Teens and LASIK
For millions of teenage boys and girls, undergoing LASIK surgery may be as desirable as going to the prom with the date of their dreams. Yet, unfortunately for those under 18, LASIK may be as unattainable as that fantasy date. Hormones can easily explain the preference for certain dance partners, but why are teenagers attracted to LASIK in the first place? And why does a freshman have a better chance of taking the homecoming queen to the big event better than he does of having LASIK?
There are several good reasons teenagers may have for wanting LASIK vision correction. First, young people are more likely than adults to develop myopia (nearsightedness), a vision problem that affects 30 to 40 percent of all Americans. The vast majority of those who develop the condition do so before they reach their 20 th birthday, usually between the ages of 8 and 12. By the time a child enters the teenage years, he or she will most likely need glasses or contacts to see clearly at a distance. Myopia is generally attributed to heredity; a child is more likely to be nearsighted if she has a parent with the condition. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Second, for some teenagers, glasses and contacts may hold very limited appeal. Glasses in particular can put teens at risk for extra taunting; some may find it hard to fit in with large frames perched on their noses. In addition, glasses may restrict the ability of teens to participate in certain sports and may increase the risk of injury while participating in others. As an alternative to glasses, contact lenses eliminate some of these risks, but they are not without hazards of their own. The proper care of contact lenses entails having to follow instructions that are tedious and repetitive, yet they must be strictly adhered to. Poor sanitation and storing techniques, as well as the failure to properly remove and replace lenses, can lead to eye infection and disease. Although LASIK is not completely without risk, millions of people have safely undergone the procedure and are now no longer dependant on bothersome glasses and contacts. It is little wonder, then, that many teens consider LASIK a more desirable solution for their vision correction needs.
However, unlike adults, teenagers are only able to flirt with LASIK. The Federal Drug Administration strictly prohibits LASIK consummation for those who are not old enough to vote. The FDA is not a stuffy chaperone – they do know what they are talking about. During the teenage years, a person’s eyes are still changing, and vision does not usually stabilize until a person reaches his or her twenties. Because LASIK permanently alters the shape of the cornea, it is far too risky to perform LASIK on corneas that are still fluctuating in shape and size. If the FDA allowed LASIK to be performed on teenagers, the procedure would most likely have be repeated again when they reached early adulthood. The results of the first procedure would essentially be null and void.
If you are at least 18 years old, you may be able to dance with LASIK. LASIK physicians will examine your prescription history to see if your vision has been stable for at least a year, and some LASIK surgeons will not proceed with surgery unless your vision has remained stable for two years. For certain custom LASIK procedures, such as Wavefront™ LASIK and ALLEGRETTO WAVE™ LASIK, a patient must be at least 21 years old. In very rare instances, the rules regarding LASIK minimum ages may be waived to treat children or teens who suffer from lazy eye.
So do not worry if you weren’t able to get a date with LASIK. She pretty much wouldn’t give the time of day to the rest of the class either. But that girl in Algebra II, I think I heard her say she would love to go to the prom with you…
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