LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is an eye surgery that permanently corrects your vision by reshaping the corneal tissue. The cornea, which is the part of your eye that helps to bend and focus light to create an image, is not always perfectly shaped. This can cause refractive errors that blur or distort your eyesight.
In LASIK surgery, a surgeon uses a mechanical microkeratome (a blade) or a femtosecond laser to cut a flap in your cornea. Leaving a hinge at one end of the flap, they’ll fold it back to reveal the stroma (the middle section of the cornea). The surgeon will then use pulses from a computer-controlled laser to vaporize a portion of the stroma and replace the corneal flap.
The surgery, which only takes about 10 minutes per eye, ultimately treats three primary refractive errors:
Laser eye surgery is a long-term, permanent solution to correct your vision compared to reading glasses and contact lenses.
LASIK eye surgery is not for everyone. You should not get eye surgery to correct your vision if your eyesight is still developing. If you’re under 18 years old, for example, there’s a chance that your eyes are not yet finished developing.
The best age to get LASIK eye surgery is somewhere between 20 and 40 years old or when you’ve had a stable prescription for at least about two years. Everyone is different, and it’s wise to consult your eye doctor about whether or not you are a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery.
While there is no minimum age for LASIK eye surgery, LASIK is only FDA-approved for adults ages 18 and up. Most eye doctors will not perform LASIK on patients under 18 years old because their eyes are likely to change.
Many eye surgeons may even turn away patients who are 18 years old or older. They typically require a steady prescription record that shows that your eyes have not recently changed. They will review records from your past eye exams to ensure that your vision has stabilized and has not significantly changed in the last one to two years.
Because eyesight continues to change until about 24, many doctors won’t do LASIK eye surgery on patients under 25 years old.
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The FDA-approved LASIK eye surgery age limit is 18 years old. Most people get LASIK surgery around the ages of 35 to 40. However, anyone in the military or law enforcement and professional athletes may be given special consideration at a younger age.
Age is only one factor that affects your candidacy for LASIK eye surgery. Certain eye conditions can also impact your LASIK candidacy. These include the following:
Many people consider LASIK eye surgery to be worth it. But it’s ultimately your decision.
The effects of LASIK surgery last a lifetime. Since the surgeon reshapes the cornea by physically removing its imperfections, LASIK is a permanent solution. A reported 99 percent of LASIK patients achieve better than 20/40 vision, while more than 90 percent achieve 20/20 vision or better after having laser vision correction.
Of course, LASIK is not for everyone. There are some side effects and risks involved:
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