How Young Is Too Young For Laser Eye Surgery?
As well as all the obvious advantages, having Laser Eye Surgery also makes economic sense. Considering that the procedure will eventually pay for itself by avoiding a lifetime of opticians’ bills, the cost of contact lenses and solutions, as well as glasses and stylish frames, the biggest financial savings are to be made by those who have LASIK when they are young. But how young is too young?
There is no doubt that as we get older time rushes by all too quickly; but in our youth it can appear to take forever. Remember how it dragged even more slowly when we were counting down to something special like a holiday … or throwing away those ugly specs?
Cindy, who began her part time job at the London Vision Clinic in January 2003 – making her technically the longest serving member of staff – told me that her son’s running career had taken off at university.
“He has always run 3K and 5K races and has recently taken on running half marathons”, she explained.
London Vision Clinic administrator, Cindy Beedell’s son, Thomas, had been short sighted since the age of three. As he grew up and became interested in sports, especially running, his sight issues became increasingly irritating.
“He had been using contact lenses, and glasses for driving for some time; but he really wanted to have his sight corrected with Laser Eye Surgery for ages.”
However, like many young people, Thomas would have to wait a while, before the procedure could be carried out in complete safety.
Surgeon Glenn Carp explains: “FDA (American Food and Drug Association) guidelines say that the minimum age is 18, however it may not be safe to operate on some young people until the age of 21 or later.
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“The reason that we don’t treat some younger people is because there are some underlying medical conditions of the eye that don’t present themselves until a certain age.
“The genetic condition known as keratoconus is the main one. It is something that you are born with but which won’t show up until your eyes and body are more mature. In this condition the cornea becomes weak and begins to thin on its own. A laser, used to re shape it could cause it to become unstable resulting in possible problems in later life.
“That is why we are so careful to check for this condition – on average it affects one person in 2,000 and is especially common in people who wear glasses. It can be hard to pick up the extremely subtle early signs of this disease in the young – in older people it will show itself in the cornea.”
Thomas Beedell, had his first eye checks to see if he could have Laser Eye Surgery in his late teens and still by the age of 21 his prescription was not considered sufficiently stable for the procedure. He finally had his surgery in April 2010 and now, at the age of 24, has been able to experience running and altitude training in Kenya – without the inconvenience of contact lenses.
You can also watch a video about upper age limits for Laser Eye Surgery.