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LASIK: Is it a permanent fix?

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Whether you’re considering or recently had laser eye surgery, you’re likely wondering how long LASIK lasts. For most people who have LASIK eye surgery, vision improvement is permanent.

However, some changes still occur in a limited number of cases. Changes to the lens inside the eye can happen, whether or not you’ve had LASIK, which can cause nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism to progress over time.

Will LASIK be successful for your long-term vision? We’re betting on it. Here’s what you can expect from the procedure:

How long does LASIK eye surgery last?

LASIK eye surgery is designed to deliver long-term vision correction, and for the vast majority of patients, it does just that. This is because the procedure itself reshapes the cornea with laser technology, which permanently fixes imperfections that cause errors in vision such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism

How successful is the procedure? LASIK has a success rate of 96%, based on patient satisfaction, according to a 2016 report from the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery. 

Some studies have shown that LASIK may be most effective for people between the ages of 25 and 40, but individual vision goals and results vary. A LASIK consultation can help address your concerns and expectations.

Can you get LASIK twice?

Most can expect great results with today’s laser vision correction technology, in LASIK eye surgery as well as PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). If you do not experience clear vision immediately, don’t fret — vision can fluctuate during the weeks following surgery.

Should you experience a significant regression in your vision after LASIK, there is a follow-up procedure that can be done to restore clarity. This “LASIK touch-up” is commonly referred to as a LASIK enhancement procedure. The procedure is similar to primary LASIK surgery, and most only need to have one enhancement done (if any) for optimal results.

Keep in mind that most patients achieve 20/20 vision (or at least 20/40 visual acuity) after LASIK. But, if you are unsatisfied with your results, be sure to speak with your LASIK surgeon or eye doctor about whether an enhancement is right for you.

SEE RELATED: LASIK enhancement: When additional surgery is needed

Does LASIK wear off?

A common misconception with LASIK eye surgery is that the effects of the surgery disappear over time. The truth of the matter is that LASIK permanently corrects the vision prescription you have at the time of your surgery.

It is possible for your vision itself to change, however, since LASIK does not protect against natural changes in vision that develop after surgery. If you have a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism), these conditions may progress and cause a noticeable difference in your vision, even post-LASIK.

Many patients also have LASIK surgery before they face natural age-related farsightedness (presbyopia) — which typically occurs around age 40 — and may choose to get a LASIK touch-up if the condition causes their vision to decline. 

In other words, someone in their 30s at the time of their LASIK procedure could choose to repeat LASIK after around 10 years to adjust to these natural changes in vision.

SEE RELATED: A timeline for LASIK recovery

Long-term stability

The Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery published a recent study which evaluated long-term stability of PRK, a procedure very similar to LASIK in the realm of laser vision correction. 

The results of the study suggested that vision regression may be more common in individuals who have laser vision surgery before age 40. Women in the study also showed more regression than men.

Be sure to discuss your long-term vision goals with your surgeon in order to determine the best vision surgery options for you.

SEE RELATED: Other laser eye surgery

Caring for your eyes after LASIK

Since LASIK does not protect against future eye conditions, it’s important to be aware of your risk factors for conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, among others — so stay on top of those annual eye exams!

Vision safety is also critical, especially for those who have had LASIK, as LASIK patients may be more susceptible to eye injuries. Be sure to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation and consider protective eyewear for sports and other activities to preserve your overall vision health after LASIK.

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