How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Take?

Fact or fiction?

One of the most common myths regarding LASIK surgery is that the effect wears off, or there’s concern over how long laser eye surgery lasts. This is not true.

In fact, the effects of LASIK are permanent and should last indefinitely in the vast majority of cases, so there’s no need to wonder “How long does LASIK last, and does it wear off?”

During LASIK surgery, an excimer laser changes the shape of the cornea, which is the clear outer structure of the eye. This shape change corrects near-sightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

The laser works by vaporising thousandths of millimetres of corneal tissue. These changes are permanent and the cornea does not regrow, meaning that the effects of LASIK doesn’t wear off.

A small percentage (1% at Centre for Sight) of patients heal differently than normal patients and require an enhancement or touch-up of their original treatment, but this is not because the effect of the original LASIK laser eye surgery procedure wore off. Typically, patients are fine but over the first 6 weeks due to changes and more often in those who particularly have dry eyes after surgery.

Typically results at 6-12 weeks are stable and the need for enhancement is less likely after this period.

Can vision change after LASIK?

Patients are usually only treated if their prescriptions are stable, however a small percentage of those in their very early 20’s may well become slightly more short-sighted as they get into their mid-twenties. This is seen more often in for instance university students who spend long hours reading intensely during those years. This change is due to a lengthening of the eyeball and is not related to the LASIK surgery, as the cornea changes made by the laser are permanent.

A change following LASIK can occur in those who are becoming presbyopic (need reading glasses). This occurs because the lens in the eye becomes hard and “dysfunctional”.  The lens can no longer change shape as easily and also becomes denser.

This change in the lens within the eye can influence the overall power of the eye and result in a change in vision. Again it is not the LASIK that has changed but another structure in the eye, the lens within.

The lens in the eye initially becomes harder and denser and eventually becomes cloudy (a cataract).  These changes are unrelated to the LASIK surgery and occur in everyone with advancing age, so when wondering how long laser eye surgery lasts, it basically comes down to your age!

The good news is there are solutions for this problem including in those who have had LASIK or other laser vision correction procedures.

Read more on Laser Vision Correction procedures

Laser Vision Correction Procedures – Centre for Sight

Author Information

Authored by Sheraz Daya MD FACP FACS FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon & Medical Director, June 2019.

Next review due June 2020.

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