Are People in Their 40s Too Old for LASIK?

by Lance Kugler, MD

Is LASIK Worth It For People In Their 40s?

At Kugler Vision in Omaha, Nebraska, we hear from people every day who are ready for a change. They’ve been dealing with the hassles of glasses and uncomfortable contacts for years, and now the added struggle of foggy glasses with their masks is the last straw. But for people over the age of 40, there’s often an additional question we hear: “Am I too old for LASIK? Is it too late?” If you’re in your 40s and wishing for clear vision, don’t worry! We’re here to answer your LASIK questions, including, “Is LASIK worth it for people in their 40s?”

Who Can Have LASIK?

We hear from people all the time who wonder if there is such a thing as being too young for LASIK or too old for LASIK. Let us help shed some light on that. 

LASIK is a long-lasting, safe, and effective vision correction procedure that can provide crisp, clear vision without the need for foggy glasses and uncomfortable contact lenses. People over the age of 18 who suffer from astigmatism, myopia (nearsightedness), or hyperopia (farsightedness) are generally candidates for LASIK. The reason we wait until after age 18 to perform LASIK is because at that age, the eye generally reaches ocular maturity – the point at which the visual systems are fully developed and prescription stabilizes.

LASIK is a highly popular option for people seeking to correct their distance vision in their 20s and 30s – especially for those who begin to experience contact lens intolerance (CLI) in their mid-30s. For people in their 40s, LASIK may still be a good option as they begin to experience age-related vision changes, but their visual progression also opens the door for other procedure options.

If you think you might have CLI, which is when the eyes begin to reject contact lenses, you can check your risk factors by taking the contact lens intolerance quiz at the button below.

button to take the CLI self test

How Do Our Eyes Work?

When seeking to understand who LASIK is right for, it’s good to get a sense of how LASIK works, *and* how your eyes work. When light enters the eye, it is focused by the eye’s natural lens (crystalline lense) onto the light-sensitive back surface of the eye, called the retina. The image is then converted into electrical impulses that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain, allowing you to see the world around you. But if the shape of the eye is irregular, the eye is too long, or the cornea is too steep or rounded, the way light is refracted onto the retina can be distorted. This causes vision in which objects far away are blurry (nearsightedness), objects close up are blurry (farsightedness), or objects are distorted (astigmatism).

 

young woman confident after lasik

How Does LASIK Work?

LASIK works by correcting the outer shape of the eye. Very small bits of tissue are removed, smoothing the eye’s surface and ensuring that the cornea (outer layer of the eye) is not too steep or too rounded. This adjustment enables the light that enters the eye to focus sharply on the retina with no blurriness, resulting in crisp, clear vision without the need for glasses or contacts. 

Today’s LASIK technology is very advanced, and in Kugler Vision’s vision correction suite, we use only the most cutting-edge lasers and guidance systems. Our surgeons are specialty-trained experts  in all seven refractive vision correction procedures. You can be completely confident that when you’re recommended LASIK, it truly is the best, most customized treatment for your unique vision needs.

LASIK has been approved for use in the United States for over 27 years, and over 25 million procedures have been performed worldwide. Patient satisfaction rates are over 98%, and LASIK is one of the most popular procedures available. It’s no wonder that people of all ages are seeking LASIK in record numbers, especially given the current increased issues with foggy glasses. But what about people in their 40s? Why do so many believe they cannot get LASIK? The reason so many people in their 40s mistakenly believe that it’s “too late” for LASIK vision correction is that in your mid-40s, some changes in vision begin to occur.

Vision After 40 – How Your Eyes Change and How It Affects LASIK Candidacy

In your mid-40s, you begin to experience changes in your near vision, typically starting around age 43. Near vision becomes blurry, leading to a frustrating reliance on reading glasses to read menus, books, and even phones or computer screens. These changes are the first symptom of a progressive condition called dysfunctional lens syndrome.

Dysfunctional lens syndrome (DLS) is a three-stage condition affecting the vision of people over the age of 40. DLS occurs because the eye’s natural lens begins to degrade over time. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, the eye’s lens is flexible and able to easily change focus to allow light to focus on the retina clearly at all distances. In your 40s, the lens starts to lose this ability to shift focus and becomes stiffer, rigid, and less able to switch focus from near to far with ease. The effect is almost like your eyes are stuck in “zoom vision” – seeing clearly at distances but unable to focus close up without the aid of reading glasses. If left untreated by vision correction, DLS eventually progresses to stage 3, which is also known as a cataract. Cataracts eventually need treatment to avoid further vision impairment or loss. 

LASIK can be very beneficial for some people in their 40s, but it may be applied in a different way. Some people receive something called Monovision LASIK, when one eye is treated with LASIK for clear distance vision and one is treated for clear near vision. Other people in their 40s who have begun to advance in their DLS may be recommended one of the other seven vision correction procedures, like Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), that will correct their vision long term at all distances and reduce or eliminate the need for reading glasses or even bifocals.

For a fast check to see whether you are a likely candidate, try the 60-second LASIK quiz at the button below. 

am i a candidate button

Am I Too Old for LASIK? Why It’s Never Too Late

As discussed above, today’s vision correction options extend beyond LASIK. LASIK is a great option for many, and also for some people over 40. There is no magic age at which LASIK is no longer an option, and even some people in their 60s and beyond have gotten LASIK successfully (we’re looking at you Keith Richards!).

While there’s no technical upper age limit preventing people in their 40s and beyond from having LASIK eye surgery, there are simply other factors when considering LASIK candidacy as you age. Some of these factors include visual needs, vision goals, any visual conditions you may have, and whether DLS has begun to develop. The great news is that at any age, most people DO qualify for a vision correction procedure. That’s why it’s so important to see a LASIK surgeon who also specializes in all other forms of vision correction treatment – because one of those other procedures may be best for your eyes.

Happy outdoor yoga lady.

Find Out if LASIK Is Right for You

What are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to look into LASIK, and if you’re fed up with foggy glasses or painful contacts, you owe it to yourself to look into your options for achieving crisp, clear vision. Our world-class team has been named Best of Omaha #1 LASIK provider for four years in a row. Come experience the Kugler Vision difference for yourself and begin your LASIK journey today. Simply click the button below to schedule an EyeAnalysis  LASIK consultation online, or call us at 402-558-2211.

kugler vision doctor lance kugler

Lance Kugler, MD, is a specialist in LASIK and vision correction surgery and CEO of Kugler Vision. A proud Omaha native, he is passionate about improving lives through clear vision. Dr. Kugler serves on several national boards, and his practice is recognized internationally as a center of excellence. Dr. Kugler is one of the original founders of the Refractive Surgery Alliance, an international organization comprised of over 350 of the world’s leading vision correction surgeons; he also served as its first president. In 2019, Dr. Kugler was selected as a TEDx speaker, and delivered a talk in Omaha about the worldwide epidemic of nearsightedness and refractive solutions. Dr. Kugler is an Associate Professor of Refractive Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Truhlsen Eye Institute, has been published in many medical journals, and participates in numerous clinical studies to advance the field of vision correction surgery. Dr. Kugler and his wife are proud parents to five active kids. When he has a spare moment, he enjoys skiing, tennis, travel, and fine coffee.

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