Is LASIK more successful on younger patients?
The short answer is: yes. But to answer the question is actually more complicated than it might seem. We need to know what “successful” means to you.
LASIK is not a broad, over-reaching treatment for “bad vision.” It is the reshaping of the cornea (not the lens of the eye), primarily to treat myopia (nearsightedness). Myopia develops in childhood typically and can (not necessarily will) continue to get worse into one’s 20s.
Because most optical problems in the eye after age 40 are due to degenerative changes in the lens (not the cornea), even a completely “successful” LASIK case is not going to prevent presbyopia, the loss of near vision in middle-age -because this is a lens problem, not a cornea problem. To expect LASIK to prevent or correct presbyopia (or another example of a problem that develops with age: cataract) is to miss understanding how human vision works.
It is not necessary to treat the exact amount of myopia a young patient might have to have a successful result. A low degree of planned over-correction will not affect the sharpness of the visual result. If there is a small amount of myopic progression, a young patient can “grow into it” and not need a second treatment later. This is not the case, though, in a patient past 40 at which point the lens begins to lose its focusing ability to compensate and to see at near.
So, in general, the best age for having LASIK is when one is young (16 or over although this can vary). In the 30s and even early 40s, LASIK can be a very good choice still, but will have a shorter period of complete “success.” And LASIK is not often a great choice for people past 50 when the aging lens undermines the success of the corneal LASIK correction.