As your eyes change over time, the options for correcting whatever vision problems you may have change, too.
Many parts of our body experience changes as we age and our eyes are no different. For many of us, vision changes can begin as early as adolescence. The eyes can stretch at this time, making us nearsighted, so we see objects up close just fine but struggle with seeing things farther away. These kinds of changes lead to young people who need glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision.
“By the teenage years and early 20s, those distance-vision changes usually settle down,” says Dr. David Williams, an optometrist at LasikPlus. “Unfortunately, as we get into our 40s, many people start to lose the ability to focus on things up close.”
That need to push a cellphone arm’s-distance away to read a text or turn on a flashlight to make out the offerings of a menu in a dimly lit restaurant is caused by presbyopia, the medical term for the aging eye that typically starts to appear in adults over 40. “That’s when patients start to need reading glasses, or even the dreaded bifocal, which allows the lens of our eye to see things up close without doing all that work,” says Williams.
As people get even older, different ocular conditions can become present in the eye, from cataracts to retinal disease like macular degeneration.
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With all of this change over the years, options for correcting whatever vision problems you may have change, too. Williams says that a good rule of thumb is that until you’re over 18 and until your eye prescription has been stable for more than a year, glasses and contacts are the best options for you.
Once you pass those benchmarks you have another option to consider as well. “LASIK is a good option in your 20s if you meet those requirements,” says Williams. “Because it will give you that distance vision back and because the muscles in your eyes’ lenses still work really well you’ll still have that focusing ability up close and far away.”
Translation: you’ll likely have no need for glasses or contacts for many years if you get LASIK done in your 20s or 30s.
If, however, you’ve already moved into reading glasses or bifocals territory, you have a few more things to consider. Of course, there is continuing the use of glasses or contacts, exploring bifocals or multiple pairs of glasses for distance and reading. Then there’s LASIK. Typical LASIK surgery will only correct your distance vision. “When you get LASIK done, everything from your outstretched fingertips out into the world is crystal clear, so that for seeing up close all you’ll need is a pair of drugstore reading glasses,” says Williams. The upside is, you shouldn’t need any more expensive glasses or bifocals.
The other option to consider if you’re in your 40s or older and are experiencing the need for both distance and near-vision correction is a LASIK procedure called monovision. With monovision surgery, the dominant eye is corrected for distance and the non-dominant eye is corrected to see at an arm’s distance, which should eliminate the need for additional reading glasses. Monovision surgery is an option to explore with your optometrist, as it won’t be the best option for everyone.
Later on, if you have eye conditions like cataracts or uncontrolled retinal disease or diabetes you may not be a good candidate for LASIK surgery so your options for vision correction may again be reduced.
Williams does encourage younger patients to consider LASIK as soon as their prescription is stable to eliminate the need for further major vision correction down the road. Of course, LASIK won’t be a silver bullet: LASIK in your younger years won’t make you any more or less likely to need reading glasses later on. However, it is likely to eliminate any more major corrections beyond reading glasses.
According to Williams there is a less than 10 percent chance that your eyes might need a touchup down the road if you get LASIK. “Over time of course things can change, for instance pregnancy and nursing can change the eyes over time as well, so there is a chance, but it’s small,” he says.
If you want to make sure your eyes stay as healthy as possible over time, he offers this piece of advice: wear sunglasses. “No matter what stage your eyes are at, UV light can turn the lenses on our eyes yellow, which is a big culprit of causing cataracts as we get older.”
LasikPlus offers multiple treatment options, including LASIK and PRK eye surgery to meet your unique vision-correction needs. Get your free consultation today.