Laser in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, reshapes the cornea to improve vision. For most people, this procedure offers permanent vision correction; however, various factors can influence vision in the long term. You’ll want to talk to your LASIK specialist about what to expect in your particular situation, but this article will provide some general information on this topic as well.
LASIK is used to correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. The procedure targets the cornea, the clear tissue on the front of the eye. First, a flap is created in the cornea using a femtosecond laser or a blade, depending on the surgeon. Then, this flap is lifted and an excimer laser is applied to reshape the cornea according to the patient’s needs. Once the treatment is complete, the flap is replaced to protect the cornea and help with healing.
In the short term, LASIK certainly has a “wow factor”. In most cases, an improvement in vision is noticeable almost immediately, with continued improvement in the next 24 hours. Nevertheless, it is important to follow all post-operative instructions, including abiding by all restrictions and taking prescribed medications. Although the vision improvement is very quick, healing is still underway for some time.
In the long term, some people experience regression of the laser treatment. One may notice that vision once again becomes blurry. There are various factors that can contribute to this, so a full evaluation by an eye doctor is necessary to determine the root cause.
In some cases, a refractive error like myopia and hyperopia can return over time. In this case, a repeat procedure may help to improve vision.
In others, the reason for the change in vision is unrelated to refractive error or LASIK. For example, presbyopia starts to impact near vision around the age of 40. In presbyopia, the crystalline lens inside the eye stiffens, making focusing on near objects more difficult. Individuals may start to need reading glasses to see up close as a result.
The ocular disease can also become a factor that impacts vision with age. Cataracts, for example, are quite common. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, which causes blurring of vision. Cataracts ultimately require surgical removal. There are other diseases that can impact the eyes with age as well, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma, among others.
So, does LASIK permanently fix eyes? That’s certainly the goal, but there are other factors that can interfere with vision over time. The more time has passed since you’ve had LASIK, the greater the chance of age-related vision changes developing.
If vision seems to have declined after 10 years, it’s possible that a LASIK enhancement could be of benefit. First, other conditions need to be ruled out as the cause for the change in vision. If the vision decline is a result of the return of refractive error, then repeat LASIK surgery after 10 years may be the solution.
If an enhancement is being considered, your surgeon will want to ensure that sufficient corneal tissue remains for the procedure. Just like the initial surgery, corneal tissue will need to be removed to reshape the cornea. Your surgeon will take measurements to ensure that further tissue removal is safe.
LASIK 10 years later is much like the initial procedure. Instead of creating a new flap, however, the initial flap is simply lifted again. An excimer laser is applied to reshape the cornea according to the patient’s refractive needs. The flap is then replaced over the treated area.
After getting LASIK, you may think about your eyes less, since your vision is so clear. Still, it’s important to take care of your eyes to ensure their health for the long term. Here are some tips on how to do this:
LASIK is a permanent treatment for refractive error. Over time, however, various factors may contribute to vision changes. In some cases, these vision changes can be addressed with a LASIK enhancement procedure. In other cases, the vision changes are unrelated and may need entirely different treatment.
If you’re wondering if you’re a candidate for LASIK or an enhancement procedure, try our online self-evaluation test. If you’re ready to schedule your appointment, you can contact us using our online form. Discover Vision Centers has multiple locations in Kansas and Missouri to serve all your refractive surgery needs.