In this particular episode of Ask an Eye Doc, you will learn:
- How long the effects of LASIK typically last
- What age you should wait to have LASIK
- Why you’ll eventually need reading glasses after LASIK
This episode will make more sense if you have already listened to the following episodes:
- episode 4 – why can’t I see up close anymore
- episode 13 – what is nearsightedness
- episode 20 – what is the cornea
- episode 21 – what exactly is LASIK?
For you readers out there, here’s the answer in written form:
Last week a patient of mine asked me how long LASIK lasts. She had LASIK 3 years ago and was wondering how long she might expect to have good vision after the surgery.
If you don’t already know what LASIK is, be sure to check out episode 21 .
When you invest a couple thousand dollars in LASIK so you don’t need glasses anymore, naturally you’d like to know how permanent those changes are going to be. Maybe you know someone who had LASIK who is back in glasses again.
How long the effects of LASIK last depends on the individual. I’ve personally seen patients who have had LASIK and didn’t need to wear any glasses at all for about 20 years after the procedure. I’ve also seen patients who start wearing glasses again after 5 years. It’s hard to say what the difference is.
I would say most people have LASIK because they are nearsighted. Myopic progression happens as axial length slowly increases over time, which means your prescription gets stronger and stronger over time. If that last sentence didn’t make sense to you, be sure to review episode 13 on what causes nearsightedness.
My point is that eventually myopic progression levels off, so the best thing you can do to maximize your LASIK results is to wait to have it done until your prescription is stable for 3 years in a row. This usually happens somewhere between your mid-20’s and early 30’s.
Still, there is no guarantee that it will be permanent since everyone is different. Be sure to consult your surgeon so you know what the benefits and risks are.
Also, if you have LASIK before you’re a presbyope, you’re going to need reading glasses once you hit the age of 40. This isn’t because the LASIK went bad. It’s because your focusing lens has become inflexible. To learn more about that process, listen to episode 4.