Laser eye surgery is an extremely common procedure for adults but can it be used to treat children’s visual problem? Hundreds of thousands of children need to wear glasses in the UK and there is often a stigma attached to wearing them, making laser eye surgery a tempting option.
Unfortunately the current youngest age for laser eye surgery is 18 years old but most clinics will actually insist that you are at least 21 years old. There are a couple of reasons that surgeons insist that a patient is this age and the most common ones are below:
Stable prescription: This is by far the most important factor when deciding the age that someone is suitable for laser eye surgery. It is quite common for prescriptions to continue to change right up until a person’s mid-twenties. Having a minimum age of 21 years old goes a long way in ensuring that the eyes have stabilised. Your surgeon will generally ask to see historical records of your last few prescriptions to check your eyes are not changing.
Compliance: It is extremely important to follow the post-surgical instructions to give yourself the best chance of a speedy and successful recovery. Younger children are less likely to be as compliant as adults, which is another reason that a minimum age of 18 years old is set.
In summary, whilst in theory laser eye surgery could be carried out on a child it is not something that surgeons will currently consider. In addition to this, laser eye surgery is not covered on the NHS meaning it would be an expensive procedure which would have to be covered by the parents of the child. It is also worth mentioning here that laser eye surgery cannot be used to treat children who have a lazy eye and this is the same regardless of your age. So even once you reach the age of 18 years old, laser eye surgery will not be able to correct your lazy eye.