The short answer to that question is it depends. Ophthalmologists work under the guidance of a professional community which adheres to the codes of their licenses and the mandates of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA does not recommend LASIK for anyone under 18 years old, and for some situations, the surgery with some lasers cannot happen until a patient becomes 21 years old. In the professional organizations, a Preferred Practice Pattern set of guidelines exist highlighting best practices for pediatric ophthalmology. In general LASIK surgery has not been recommended for children. LASIK in most cases gets its best results when performed on a stable fully grown eye. Children’s eyesight changes and so does the shape of the cornea as they grow. The Preferred Practice Pattern also states the collection of practices remains a guideline, and that individual physicians must determine what will work for their patient. In the area of extreme visual disability, physicians do perform laser eye surgery on children when no other option works.
Pediatric eye evaluations for a LASIK surgery take many opinions and much consideration before becoming a reality. They fall under categories of special circumstances where children have severe disabilities, and little other choices exist to help their vision. In those circumstances, LASIK has become a viable option. Just like all other LASIK surgeries a visit to the Houston LASIK clinic will get a parent or guardian the information they need. Without the necessary visual acuity children may not learn to read and since they have vision may not qualify, for all the services given to the blind.
Studies of LASIK in children
A condition called amblyopia results in decreased vision in one or both eyes. The root cause comes from the abnormal development of vision where the nerve paths between brain and eye are not stimulated properly when a baby or a child. The brain accepts blurry images. Either large refractive errors occur in one eye as compared to the other, or the eye has a misalignment. A third cause happens when children have eyes that do not function in a straight line of sight. The brain literally turns one of the eyes off. One eye becomes stronger than the other creating a lazy eye. The brain must learn how to see the world again. If patching the eye does not work, then LASIK becomes considered. Improvements to vision result from the early intervention. If children do not have improved vision with glasses then they become recommended for LASIK. It has worked well. The risk remains higher for these patients, but the benefits outweigh the risk if pediatric patients are chosen carefully.
Other countries have begun experimenting on using LASIK for children for hyperopia in Russia and China. Those outcomes have not been confirmed by other groups with studies. Hyperopia also known as farsightedness causes many issues as well. The cases of hyperopia were not as extreme as in the amblyopia studies. The studies did report an 8 to 12 percent improvement in vision overall. More research is needed to confirm those results.
Pediatric LASIK continues to become a niche field serving a subset of children’s vision needs. Children’s eyes continue to grow after LASIK surgery, so an additional surgery may become necessary as an adult. Having better vision even for a few years adds value to a person’s life experience especially children. It takes a team of people weighing the risks to determine that.
Houston Lasik leads in providing premium LASIK technologies to Houston, Sugar Land, and the surrounding region. The center’s award-winning medical director introduced revolutionary technologies such as iLASIK to the region. This technology is used by NASA astronauts, Navy SEALS and Air Force fighter pilots. At Houston Lasik, you can now receive the same treatment. For more information, please call (281) 240-0478.