In all but the most rare of cases, LASIK results are permanent. In a limited number of cases, some nearsightedness, farsightedness and or astigmatism can return over time. These changes are usually due to changes that can occur in the lens of the eye (the lens we don’t treat) and it is called ‘regression’. Some patients are more likely to regress than others…
The long term results of PRK
The Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery published a study that evaluated the long-term stability of PRK. Researchers in the UK monitored the vision of 46 PRK patients for a period of 18 years. Before surgery, all patients were nearsighted, with an average eyeglass prescription of -4.86 D (range: -2.75 to -7.37 D). Patients who were under age 40 at the time of their LASIK procedure had an average regression of -0.54 D during the 18-year follow-up period. Those who were over age 40 when they underwent LASIK had an average regression of only -0.05 D.
There also was a significant difference when patients were sorted by sex. Women experienced an average regression of -0.40 D over the 18-year follow-up period; men experienced an average regression of -0.08 D. In all cases, the laser procedure was safe, with no long-term complications.
The long term results of LASIK
The American Journal of Ophthalmology published a long-term study on the stability of LASIK results several years earlier and found that among patients who underwent LASIK surgery for the correction of up to -10.0 D of myopia (severe shortsightedness), approximately 6 percent chose to undergo a LASIK enhancement within 10 years due to myopic regression.
In many cases, people who experience minor refractive changes after LASIK or PRK aren’t bothered by the change and don’t feel a need for additional vision correction. Others choose to wear prescription eyeglasses only for specific activities (driving at night, for example), and some choose to have an enhancement surgery performed.
The effects of Presbyopia on near vision
One reason that explains why the myth that LASIK results are not permanent exists is that of presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs in everyone around the age of 40. People notice the symptoms more and more and soon they are unable to see objects up close without reading glasses. In these cases, some people who had had LASIK misattributed the symptoms of presbyopia with the perception that their LASIK results had progressively worn off. This is not true.
LASIK and PRK effects are permanent. With that said, regression can occur, requiring some (about 10% of) patients to elect to have retreatments every 10 years to maintain their perfect distance vision.
LASIK or PRK enhancements might be necessary
Sometimes patients – especially those with high prescriptions before laser eye surgery – will require an enhancement which is a follow-up procedure. With modern LASIK technology, enhancement rates are about 1 to 2% in the first 12 months and about a 1% chance a year after that. We offer free enhancements, should they be necessary and medically safe to do so.
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