How Young Is Too Young for Lasik Surgery?

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If your child has suffered from vision problems throughout his or her life, you may be tired of the expense and hassle associated with glasses and contact lenses but assume that laser vision correction (lasik) isn't yet an option. While some physicians won't perform this surgery on anyone under the age of 18 because of the vision changes that can continue through the teen years and into adulthood, there may be some factors that can work in your child's favor when it comes to obtaining this treatment at a younger age. Read on to learn more about this procedure and what you'll want to consider when presenting it as an option for your visually impaired child.

When is a child too young for lasik?

There's no strict minimum age for this surgery; however, most physicians will refuse to perform laser vision correction on younger children and teens because their vision will often continue to change. On the other hand, if your child has had the same prescription for several years and hasn't complained of any changes in vision, he or she may be a good candidate for this surgery.

During a lasik treatment, the ophthalmologist will carefully direct a concentrated beam of light into your child's lens, reshaping it to correct the nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism he or she experiences. This process may be uncomfortable but shouldn't cause any pain. After a brief recuperation period during which he or she will need to avoid light and eye strain, your child should enjoy close to perfect vision without any corrective lenses.   

What should you consider before pursuing this treatment for your child?

There are a few factors you'll want to take into account before going too far down the lasik path.

The first is your child's general demeanor, especially how he or she handles medical procedures. If dental visits tend to be a nightmare because your child has trouble sitting still or is reluctant to open his or her mouth for an examination, undergoing laser vision correction (which will require your child to lie still until the procedure is completed, then avoid natural light for about a day until the eyes have healed) may not be the best idea.

You'll also want to ensure that your child's vision won't continue to change. Even if he or she has had a static prescription for the last couple of years, it's possible that future vision changes may still occur (especially if he or she hasn't yet hit puberty). In this case, it can be much more cost effective to wait and avoid having to have a later follow-up surgery to tweak the original vision correction. Your child's ophthalmologist should be able to give you a good idea of whether your child's vision is likely to change in the future.