Is There An Age Limit For Laser Eye Surgery?

12 May 2021

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Medically reviewed on 17-August-2023

Are you fed up with wearing glasses and splashing out on new frames or lenses? Perhaps you’ve opted for contact lenses but shudder each time you try to place them on your eyes.

If the thought of the small fortune you’ll have to pay for regular opticians’ fees makes your eyes water, you’ll probably be on the lookout for an alternative solution. Laser eye surgery could be the answer.

At Optegra, we use the latest laser eye surgery techniques to correct numerous eye problems, including astigmatism, long-sightedness (hyperopia), and short-sightedness (myopia). This means you’ll be able to live your life free from the need to constantly wear glasses or contact lenses.

However, you need to determine whether you’re suitable for treatment. One question that tends to arise is: at what age can you get laser eye surgery? So how young is too young for treatment, and how old is too old?


What Age Can You Get Laser Eye Surgery?

Typically, people over the age of 18 are eligible to undergo laser eye surgery.

At Optegra, we don’t usually offer laser eye surgery to anyone under the age of 18 years old. This is because your eyes keep changing throughout childhood and your teenage years, and it generally takes until around the age of 21 for your vision to have stabilised.

Having surgery when you’re too young could be detrimental to your eyes and may lead to complications with them as you get older.

Eye Maturity: The eyes of individuals in the 18–20 age range may not have fully matured. The shape of the eye and the vision prescription can continue to change well into the early to mid-twenties. Performing laser eye surgery on an eye that is still changing can lead to suboptimal results or the need for additional surgeries later on.

Stable Prescription: Most eye care professionals recommend that a person’s prescription should be stable for at least one year before considering laser eye surgery. Young adults often experience changes in their vision, making it difficult to determine if their prescription has stabilised.


What is the Recommended Age for Laser Eye Surgery?

The recommended age for laser eye surgery, including procedures like LASIK, LASEK, or SMILE, typically starts at around 18 years old. However, this can vary depending on individual circumstances. The key reasons for this age recommendation include:

Eye Development: The eyes and vision prescription usually stabilise by the mid-20s. Performing surgery before this stabilisation can lead to less predictable results, as the eyes might still undergo changes that could affect vision.

Prescription Stability: It’s essential for the prescription to be stable for at least 12–24 months before surgery. This stability is more likely to be achieved between 18 and 21 years old.

Maturity and Informed Decisions: Older individuals are typically in a better position to understand the risks, benefits, and implications of the surgery. They can make more informed decisions about their healthcare.


At What Age Is It Too Late to Get Laser Eye Surgery?

There isn’t an upper age limit for having laser eye treatment. As you get older, your suitability isn’t determined by your age but instead by whether or not your eyes are healthy.

While younger patients often have concerns related to the stability of their vision and eye development, older patients may face different risks, which include:

Presbyopia: This is a common age-related condition where the eye’s lens loses its ability to focus on close objects, usually becoming noticeable in one’s 40s or 50s. Laser eye surgery does not correct presbyopia, so older patients might still need reading glasses after the procedure.

Cataracts: The development of cataracts is more common as people age. Since cataract surgery can correct refractive errors, some older individuals might opt for cataract surgery instead of laser eye surgery.

Other Age-Related Eye Conditions: Older individuals are at a higher risk for various eye conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration. It’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate the overall health of the eyes before considering refractive surgery in older patients.

Stability of Refractive Error: Older adults typically have had stable vision for a longer period, which can be beneficial for the predictability of the surgery’s outcome.

Lifestyle and Expectations: Older adults might have different lifestyle needs and expectations from the surgery compared to younger patients. Their daily activities and vision requirements should be considered in the decision-making process.


The Best Type of Laser Eye Surgery Depending on Your Age

Different types of laser eye surgery may be suitable for people based on their age ranges. As a guide, the following is typical:

Under 40 –LASIK, SMILE and LASEK

Between 40 and 60+ PRESBYOND LASER first choice, Refractive Lens Exchange  second choice.


What Next? Contact us to discuss your laser eye surgery requirements

Book a free virtual consultation with us today.

Alex Shortt Headshot

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Mr Shortt is a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.

Medically Reviewed Date: 27th February 2024


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