Norwood LASIK Eye Care Specialists: Am I Too Old For LASIK?
At the Norwood LASIK Eye Care Specialists clinic, LASIK is most commonly performed on individuals between ages 20 to 40. But how advisable is a surgery like LASIK when the patient is in their 50s, 60s, or perhaps beyond?
The Norwood LASIK Eye Care Specialists consider the eye to be an astounding organ in a constant state of change. Most doctors will not preform LASIK on children and young adolescents under the age of 18 because their eyes tend to develop drastically on into adulthood, though in some cases there are exceptions. Providers often consider that individuals wait until their mid-20s because a person’s prescription is usually still changing.
At around age 40, a large portion of the population experience a structural change in the eye which leads to a reliance on reading glasses. This is often due to a condition known as presbyopia. At around the age 60, the eye again begins to rapidly degenerate and the risk for certain eye diseases increases. There are, however, some seniors fortunate enough to get to age 70 or 80 with otherwise healthy eyes and can potentially be better candidates than a 30-year old with chronically dry eyes and diabetes.
Here are some of the eye diseases that may prevent you from becoming a candidate for laser eye surgery at the Norwood LASIK Eye Care Specialists:
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and very opaque. This condition usually occurs in about half of people ages 65 to 74 and in 70% of those ages 75 and over. Cataracts can cause symptoms such as blurriness, poor night vision, and/or distorted colors.
Doctors typically treat cataracts by removing the clouded lens and installing an artificial one, sometimes restoring the patient’s eyesight to its former or near former state. LASIK is not a good option for slowing or preventing cataracts, and is only recommended after having the cataract surgery to treat residual nearsightedness. If you have already had refractive surgery, however, it‘s trickier to choose the correct lenses to be implanted.
Glaucoma is caused by an increased pressure within the eye that disturbs the optic nerve. The disease is very serious and left untreated can cause blindness. The early stages of glaucoma can have no symptoms, so the only way to screen for it is by checking intraocular pressure and looking for optic nerve damage.
If you have a mild or an easy to manage form of glaucoma, you may still be able to have laser surgery, but in cases where it is more moderate or severe, LASIK is inadvisable because your treatment will inevitably become difficult to monitor. Also, intraocular pressure temporarily spikes during the procedure as suction is required to hold the cornea as the flap is cut.
Dry eye syndrome is sometimes a chronic condition for the elderly. This is because, as you age, your eyes produce less and less tears. This causes irritable sensations of itching, burning, or scratching that result in direct relation to a decrease in optical lubrication. Women going through menopause are also at risk as their hormone production decreases.
LASIK can actually make dry eyes syndrome worse, because the procedure involves cutting the flap and severing the nerves involved in tear production, affecting up to 50% of patients. Procedures that don’t involve cutting the flap is less common, but if you already have dry eye the corneal surface may heal less slowly. Before having LASIK you should always have your tear production measured by your doctor.
Presbyopia results from the lens eye naturally becoming more ridged and less focused. The way to accommodate this is by wearing reading glasses—or bifocals, trifocals, or progressives—in addition to contact lens, or in some instances undergoing the corrective surgery monovision. This entails treating one eye for distance and the other for near vision.
Laser refractive surgery doesn’t prevent presbyopia, and if you had the procedure in your 40s, you’re still likely to develop the need for reading glasses within the next ten years. If you’re myopic and you take off your glasses for nearsighted tasks such as threading a needle, laser vision correction may disrupt this advantage.
To discuss your options, contact Norwood LASIK Eye Care Specialists today!