Can you be too old for LASIK?

Many of my patients have mentioned to me that they have been told that they are no longer candidates for LASIK due to age. The truth is that LASIK generally becomes safer as patients age, so it is not really a safety issue. The laser also has no more difficulty creating an ablation in an older eye as compared to a younger eye. The reason that this idea of being “too old” exists is patient goals; it is only that patients may become too old for LASIK to achieve the objectives they are seeking. The reason for this is that LASIK creates only one corneal shape. What this means is that it is only good for one prescription. Once people reach certain ages (usually over 40), we lose the ability to flex the lenses in our eyes to be able to see both far away and up close. This happens in all people. What this means is that a 62 year old who gets a perfect LASIK surgery will be able to see well far away without glasses, but she would still be unable to read perfectly without glasses. The patient may choose the other option–to be able to read perfectly without glasses, but then she will still need glasses for far away. Usually, this is not completely satisfying since patients have the goal of being totally free of glasses. There are some advances developing in the field of refractive surgery to try to create the “perfect solution,” but, at this time, there is nothing as reliable as LASIK that would work for the 62 year old to be glasses-free for all distances from up close to far away.