Too Old for Laser Eye Surgery?

October 17th, 2011
Too Old for Laser Eye Surgery?

As we get older our eyesight changes and for some people these changes can be dramatic. What’s more, anyone diagnosed with an illness such as diabetes need constant monitoring, as eye disease can be a consequence of uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

However, many older people are now looking to have laser eye treatment, particularly those who have worn glasses for a long time. The question is: are they too old?

The answer is a cautious no. If your eyes are generally healthy then the risk of laser treatment should be ok. But it must be remembered that during mid life the risks and benefits do alter, so it is always worthwhile getting advice before doing anything.

Laser surgery involves re-shaping certain layers of the cornea. The best known laser therapy is LASIK or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. The procedure involves precision cutting a very thin strip from the cornea in the form of a flap. One side of the flap is left as a hinge. The flap is moved out of the way, while the cornea is re-shaped and it is then returned into position.

Most eye specialists don’t believe age is itself a major factor in whether they treat someone with LASIK surgery. They are, however, more concerned whether you will benefit from the therapy. There are age related eye problems, which can be a determinant. For instance, laser surgery is often used for the removal of cataracts. However, it doesn’t cure the problem and cataracts can and do re-occur, which means you will have to have another dose of surgery. But this could be tricky – constant therapy can do more harm than good.

Anyone who could potentially develop glaucoma is not recommended to undergo the treatment. Even if this doesn’t develop in later life laser treatment can interfere with the diagnosis of the eye condition. Glaucoma is a condition relating to pressure on the eye. Laser therapy reduces this pressure, but it can mask signs of glaucoma.

Similarly an older person suffering from dry eye syndrome is not a suitable candidate for laser therapy, as it can make the condition worse.

There are a number of other conditions, which also may be problematic. So, while age in itself is not a reason for not getting work done, nevertheless before embarking on any eye surgery to improve your eyesight it is vital that you contact an ophthalmologist or optician before going ahead.

 

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