-up procedure can boost the efficacy and longevity of results.
Being able to see clearly without glasses or contact lenses carries an obvious appeal to many teens, who may be particularly concerned with their image or looking to save money and convenience in the long-run. Still, it would be wise for these patients to heed the advice of their doctors. If waiting a few more years will ultimately yield the best results, teens will just have to save their excitement for the near future.
Schedule a Consultation
Dr. Holzman is happy to help patients of all ages figure out the best course of treatment for their eyes. Schedule a consultation to learn whether LASIK or another treatment is right for you.