The question of whether children can undergo Lasik surgery is a complex one. With the constant advancements in medical technology, it’s natural for parents to wonder if this potentially life-changing procedure can be applied to their kids’ vision issues.
In this article, I’ll be addressing this exact concern. I’ll discuss the nuances of Lasik surgery, examine the medical consensus, and explore the factors determining whether a child is a suitable candidate for this procedure.
Now, Can Kids Get Lasik?
No, most LASIK eye surgeons won’t do the surgery on people younger than 18.
This is because eyesight tends to keep changing until early adulthood. Although there is no explicit age limit for the procedure, most surgeons and the FDA recommend avoiding LASIK surgery on individuals under 18 due to ongoing vision changes during early adulthood
LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a type of eye surgery used primarily to correct common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The objective of this procedure is to allow you to see clearly without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Imagine your eye as a camera. The light enters your eye through the front part, called the cornea, like light enters a camera through its lens. The cornea helps focus that light on the retina, the back of your eye, like the camera’s film or sensor. For you to see clearly, the light must focus precisely on the retina. However, if your cornea’s shape is imperfect, the light doesn’t focus right, leading to blurry vision. This is where LASIK comes in.
During a LASIK procedure, an eye surgeon uses a particular type of laser to precisely reshape your cornea, fixing its imperfections and helping it to focus light more accurately onto your retina. The whole process is quick, usually taking less than 30 minutes, and most people notice improved vision immediately or within a few days after the procedure.
Children’s Vision and its Development
Children’s vision development is a gradual process that begins at birth and continues as they grow. Initially, newborns see only blurry shapes, but they gradually start recognizing faces and moving objects within the first few months.
As they grow into toddlers, their depth perception and hand-eye coordination improve, which is crucial for grabbing toys and walking without stumbling. By school age, a child’s visual skills should be well developed, aiding in learning activities like reading and writing.
Regular eye exams throughout childhood are crucial to detect and correct any vision problems early. These developments and changes in a child’s eyesight are essential to track to ensure good eye health.
The Impact of LASIK on Developing Eyes
LASIK surgery changes the shape of the eye to improve vision. From a child’s point of view, this could be dangerous.
The eyes of a child are like young trees. Like a tree, a child’s eye grows and changes. Imagine that someone was trying to make the young tree stand up straight and grow taller for good. If the tree is forced into an unusual form too early, it may grow out of balance or warped. This is like doing LASIK on a growing child’s eye.
Since children’s eyes are still developing, LASIK could make their vision worse. As they get older, LASIK may no longer help them see, which could lead to eye problems. There may be dry eyes and trouble seeing at night.
Because of these things, LASIK is not a good idea for kids. Eye doctors wait until the eyes are fully grown and the prescription has been steady for at least a year. This is usually in the middle to late twenties.
Don’t know the potential impact of LASIK on developing eyes? Check out the video below.
Alternatives to LASIK for Children
While LASIK is not typically recommended for children due to their still-developing eyes, there are several other effective ways to correct vision problems in younger individuals.
- Glasses: These are the most common and most straightforward solutions to children’s vision problems. They can correct many issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Plus, they can be updated as the child’s vision changes over time.
- Contact Lenses: Once children are old enough to handle and care for them properly, contact lenses can be a good alternative. They can offer better peripheral vision than glasses. They can be beneficial for children in sports or other physical activities.
- Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) involves wearing specially designed contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea. This treatment can temporarily correct myopia (nearsightedness) but doesn’t offer a permanent solution. Once the child stops wearing the Ortho-K lenses, the cornea will gradually return to its original shape.
- PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy): This type of refractive surgery is sometimes used as an alternative to LASIK, especially in cases of severe refractive errors. PRK also reshapes the cornea, but unlike LASIK, it doesn’t involve creating a corneal flap. However, this procedure is typically reserved for exceptional cases and is less common in children.
The Future of LASIK and Pediatric Eye Care
Due to study and new technology, LASIK and eye care for children have a bright future. Kids rarely get LASIK because their eyes are still growing. LASIK can be used to help care for babies. Scientists and doctors always look at LASIK and other refractive surgeries for children with significant vision problems.
The most important parts of eye care for kids are finding and fixing vision problems. Most of the time, glasses, contacts, or eye surgery can do this. Children with broader eye problems also get help from new tools and treatments.
In the future, LASIK may be safer and better for younger people. If things get better, the cornea can be changed slowly as the child’s eyes grow. Eye exams may even be better for babies. This could make it possible to move faster and get better results.
To conclude, most LASIK eye surgeons will not perform the procedure on patients under the age of 18.
However, children with vision problems still need solutions. Alternatives to LASIK, such as glasses, contact lenses, and other forms of eye surgery, are available and effective in certain circumstances. Regular eye exams are vital in detecting any vision problems early and providing timely treatment.
The future of LASIK and pediatric eye care is promising, with ongoing research exploring safer and more effective treatment options for children with severe vision problems. But as of now, the best course of action is to rely on proven methods of correction and to keep a close eye on the vision health of our younger ones.
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