Does LASIK Permanently Fix Eyes?

Oct 16, 2023

What is LASIK eye surgery?

How does LASIK eye surgery work? LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a very common procedure used to reduce a patient’s dependency on eye glasses or contacts. LASIK is specifically performed to correct refractive errors in the eyes, which are some of the most common vision problems that exist. This includes myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. If your eyes and overall health might benefit from this treatment, we highly recommend that you contact an eye care professional to further discuss LASIK.

How safe is LASIK?

While all surgeries come with individual risk factors and potential side effects, LASIK is considered a very safe laser eye surgery. This surgery is medically reviewed as having a low complication rate and has the highest rate of patient satisfaction out of all elective surgeries available in the United States. An very small percentage of patients experience complications with LASIK. Fortunately, thorough exams before LASIK eye surgery can help screen out the occasional patient who is not a good candidate for LASIK. If this procedure makes it possible to leave the house without glasses or contact lenses, isn’t it worth considering?

How does LASIK alter your eyes?

During this procedure, your doctor will surgically alter the shape of your cornea—the clear cover on the front of the eye—using an excimer laser. First, a blade device or laser keratome will cut a flap in the eyes. This flap will be folded back so a computer-controlled laser can vaporize the middle section of the cornea (the stroma) and reshape it. By reshaping the cornea, LASIK eye surgery changes the way light focuses on the retina to create images. Thus, the bending and focusing of light—refraction—is corrected and your vision will be improved, reducing your need for glasses.

Will I have to wear glasses or contact lenses again?

The purpose of LASIK is to decrease or completely eliminate your dependency on glasses or contact lenses. While most will not need their glasses after this eye surgery, a patient may still require their glasses or contacts for optimal vision long-term. After your eye doctor performs the procedure, your vision will be improved; however, you may still see the best with the help of eyeglasses. For example, LASIK does not prevent age-related changes in the eyes, so it’s likely that you may eventually need reading glasses or contacts as you age and your eyes change naturally.

How will the eye surgeon know if I’m a good candidate for LASIK?

LASIK is one of the vision correction procedures that is suitable for some patients but not for others. If you are over 18 years of age, have a stable vision prescription, and are in good overall health, you meet the baseline of LASIK candidacy. Additionally, your glasses prescription must be within certain limits since there are limits when it comes to how drastically LASIK can change your vision. LASIK tends to be most effective for individuals who suffer from myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). Generally speaking, LASIK can correct -11 diopters of nearsightedness, +5 diopters of farsightedness, and 5 diopters of astigmatism. If you have a glasses prescription that is stronger than these limits, your eye surgeon may recommend an alternative procedure.

Are there any other options if I’m not a good candidate?

If it so happens that you are not a good candidate for LASIK, that doesn’t mean that you are completely out of laser eye surgery options. At Columbus Laser & Cataract Center, we offer treatments such as Advanced Surface Treatment (AST) as an alternative for those who are seeking vision correction but aren’t good candidates for LASIK. Contact us to learn more about your options.

AST and alternatives

AST is an eye surgery that treats the same refractive errors as LASIK and also utilizes excimer laser treatment. However, in contrast to LASIK, your doctor will work directly on the surface (epithelium) to reshape the cornea—without a flap. This laser technique is noninvasive, safe, and time-tested. AST is well suited to patients with chronic dry eye, thin corneas, and particularly high prescriptions that don’t qualify for LASIK. After your procedure, you’ll wear a contact as a bandage as your eye heals. While the healing process for AST is slightly longer for AST than for LASIK, the results are equally beneficial and often well worth it for those seeking laser refractive correction.

If AST is also not an option for you, we can look at even more alternatives, such as EVO Visian ICL. SMILE is a similar technique to LASIK. At this time Dr. Beran and Dr. Weber do not believe it provides any significant advantage over LASIK or AST. Fortunately, if LASIK eye surgery isn’t the right option for you, there are a number of alternatives to discuss—and that’s what we are here for.

How long-lasting are LASIK results?

At the end of the day, while we cannot control how your vision might change with time and age, LASIK results are designed to be as long-lasting as possible. For the average patient, the results of this treatment last a lifetime, barring natural eye changes. However, about 10%-12% of LASIK patients opt for enhancement surgery after a certain amount of time due to anatomical changes to the eyes and their vision as they age. However, the majority of patients are satisfied with their results and do not require retreatment.

What if LASIK eye results don’t last?

LASIK provides patients with long-term results. However, no part of the human body stays exactly the same during our lifetime. The eyes are no different and are subject to a variety of gradual changes as we age over time. Although LASIK does provide an alteration to the shape of the cornea, natural changes in the eye lens can still occur (which is completely normal). Because of this, some patients will opt for a second enhancement procedure to compensate for these changes later in life to avoid even a small dependency on glasses. However, the average LASIK patient will only receive treatment once. At the end of the day, we rarely need to perform a laser vision correction procedure twice, but it is an option if that is what is best for you after some time.

What factors can complicate LASIK?

There are a few primary factors that can complicate patient candidacy for LASIK. If you suffer from chronic dry eyes, it is much more difficult to recover from LASIK. Therefore, some eye care experts will refer you to an alternative corrective eye surgery. Fortunately, if you are able to improve your dry eye with treatments such as LipiFlow® and nutritional supplements, you may be able to revisit LASIK as a possibility.

Another complicating factor for LASIK is the thickness of your cornea. If your cornea isn’t thick enough, your eye surgeon won’t be able to safely make the corneal flap. This is something your doctor will check during your initial LASIK consultation.

What is the recovery time for LASIK?

Recovery time for LASIK typically is not long; a patient is usually back to feeling completely normal within a day or two. However, your vision itself can take between three and six months to reach its full improvement after laser eye surgery, as it is expected for this process to be gradual. For the first 24 hours after surgery, a patient may experience mild pain, tearing, burning, or light sensitivity. However, this rarely lasts longer than a day. Note that you will need someone to drive you home after this procedure since it is possible you will feel some discomfort. However, you should be ready to drive and return to your everyday routine after 24-48 hours.

Are there any common complications after surgery?

Despite LASIK’s extremely high satisfaction rate, it does come with some possible complications. Serious complications are rare for these procedures, but can include dry eye, glare, and seeing ‘halos,’ ‘ghosts,’ or ‘starbursts’ (blurry or bright patches in the vision). Additionally, sometimes the procedure can under-correct or over-correct vision, meaning that a second round of LASIK would be required. However, these issues are extremely rare.

Can I have LASIK after cataract surgery?

Yes, you can have LASIK after cataract surgery. However, you must consult with your eye doctor beforehand, and a list of factors will be taken into consideration. This includes your current age, visual acuity, and overall health. We do recommend addressing your cataracts before LASIK, if possible, since you can still develop cataracts after having LASIK. However, it is entirely possible to undergo both of these procedures and come out with your sharpest vision yet.

Overall, LASIK does provide long-term changes to your vision. Although there is a small chance of complications and side effects, it is one of the safest elective surgeries in the United States with a very high satisfaction rate. If you are thinking about LASIK, we recommend that you contact eye care experts such as Dr. Weber and Dr. Beran to find out more information and determine if this procedure could make a difference in your life.