September 23, 2022

Does LASIK Last Forever?

The prospect of wearing glasses or contact lenses every day for the rest of your life makes laser vision correction a tempting option for many.

But with the costs associated with refractive surgery, it’s natural to wonder how long the results of the procedure will last, so it’s not surprising that one of the most common questions we get asked about laser vision correction is: “Does LASIK eye surgery last forever?”

Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward yes or no answer to this question. Your future vision can’t be absolutely predicted as it’s subject to change and fluctuates over your lifetime.

However, we have a very good understanding of the common ways in which eyes change over time for all levels of refractive error: short-sight, long-sight, astigmatism and presbyopia.

How Long Does LASIK Last?

Although it’s difficult to give an exact number for the length of time the results of LASIK surgery last, we have had reviews from patients stating their eyesight is still perfect more than a decade later.

Had my eyes lasered by David Allenby 11 years ago at the age of 63 and they are still perfect.

Mrs Lasenby

The longest benefit comes from LASIK surgery for short-sight and astigmatism treatments, assuming the prescription is stable at the time of the procedure.

But whilst the procedure does make a permanent change, natural anatomical conditions and ageing can have an impact on how it affects your vision over the long term.

These changes are somewhat different for everybody, so there’s no predicting how the treatment may affect you and how long it may last for.

In order to get a full understanding of just how long LASIK enhancement surgery lasts for, it’s necessary to get to full grips with how the procedure works.

How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

Laser enhancement surgery involves reshaping your cornea to correct refractive errors including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia (the need for reading glasses).

A lot of people may associate LASIK surgery with pain and discomfort but they couldn’t be more wrong.

Firstly, your surgeon will provide you with a local anaesthetic to numb the targeted area. These are in the form of eye drops, so don’t worry if you’re not the biggest fan of needles.

After the numbness has kicked in, the surgeon will use a femtosecond laser to create a thin, precise flap in the cornea.

This corneal flap is then folded gently out of the way, and the collagenous tissue underneath is then reshaped using excimer laser, steepening or flattening the cornea to create better vision through the sharper focus of light onto the retina.

This removal is a permanent alteration, but everybody’s eyes are different, so the results can vary over time.

It also means that the thickness of their corneas is different too, so that can determine whether or not you can have a follow-up treatment.

In the past, surgeons would have used a small blade to create the corneal flap, but if you encounter a surgeon still operating this way, we’d advise that you choose elsewhere. The laser produces more accurate results and offer the best possible outcome for the clearest eyesight.

Once the tissue has been reshaped so it can properly focus light onto the retina, the new flap will be put back in place and the surgery is complete. It’s as easy as that.

LASIK surgery is a very short procedure, taking just a matter of minutes, and it’s not painful.

Patients may feel some pressure when the surgeon is creating the flap in their cornea, but other than that, it’s a comfortable procedure.

Does Age Affect LASIK Eye Surgery?

As we’ve mentioned, over the course of your lifetime, your eyes are going to change, particularly for reading vision – it’s natural.

Your distance vision and prescription tend to stabilise in your twenties, which is regarded as the start of the optimal age for LASIK enhancement (anywhere in the range of 18-65 can be suitable for treatment).

Optical errors and close vision issues become more common as you get older, particularly as you enter your forties.

This is due to presbyopia, a condition that’s a natural part of ageing and affects everyone by the early fifties. This isn’t anything to do with your corneas but it affects the natural lens, becoming more rigid with time, reducing the ability to flex and ‘zoom in’ for reading.

So, whether you’ve had laser eye surgery or had 20/20 vision your entire life, your near vision will naturally worsen with age.

Fortunately, LASIK Blended Vision correction is an excellent option for many people to allow them to read again without glasses.

Is Further Corrective Surgery Required?

There are two common situations where a further surgical procedures may be needed:

  • Some adjustment is needed after the first procedure, often referred to as an enhancement procedure, to fine-tune the initial outcome. This occurs in around 1-4% of cases for most prescriptions.

  • Patients have had a successful correction of their distance vision, but then, years later, develop the normal need for reading glasses in their 40s. This can often be helped with a second laser procedure to create Blended Vision.

Your surgeon should monitor your recovery and let you know if further attention is required. Any additional treatment is usually carried out between three to six months after the initial procedure.

The changes made to the cornea are permanent but the natural effects of ageing mean that patients aren’t guaranteed 100% vision forever. Blended Vision correction can offer a return to freedom from glasses, even if previous surgery has been performed.

Obviously, another consultation will be needed and the patient must be confirmed as suitable before another treatment can be offered.

Does LASIK Wear Off?

So does LASIK wear off?

It’s been around 25 years – is that really enough time to discern long-term effects?

Yes, it would appear so. There are rare changes that have been observed up to 2 years after treatment (and which are treatable), otherwise, we haven’t seen any other effects, even over the following 20 years.

We know that the cornea gets stronger with age due to the action of ultraviolet light, hence the long-term safety profile as we get older seems excellent.

Additionally, based on the physiology of the cornea we don’t conceive of a mechanism where late changes in focus can occur after excimer laser treatment.

At Focus, we have only seen a return of short-sight after the 1 year standard aftercare period in 1 in 800 (0.125%) cases.

It is important though to ensure your prescription is stable before surgery. Our lifetime care guarantee means we retreat such rare cases in the first 10 years post-treatment, for free.

Long-sight however is an age-related condition, so even if the LASIK is fully stable, the effect of the surgery will decline as the problem progresses over time.

Laser Vision Correction By Focus Clinics

At Focus Clinic, we’re the only clinic in the country with a 100 per cent success rate. This is why we’re the UK’s most trusted laser eye surgery clinic, ranked #1 on TrustPilot for all UK clinics.

We’ve created a free pack that includes everything you need to know about laser eye surgery. From the procedures to the benefits and potential side effects, it’s all included there.

But feel free to get in touch with us if you have any brief queries that you need help with.

Download our free pack below.

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