How Long Does LASIK Last?

January 30, 2022


Laser-assisted in-situ-keratomileusis or LASIK is one of the most commonly performed laser refractive surgery to correct problems with vision. LASIK surgery involves the use of a special type of cutting laser to precisely change the shape of the cornea to help improve vision. In eyes with healthy vision, the cornea bends or refracts light precisely onto the retina at the back of the eye. When it doesn’t bend correctly, light is unable to focus on the retina, and your vision becomes blurry. This condition is referred to as a refractive error.

Types of Refractive Errors Corrected by LASIK

Refractive errors are a type of vision problem that makes it hard to see clearly. Refractive errors are some of the most common types of vision problems that affect more than 150 million Americans. LASIK eye surgery is used in correcting three main types of refractive errors:

  • Near-sightedness (myopia)
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia)
  • Astigmatism

For patients with near-sightedness (myopia), objects tend to be clearer the closer they are, and distant objects appear blurry. This is caused when a patient’s eyeball is slightly longer than normal or when the corneas curve too sharply, causing the light rays to focus in front of the retina and blur distant vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it is estimated that around 9.6 million adults in the United States are highly myopic or severely near-sighted.

For patients with farsightedness (hyperopia), images end up focusing elsewhere, resulting in blurred vision. Patients who are farsighted can see distant objects more clearly than nearby objects. This is caused when the eyeball is shorter, or the cornea is flatter than usual, and the light focuses behind rather than on the retina, resulting in blurry vision. According to the National Eye Institute, farsightedness affects around 5 to 10 percent of American adults and children.

Astigmatism is a condition in which your eyes aren’t completely round but are shaped more like a football. This condition occurs when either the front surface of the cornea or the lens inside your eye has mismatched curves. This causes the light to bend more in one direction than the other resulting in blurry vision at all distances. Astigmatism is often present at birth and may occur in combination with near-sightedness or farsightedness. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this form of refractive error affects around 1 in 3 people in the US.

LASIK eliminates the imperfections of refractive errors by using lasers or small blades to reshape the cornea, so your eyes are able to bend light correctly and focus it on your retina resulting in clear, sharp vision close up and far away. The goal of LASIK eye surgery is to improve vision, so you’re no longer in need of corrective lenses such as prescription glasses and contact lenses.

Who is at Risk of Refractive Errors?

Refractive errors can affect anyone. The most common symptom is blurry vision. Other symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Squinting
  • Hazy vision
  • Headaches
  • Seeing a glare or halo around bright lights
  • Trouble focusing
  • Eyestrain

Refractive errors such as near-sightedness usually start during childhood. So talk to your doctor about your risk of refractive errors, and ask how often you need to get checked. Your doctor can check for refractive errors as part of a comprehensive eye exam by requiring you to read letters from a variety of distances. Your doctor will also give you some eye drops to dilate your pupil to check for other eye problems.

Refractive errors can be corrected through the use of prescription glasses, contact lenses, or LASIK surgery.

How Long Does LASIK Last?

There is a common misconception that LASIK is not permanent and that it only lasts a few years. However, the reality is, LASIK can permanently correct the vision prescription of near-sightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, that you come in with before the procedure. The patient’s eyesight does not regress following LASIK, but what does happen is that some patients may experience a progression of their myopia (near-sightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) due to the natural aging process. Like all living things, your eyes can change over the course of your lifetime, but they will never go back to being as bad as they were prior to LASIK.

The basis for this myth comes from the reality of presbyopia. A refractive vision error that makes it hard for middle-aged and older adults to see things up close. LASIK procedures don’t prevent it, but it happens to almost everyone. Presbyopia is caused by the lens’s inability to focus light correctly on the retina. Presbyopia is a natural consequence of aging that usually affects people aged 40 and older.

Even if you were born with good vision in both eyes, you are likely to require reading glasses in your mid-forties, and the same is true for people who have had LASIK done. It is important to note that LASIK doesn’t cause or worsen presbyopia, and it certainly does not cause it to develop sooner.

How long LASIK lasts depends solely on:

  • How old you are
  • When you had the LASIK procedure done
  • How much your eye conditions progress

People who do have LASIK procedures performed do go on to have clear and consistent vision even 10 years down the line.

How Effective Is LASIK Surgery?

According to the American Refractive Surgery Council, LASIK success rates include:

  • Approximately 99 percent of patients who have LASIK regain full or close to full visual acuity.
  • Over 90 percent of patients achieve a 20/20 vision.
  • LASIK has an unprecedented 96% patient satisfaction rate, the highest among all elective procedures.

According to studies conducted by the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery, LASIK procedures have a high rate of safety, performance, consistency, outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

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