How Long Does LASIK Last?
One of the major concerns we hear from potential LASIK candidates is that their corrected vision only lasts a few years.
While each patient brings his or her own set of specific criteria, there’s mounting evidence that LASIK techniques of all kinds are not only providing lasting, improved vision, but their effects are far surpassing expectations.
The truth is that LASIK permanently corrects your vision.
By using a laser to reshape the cornea, LASIK eliminates the imperfections that cause nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. And since those imperfections are gone, the idea that your eyes can “regress” following LASIK doesn’t really make sense.
The one thing LASIK can’t fix is presbyopia, or “aging of the eye.” Sometime around the age of 40, the lens of your eye—not the cornea that was reshaped with LASIK—loses its ability to focus on objects nearby. Even if you were born with good vision in both eyes, you will likely need reading glasses in your at some point—probably your mid-forties. This happens to everyone, even those who have their vision corrected with LASIK.
If you have myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), it may progress over time, even if you’ve had LASIK at some point. You don’t have a knee replacement and not expect it to age with you. While your eyes will never go back to being as bad as they were prior to LASIK, they will continue to change over the course of your lifetime.
Consistent Quality of Vision
As LASIK technology has improved over the last 20 years, so have surgical techniques. Subsequently, healing times have improved as well.
A recent, randomized study of 120 eyes (60 patients) performed at Stanford University Eye Laser Center asked patients to self-report their quality of vision following two different types of LASIK surgery. According to the report, this was “the first clinical study to compare femtosecond laser systems on the basis of self-reported quality of vision." Each procedure was performed by the same doctor to ensure consistency.
Results showed “no significant differences in self-reported quality of vision” (as assessed by a questionnaire) after one, three, six, and twelve months.
While techniques and technology may change, LASIK results remain consistent.
You May Need an Enhancement
Some people need a LASIK enhancement—a follow-up procedure—if their vision changes significantly over time.
The enhancement rate for modern LASIK is 1-2% in the first 12 months, and about 1% a year after that. For example, 10 years after LASIK, approximately 10 percent of patients may require an enhancement procedure to maintain excellent vision. Patients whose refraction (the light entering the eye) is not stable prior to LASIK have an increased risk of needing enhancements after LASIK, so let your surgeon know if your glasses have changed over the last few years prior to your procedure.
Some surgeons charge an enhancement fee, while other surgeons perform these corrections at no cost to the patient. Be sure to ask your surgeon during your consultation.
LASIK’s Impact on Future Treatment Options
As mentioned earlier, LASIK treats your existing vision correction needs but doesn’t prevent the changes that naturally occur with age – such as presbyopia and cataract. However, LASIK doesn’t impact your ability to choose surgical treatment options for those conditions down the road. These include lens replacement surgery, corneal implants, and monovision LASIK – in which one eye is corrected for distance and one eye for reading.
In short, LASIK eye surgery permanently reshapes the cornea to correct vision conditions including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It’s the best way to rid yourself from the hassle of glasses and contacts, which may interfere with your lifestyle.
But Will It Last?
Now that we’ve addressed the question of consistency, the question still remains: Will it last?
A similar - albeit less scientific - report of sustained vision demonstrates lasting results long after patients’ initial LASIK procedures. Christenbury Eye Center in Charlotte, North Carolina recently reported that two long-time patients continue to demonstrate 20/15 and 20/20 corrected vision 14 years after their initial procedures.
Fully expecting to need reading glasses years after their surgery, these patients remain pleasantly surprised by how good their distance eyesight remains.
Here at Grene Laser, only four percent of the patient’s who have refractive surgery come back to have an enhancement. That means that 96 percent of our patients experience lasting results with their corrected vision.
Again, while each case differs, and your results may vary, LASIK is proving time and time again to demonstrate lasting, positive effects on patient’s vision and their quality of life.
In short, LASIK and PRK are safe procedures that not only improve your life and health, but do so for decades.
If you have more questions about how long LASIK lasts or if LASIK permanent, schedule a free consultation with us today!
(source: American Refractive Surgery Council)