Laser eye surgery is regarded by many as a procedure to undergo later in life as our vision deteriorates, but in many cases corrective surgery can also benefit younger people.
One of the most common forms of laser eye surgery is LASIK, a procedure that is appropriate for the correction of both nearsightedness and farsightedness as well as astigmatism. There is a clear economic benefit to the treatment in terms of the cost savings that come from not having to visit an optician and not wearing glasses and/or contact lenses. For a younger person undergoing treatment, these savings can be considerable over a lifetime. Younger generations tend to be more active, and post-surgery you can enjoy outdoor pursuits more freely. Imagine the comfort and assurance of being able to swim with corrected vision.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidelines recommending 18 as the minimum age to undergo laser eye surgery. The health of your eyes and the stability of your prescription will be the ultimate criteria by which a surgeon arrives at a decision to operate or not. Surgeons also take into account that there are underlying medical conditions in younger people that do not present themselves until the patient has reached a certain age, and that may affect the outcome of laser eye surgery. To use one example, keratoconus is a condition that many of us are born with, but it does not show up until we have reached maturity. With keratoconus, the cornea becomes weakened and starts to thin. A laser, in reshaping the cornea, could make it unstable if keratoconus is present. In the case of a parent considering surgery for their child, it may be better to wait until the child has at least reached the age of 18 before any procedure is undertaken. Surgeons might also be reluctant to perform the procedure until a patient has finished their studies because the stress of studying on the eyes may lead to a more rapid progression in myopia, or nearsightedness.
You will have many questions about LASIK eye surgery, and your consultant will be happy to answer them for you during your consultation and coming up to the procedure itself. An important issue will be aftercare, and you will be required to follow a certain number of steps to ensure a successful outcome. This is another reason why surgeons prefer to operate on patients of a certain age – they have the maturity to understand what is required of them post-operation. For example, patients are advised not to exercise for two days following the procedure. They are also told to use eye protection for the first month, at least, once they have resumed sporting activity. It goes without saying, however, that many younger people have the maturity to follow instructions to the letter.
If you are considering having laser eye surgery, make an appointment with an eye surgeon, and they can determine whether you are a suitable candidate.
Image credit: Martin Cathrae on Flickr.