How Long Do LASIK Results Last?
By Andrew E Holzman, MD FACS on June 13, 2019
While glasses and contacts may be helpful, many people would prefer having clear vision without worrying about frames or cleaning solution. That explains the popularity of LASIK. Each year, Dr. Andrew E. Holzman performs countless LASIK procedures on patients throughout the Washington, DC metro area. These LASIK patients experience all the benefits and freedoms of custom laser eye surgery.
Before undergoing LASIK, many patients ask how long the results of the laser surgery will last. The answer is a bit complicated. Let’s offer a basic but hopefully nuanced answer that will also offer some insight into the complexities of the human eye.
How LASIK Works
To understand LASIK results, it may be helpful to offer a quick overview of what LASIK involves and what it can treat.
During LASIK surgery, the cornea is reshaped using a laser. This custom reshaping of the cornea ensures that light passes through the eyes properly, leading to clearer, crisper vision without the assistance of glasses or contact lenses.
LASIK is able to treat refractive errors, which you probably know better as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
Does LASIK Last Forever?
LASIK results can last a long time and in fact forever thanks to a permanent reshaping of the cornea. Once the corneal shape is changed, it doesn't change back on its own. That said, the effects of age and numerous environmental factors can create additional near-sightedness or far-sightedness down the road. So, there are a very small percentage of patients that may want to have an additional 'touch up' enhancement at some point in their lives. One key factor is if the eyes are stable before the procedure. Our protocols insist that the patient has documented stabilty of their prescription for several years before we will do the procedure. When that is the case, the results of LASIK are much more long lasting/permanent.
Clear Vision for Years After LASIK
The vast majority of LASIK patients in the greater Washington, DC area have reported long lasting LASIK results, with consistent vision quality sustained for several years in a row.
Yet the eye is always changing just like the rest of our body. Given this fact, even people who take good care of their eyes can and will experience age-related near/reading vision loss with time. This is true for all people not just LASIK patients! This is called Presbyopia. All of our eyes age and the reading muscles weaken in the 40's and beyond with or without LASIK. So even if the distance and near vision are perfect when you are in your 20s and 30s, your near vision typically weakens even as your distance vision remains excellent. This is entirely normal for 'normal' eyes and that is what LASIK does-- it makes your eyes like normal eyes.
The Need for LASIK Enhancement
If you are a patient whose eyes do actually change with time and distance vision becomes slightly blurry, you may want a touch-up refractive surgery.
This can be performed even several years after the LASIK procedure was performed. It is a very fast procedure to touch it up if you need it and at our center it is covered in cost by the TLC Lifetime Commitment program.
This touch-up procedure for vision regression is known as LASIK enhancement. When LASIK is done in our hands, less than 1 percent of patients schedule a LASIK enhancement.
Presbyopia and the Natural Aging Process
As stated above, this an unavoidable form of vision loss that is part of the natural aging process.
Presbyopia is a type of farsightedness that starts around middle age when the lens of the eye loses its natural flexibility. This makes focusing on objects that are close up more challenging.
Presbyopia can be treated with bifocals or by patients having multiple pairs of glasses for different distances. This is one of the most common options for treatment.
Patients can also consider laser eye surgery to reduce the impact of their presbyopia. Monovision LASIK corrects one eye for distance while the other eye is corrected for nearby objects. The eyes work together to improve vision without the need for corrective lenses.
There is also a surgical option known as multifocal LASIK (PresbyLASIK), which creates different power zones in the cornea to enhance vision for different distances. The procedure is currently undergoing clinical trials and has not yet received FDA approval.
Learn More About LASIK
If you live in the Washington, DC metro area and would like more information about LASIK and advanced refractive surgery, be sure to contact our laser vision correction center. You can reach our practice by phone at (703) 556-9155.