Updated on 

May 6, 2022

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LASIK Age Requirements and Limits

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get LASIK?

Since its invention and approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), laser vision correction has revolutionized the field of optometry.1 Many have achieved 20/20 vision after laser surgery. 

Today, the most popular laser surgery is LASIK

LASIK surgery uses a special laser device known as an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and correct visual issues.

Refractive errors LASIK surgery can correct include:

According to statistics, about 700,000 people in the United States undergo LASIK eye surgery every year.2

Studies also indicate that 96 percent of LASIK patients report overall satisfaction after the procedure.3 Among these, 90 percent achieve 20/20 vision or better.

However, not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK. Factors such as age and health status are significant determiners of LASIK eligibility.

Thinking about LASIK? Start a conversation with an experienced Patient Counselor to find out if laser eye surgery is right for you. Learn More

Minimum Age for LASIK

There is no strict age limit for LASIK eye surgery. However, the FDA recommends the procedure only if you’re 18 years or older. 

For most surgeons, 25 years is the ideal age for LASIK. 

When LASIK was first introduced, many older patients could afford it. Today, more younger patients are seeking LASIK surgery to restore their perfect sight. The contributing factors to this include:

Its popularity. More young people are getting to know about LASIK.

Affordability. More young people can afford LASIK surgery due to the availability of financing options such as health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).4

Most patients in their mid-20s have a stable eye prescription and haven’t yet developed presbyopia (age-related nearsightedness). 

Although surgeons have successfully performed LASIK on children, the risk of changing vision is high in childhood and early adulthood.5 Such vision instability can affect the LASIK outcomes. 

The average best age to get LASIK is between 25 and 40 years. LASIK is not usually performed in children. It requires more studies on its safety and efficacy in younger people. 

Maximum Age for LASIK 

Even after enjoying perfect vision for your entire life, your eyesight may start to decline after you turn 40 (presbyopia). 

Your eyes lose focusing power because your eye lens becomes less flexible with age.6

To fix your eyesight problem, you may need prescription glasses or corrective surgery. Fortunately, there’s no maximum age limit for LASIK eligibility. 

If you’re a non-smoker and you have good general health, you may qualify for the LASIK vision correction procedure.

Some people choose monovision to address their presbyopia.7

Monovision involves correcting the dominant eye to see distant objects while the other is corrected to see nearby objects. This enables you to see far and near at the same time.

If you have a family history of diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts, or other corneal problems, you may not be a good candidate for LASIK.

Cataracts are prevalent in old age and are a major reason why many senior patients don’t qualify for LASIK surgery.8 

Research shows that about half of Americans experience some form of cataract by the age of 80 years. However, the presence of cataracts does not entirely disqualify someone from refractive laser surgery.

If your age-related cataracts have caused the impairment, you may have to seek cataract surgery to correct your vision problems.

Questions about LASIK? Call NVISION to speak with an experienced Patient Counselor who can answer all your questions and set up a free consultation. No commitment required.

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

Other Requirements for Candidacy

Thick cornea

Enough corneal tissue allows for easy creation of the flap. It also reduces the risk of complications associated with a thin cornea.

No underlying conditions

Patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or Sjögren’s syndrome may affect results.

Stable eyeglasses and contact lens prescription

A successful LASIK procedure requires a stable eye prescription for at least a year.

No eye diseases

Eye diseases such as severe cataracts and glaucoma may affect the healing process or lead to complications.9

Not taking certain medications

Certain prescription medications such as steroids, immunosuppressants, and anti-inflammatories can affect healing.

Informed and realistic expectations

It’s important for the patient to gather enough information regarding the procedure to avoid unrealistic expectations. 

For best medical advice, talk to your eye surgeon about your health history, previous surgeries, and any medications you may be taking.

Who Shouldn’t Get LASIK?

LASIK surgery is not the best option for vision correction if you:

  • Are below 18 years of age, due to vision instability
  • Have thin corneas (may result in corneal complications due to lack of tissue)
  • Have large pupils which may cause glares (more than 7 millimeters in the dark)
  • Have unrealistic expectations or are uneducated about the procedure
  • Don't have a stable prescription of eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Have corneal diseases such as cataracts or glaucoma
  • Have underlying autoimmune diseases that can prolong or prevent healing
  • Are pregnant or nursing, hormone fluctuations may affect the healing process
  • Can’t adhere to the post-LASIK care instructions
  • Can’t afford it (it’s an elective that isn’t covered by your insurance)
  • Actively participate in contact sports such as rugby, football, etc
  • Are at risk of dry eye syndrome, which can cause significant discomfort after LASIK
  • Experienced complications after your initial LASIK surgery
  • Are healing from an eye injury

If you have visual problems and feel LASIK surgery may work for you, talk to your doctor. Only a qualified eye doctor can determine candidacy.

Alternative Vision Correction Options

If you don’t qualify for LASIK, below are some effective alternatives:

Still not sure about LASIK? Talk with an experienced Patient Counselor at NVISION to find out if it's right for you.

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure
9 Cited Research Articles
  1. The FDA's LASIK Program,” US Food & Drug Administration 17 Jun. 2021
  2. Number of LASIK surgeries in the United States from 1996 to 2020,” Statista Research Department, 18 Jul. 2016
  3. Bamashmus M. et al.,“Functional Outcome and Patient Satisfaction after Laser In Situ Keratomileusis for Correction of Myopia and Myopic Astigmatism,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Jan-Mar. 2015
  4. How to Use Your FSA and HSA for Laser Vision Correction: 2022 Update,” Refractive Surgery Council, 11 Dec. 2021
  5.  O’Keefe M. and Nolan L.  “LASIK surgery in children,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, Jan. 2004
  6. Adult Vision: 41 to 60 Years of Age,” American Optometric Association (AOA)
  7. The Option of Monovision,” Stanford University Medicine
  8. Cataracts,”  The Johns Hopkins University
  9. Osman E. “Laser refractive surgery in glaucoma patients,” 21 Apr. 2010
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Vincent Ayaga is a medical researcher and experienced content writer with a bachelor's degree in Medical Microbiology. His areas of special interest include disease investigation, prevention, and control strategies. Vincent's mission is to create awareness of visual problems and evidence-based solutions shaping the world of ophthalmology. He believes that ophthalmic education offered through research has a greater impact among knowledge seekers.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/vince/
Author: Vince Ayaga  | UPDATED May 6, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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