A woman eye

Is there an age limit to laser eye surgery?

Some people assume there is an age limit to having laser eye surgery, over say the age of 50, but your suitability depends on your refraction (the strength of your glasses or contact lenses), your eye surface health, the shape of your corneas, and the clarity of your natural lens inside the eye.

Our vision naturally changes as we get older

The natural lens inside the eye is flexible and changes its curved shape to focus on objects that are nearby or at a distance. It sits just behind the pupil and helps to focus light on retina at the back of the eye. As you get older the lens gets stiffer and loses some of its focusing power. People with good vision then find they need reading glasses. In some cases laser vision can treat this and in other cases it may well be better to have lens surgery to have the natural lenses removed and replaced with multifocal lens implants.

Clarity of the natural lens (cataracts)

The lens also loses clarity with age and when the lens gets misty enough to affect vision, it is called a cataract. Most people with cataracts will need surgery to replace the misty natural lens with an implant. The focusing power of the implant can be chosen so as to correct your distance vision – effectively building your spectacle prescription into your eyes. Multifocal implants can also be used to correct both distance and near vision.

Modern cataract surgery is so successful at correcting the need for glasses, many patients opt to have it before their lenses have become misty enough to affect visual quality. This is called refractive lens exchange (RLE). The older you get, the more likely it is that this option will be preferred over laser vision correction.

Modern laser systems are safe and effective

Many patients over the age of 50 do not have cataracts and still have at least some focusing power from the natural lens. If this is the case, during your examination with us at Moorfields Private, we are more likely to recommend laser vision correction. Provided the eye surface health is good, there is no age limit on when laser vision correction can be performed successfully, and we often use it to fine-tune the results of RLE.

People over the age of 50 are more likely to be symptomatic if they are long-sighted (hyperopia), and may find that they need glasses for distance vision as well as reading. In this group, modern laser systems are very safe and effective. Vision from the two eyes can be blended together – targeting better near vision in one eye and better distance in the other – to provide good vision over the full range.

You are never too old to have vision correction surgery

Many patients choose to have treatment to free them up for travel or outdoor exercise once they retire. The treatment which is most suitable for your eyes is best determined by the right tests and an expert opinion from your operating surgeon.

One of the main benefits that distinguish Moorfields Private from other clinics is that you will be seen at every visit by the surgeon in charge of your care. This level of continuity helps to ensure the right decisions are made at every stage and you get the best results from your treatment.

Ionides, Alex

Written in association with

Mr Alexander Ionides

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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