Senior Health

10/14/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

LASIK is a popular laser refractive eye surgery performed to correct vision problems. During the procedure, an ophthalmologist uses a cutting laser to change the shape of the cornea (the front of the eye) to improve vision. In this article we drill down to ask specifically: Is LASIK eye surgery for seniors worth it?

LASIK eye surgery benefits

LASIK recipients are often able to see without glasses after the surgery. The laser vision correction procedure is typically chosen by those with the following issues:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia): the ability to see close objects while distant objects are blurry.
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia): near vision, and sometimes distant vision, are blurry.
  • Astigmatism: an irregular cornea disrupts near and distant vision.

LASIK is designed to correct vision at one distance, meaning that if someone chooses the surgery to correct distance vision, they will usually need to continue wearing reading glasses. The alternative is to have monovision LASIK, correcting one eye for reading and the other for distance.

Is there an age cutoff for LASIK surgery?

Those under 18 have not had enough time for their vision to stabilize, so LASIK surgery is not recommended for them. However, there is no upper age limit as long as the person’s eyes are healthy and their vision stable. With these two requirements in place, people in their 60s and 70s could be candidates for the procedure. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) indicates that people over the age of 50 are increasingly choosing LASIK surgery with outcomes similar to younger patients.

Considerations of LASIK eye surgery for seniors

While seniors are at a greater risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma, many of them have relatively healthy eyes and are excellent candidates for LASIK. Here is a list of factors that will disqualify older adults (and anyone else) for laser eye surgery:

  • Eye health: Eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, keratoconus, corneal disease, dry eye syndrome, and amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Vision stability: Your prescription must be stable for at least one year before the surgery
  • General health: Diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and other health problems
  • Eye injury: Untreated infections and injuries to the eye
  • Wearing contact lenses: You cannot wear contacts for a specific amount of time (determined by the surgeon) before LASIK
  • Smoking: Along with all the other issues associated with smoking, it can increase the risk of complications after surgery and affect your healing ability
  • Specific medications: The side effects of some medicines can increase your risk during and after the surgery

If you have any questions on whether you are a candidate for LASIK eye surgery for seniors, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist for an evaluation.

LASIK and presbyopia

Presbyopia is an age-related condition that starts in your 40s, making it difficult to see things up close. As people get older, the lens becomes rigid and can no longer reshape to focus light onto the retina, making it harder to see objects up close. Nothing can prevent or reverse the aging process that causes the condition, but you can correct presbyopia with reading glasses, bifocals, or contact lenses.

5 Tips for Preventing Cataracts

Although LASIK vision correction cannot prevent presbyopia, the monovision technique (having one eye corrected for distance vision and one eye for near vision) might work. Most patients who choose monovision go through a trial with either glasses or contact lenses to confirm they can tolerate it before moving forward with the procedure.

Will I need LASIK more than once?

Usually, only one surgery is needed because LASIK makes permanent changes to your cornea. However, any underlying conditions such as presbyopia can progress over time and cause changes to your vision, rendering the original LASIK procedure less effective.

According to a study examining LASIK’s permanence, 35% of LASIK patients needed LASIK enhancement after ten years. Those repeat surgeries were mostly caused by an underlying condition, such as cataracts or presbyopia, that changed the patient’s vision over time. If that happens, anyone can have a second laser surgery if they have been assessed and determined to have healthy eyes.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff