LASIK is a type of refractive surgery that reshapes the cornea in order to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. As one decides on whether to undergo this procedure, one question that may come to mind is, “does LASIK last forever?”
The good news is that the corneal changes from LASIK are permanent. However, there are other considerations as well. For example, our eyes can change with age. So now you’re probably wondering, “how long do LASIK results last?” This article will go over all the details.
LASIK Eye Surgery Long-Term and Short-Term Results
LASIK often yields an almost immediately noticeable improvement in vision. Within a few weeks of surgery, your LASIK eye surgery result can be fully assessed. Most people are right on target; however, some people may be slightly over-or under-corrected from surgery, in which case an enhancement procedure may be in order.
As far as long-term LASIK eye surgery results, visual fluctuations may occur as a result of the eyes changing over time. This is why surgeons always want to make sure your vision has been stable for some time before surgery. For example, a teenager may experience fluctuations in their refractive error as their eyes develop and would not make a good candidate for a surgery that yields permanent results.
So, while LASIK results after 10 years don’t change, your eyes may. Does LASIK eye surgery last forever? Only if your eyes don’t change over the course of your lifetime, which as you’ll learn, is unlikely.
Vision Changes After LASIK
LASIK results after surgery may fluctuate due to changes in the eyes themselves over time. One important vision change that everyone encounters eventually is presbyopia, which usually begins in one’s forties. This results in a loss of our eyes’ focusing ability and may require the use of reading glasses, even after prior LASIK correction.
Ocular disease may also develop later in life and have an impact on vision. Common conditions include:
- Cataracts are a yellowing of the crystalline lenses inside the eyes that happen with age. Cataracts can cause blurry vision, poor night vision, halos, glare, and difficulties with color perception. LASIK doesn’t prevent cataracts from developing later in life. Treatment involves surgery that removes the cataract and replaces it with a lens implant.
- Glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve. It is commonly, but now always, associated with increased intraocular pressure. Glaucoma causes damage to peripheral vision. Treatment involves medication, laser, or surgery.
- The risk of retinal detachment is increased in high myopia, and this threat is not eliminated with LASIK surgery. The elevated risk is a result of the length of the eye overall, which remains unchanged with corneal surgery. Retinal detachment is surgically treated.
While vision changes after LASIK surgery are inevitable, the procedure can still yield many years of good vision before these problems arise.
What Is LASIK Enhancement and Why You May Need It?
Most people only need to get LASIK once. The measurements were done preoperatively to ensure that the target vision is achieved in the vast majority of cases. However, a minority of individuals end up under or over-corrected. If this happens, a LASIK retreatment, sometimes called a LASIK enhancement, is necessary.
This is usually only necessary in approximately 1-2% of people in the first year after surgery. Enhancement surgery is very similar to the initial LASIK procedure; however, rather than creating a new flap, the previously created flap is lifted, and then the laser ablation is applied.
A LASIK retreatment may also be necessary if your eyes change over time. The enhancement rate increases by approximately 1% per year. So, for example, up to 20% of people may need a LASIK enhancement after 20 years. By then, you’ll have two decades of good vision under your belt though!
Does LASIK Impact Future Vision Correction Options?
Having a history of LASIK doesn’t usually impact a patient’s vision correction choices moving forward. Glasses and contact lenses are still possibilities, as are surgeries such as lens replacement, corneal inlays, or further LASIK, provided there are no other contraindications.
Patients may choose to have further LASIK on one eye to enable near vision correction once presbyopia onsets. Corneal thickness must be measured to determine candidacy for this, as sufficient corneal thickness must remain to ensure this is safe.
LASIK involves permanent corneal reshaping, resulting in an improvement in vision, often for the long term. Occasionally, enhancement surgery may be necessary. Down the road, when presbyopia and cataracts onset, further visual correction and surgery are often needed. Knowing this ahead of time helps one anticipate what to expect.