SMILE/LASIK and Age: Is There an Ideal Age for Laser Eye Surgery?

Imagine waking up each morning, opening your eyes, and being greeted by a world of clarity and sharpness, free from the constraints of glasses or contact lenses. This is the reality that millions of people have experienced thanks to LASIK and SMILE procedures. Over the past few decades, LASIK has become increasingly popular, offering individuals a chance to bid farewell to the inconveniences of traditional vision correction methods. With a quick and precise reshaping of the cornea, this cutting-edge technology has the power to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. However, as with any medical procedure, the success and longevity of LASIK outcomes are influenced by many different factors, with age playing a special role. Certain upper and lower restrictions exist as well as other health considerations for patient candidacy. 

Understanding LASIK and SMILE Candidacy

While many people have considered and experienced LASIK and SMILE, it’s important to recognize that not everyone is an ideal candidate for the procedure. Several factors play a role in determining an individual’s suitability for laser vision correction, with age being a significant consideration, but certainly not the sole determinant.

One of the primary criteria for LASIK candidacy is the stability of an individual’s refractive error, which refers to the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Considerations like these can be affected by age. Typically, eye doctors recommend that a person’s prescription remains unchanged for at least one to two years before undergoing LASIK, ensuring that the correction will be accurate and long-lasting.

Another factor is corneal thickness. The cornea, the transparent front portion of the eye, must be thick enough to withstand the reshaping process during LASIK without compromising its structural integrity. Individuals with thin corneas may not be suitable candidates for the procedure. Other conditions such as dry eye syndrome, corneal irregularities, or certain autoimmune diseases can increase the risk of complications or affect the healing process, making LASIK or SMILE less desirable options.

While age does play a role in determining LASIK candidacy, it is one factor among a constellation of other factors. When you schedule your free evaluation, Dr. Haddad will be able to determine if you’re a candidate for LASIK or SMILE is the right procedure for you.

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How Age Affects Vision and LASIK and SMILE Outcomes

As we grow older, our eyes undergo a natural aging process, with changes in anatomy and physiology that can impact vision and the healing process after refractive surgery. The natural lens of the eye gradually becomes less flexible, leading to presbyopia, or the need for reading glasses. The risk of developing age-related eye conditions, such as cataracts or dry eye syndrome, also increases as the years roll by. These factors can influence the healing process and potentially affect the long-term stability of LASIK results.

Lower Age Ranges for LASIK and SMILE

Performing LASIK on younger patients, typically those in their late teens or early twenties requires careful evaluation and is a rare occurrence. During this age range, the eyes are still undergoing development, and refractive errors may not have stabilized yet. Proceeding with LASIK before the prescription has stabilized could lead to suboptimal results and potentially require future enhancement procedures.

Lifestyle factors also play a role in determining LASIK candidacy for younger individuals. High-impact activities or sports can increase the risk of eye injuries during the healing process, potentially affecting the outcome. Compliance with post-operative instructions, such as adhering to eye drop regimens and activity restrictions, is crucial for successful healing. A thorough evaluation by an experienced ophthalmologist is necessary to assess the stability of refractive errors, overall eye health, and lifestyle factors before considering LASIK for younger patients. While the desire for clear vision is understandable, ensuring optimal timing and readiness is essential for achieving long-lasting, satisfactory results.

Upper Age Ranges for LASIK and SMILE

Performing LASIK on older patients, typically those in their forties, fifties, and beyond, also requires careful consideration of age-related factors. As individuals age, the risk of developing certain eye conditions increases, which can affect LASIK candidacy and outcomes. Age-related eye conditions such as presbyopia (difficulty focusing on near objects), cataracts (clouding of the eye’s natural lens), and dry eye syndrome are more common in older individuals. These conditions may influence the decision to proceed with LASIK or impact the expected results.

The body’s healing process can be slower in older individuals, which may prolong the recovery time after LASIK or SMILE. This can be a consideration when deciding whether to proceed with the procedure, as it may temporarily affect daily activities or work. While the desire for improved vision is understandable, ensuring that the procedure is appropriate and managing expectations for outcomes are crucial.

Factors Influencing the Ideal Age for LASIK

While age is a significant consideration for LASIK candidacy, various other factors can influence the ideal timing for the procedure. An individual’s lifestyle and occupation can play a role in determining the most suitable age for laser vision correction. For example, those in professions or activities that involve a higher risk of eye injury or exposure to environmental factors, such as dust or debris, may prefer to undergo LASIK at a younger age to minimize potential complications during their active years.

Personal preferences and priorities should also be taken into account. Some individuals may prioritize visual freedom at an earlier age, while others may prefer to wait until they have reached a more stable stage in their life or career before considering LASIK.


Ultimately, the ideal age for LASIK is highly individualized. The only way to really determine candidacy is with a thorough exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist like Dr. Haddad. So, if you’re considering LASIK or SMILE or even if you’re just curious, get started by scheduling a consultation. Or if you’re still deciding, schedule a 15-minute phone call with a LASIK coordinator OR take this quick quiz to find out if LASIK, PRK or SMILE is right for you.

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David Lemieux, BA from Oakland University is a LASIK expert and marketing professional that has worked with Dr. Dan Haddad and the Laser Eye Institute since 2017. David believes in education and cutting through the noise to deliver facts and opinions about LASIK, SMILE, and all things Laser Vision Correction.