How long do the results of LASIK last?
LASIK refractive surgery is used to permanently reshape the cornea of the eye to correct imperfections that cause nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. This is accomplished with an excimer laser that is able to make corrections as small as 0.25 microns, or about one 1/4000th the size of a grain of sand. The result is clear vision for patients with little to no further need for prescription reading glasses or contacts.
Once those imperfections are corrected through refractive surgery, the shape of the cornea is expected to stay stable long term. The corneas will never reacquire the same imperfections that inspired someone to seek vision correction in the first place. Most of the time, eyesight after LASIK can forever be better than eyesight before LASIK.
Does LASIK last forever?
The physical changes made to the cornea during LASIK eye surgery never go away. But that doesn’t mean you won’t need a follow-up enhancement surgery if your original surgery doesn’t achieve the desired results or your eye changes significantly for some other medical reason, such as cataracts.
The need for LASIK enhancement surgery is low – only about 1 to 2 percent of patients require enhancement in the first year after LASIK. The rate increases by about 1 percent annually after that, meaning that after five years, about 5 percent of patients would require enhancement to further improve or maintain their superb vision.
To reduce the need for enhancement, your eye doctor will want to know that your glasses or contacts prescription has been stable for some time prior to having surgery. In some practices, the cost of an enhancement procedure is rolled into the cost of LASIK and performed at no additional charge; others may charge an added fee.
Brinton Vision includes enhancement as part of the cost of LASIK in St. Louis. The doctors here have performed thousands of eye, LASIK and LASIK alternative procedures to help patients get free from glasses. A thorough, 3D eye exam helps our doctors determine which patients qualify for laser vision correction prior to surgery approval.
Can laser eye surgery wear off?
No, but having permanent laser vision correction also won’t keep your eyes from undergoing other normal changes as you age. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and presbyopia can progress over a lifetime.
Presbyopia is perhaps the most common change younger patients experience after laser vision correction. Presbyopia, or over-40 vision, happens to just about everyone eventually. As we age, the internal lens of the eye gradually loses its ability to focus on close objects, even after LASIK surgery to reshape the cornea. While the cornea was permanently corrected through refractive surgery, the lens continues to get older.
Just as someone with great vision will probably need reading glasses in their 40s and beyond, someone who had vision correction performed in their 20s and 30s, may find they need readers in middle age. Often that individual can be a candidate for an enhancement procedure.
It’s important to note that LASIK surgery doesn’t make presbyopia happen sooner or make it worse. LASIK can’t prevent these changes to the eye, nor can it protect from injuries or disease that could damage the cornea or lens – but it offers amazing long-term vision correction and freedom from glasses for those who qualify.
For a patient who qualifies for Visian ICL, the biocompatible lens provides UV protection that prevents harmful UVA/UVB rays from entering the eye. This could reduce the development of UV-related eye disorders such as cataracts.
One note about cataract development: Cataracts cause blurry, cloudy and double vision, as well as image distortion and poor night vision due to advanced age. Once cataracts develop, a LASIK procedure treatment would not be effective unless the cataracts are removed first.
Do you still have questions about the benefits of LASIK? Schedule a consultation and thorough exam to see if you are a candidate for getting out of glasses for good. Call 314.375.2020.
See the next article in the LASIK Questions series: Who is a Candidate for LASIK eye surgery?