No Lasik until age 21
Laser eye surgery is a type of refractive surgery that reshapes the eye’s cornea to correct vision problems such as near and far sightedness and blurred vision. Up until around the age of 21, young eyes are still developing and there is a chance that children’s vision will continue to change even after Lasik surgery, according to an article in everydayhealth.com.
The FDA originally approved laser eye surgery for people 18 and older but when the custom Lasik came out in 1997, the age changed to 21, Scott says.
The most important thing is to see if a patient’s prescription is stable – generally making sure it has not changed in at least a year, Scott says.
“If someone is 21 or 24 and there prescription is not stable we recommend that they not have Lasik surgery,” she says.
Scott says parents who have had Lasik surgery often ask about the surgery for their children. But she explains that when teenagers go to college, they are reading a lot so it’s common for their prescriptions to still be changing. She says she will treat patients as young as 18 if there are military or job related reasons but in these cases PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is performed which has a longer recovery but is less invasive, she says.
There are some extreme cases where laser surgery may be done on a child who has a very different prescription in each eye. In these cases, there is a threat of vision loss in the weaker eye from lack of use. But overall, Scott says she counsels her patients to wait until they are 21 or older and their prescription is stable.
“It’s a great gift for college graduation, not high school graduation,” she says.