Many potential LASIK patients ask me if they will need more than one procedure to correct their vision. They are under the impression that LASIK doesn’t last, and they will need to have the process repeated at some point in the future. I am not sure where this idea originated, but in the majority of cases, it is just not true.
The first step for any patient considering LASIK is a comprehensive eye exam and consultation with the doctor who would perform the procedure. The doctor examines every aspect of the patient’s eye health and carefully measures and scans the patient’s corneas. This initial appointment could take up to 90 minutes.
Why do patients undergo such a thorough exam? First, it helps determine whether the patient is a good candidate for LASIK. If she is a candidate and opts to have the procedure, the measurements and scans guide the doctor, who uses a laser to permanently remove tissue and precisely reshape the corneas. The matter that is removed from the cornea does not grow back.
In a recent study, 97 percent of responding LASIK patients said they would recommend the procedure to a friend or relative. During my 14 years of practice as a LASIK doctor, less than 2 percent of my patients have needed a second procedure. These were usually patients who had a high degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness before their LASIK. In fact, I underwent LASIK myself in 1999, and I haven’t needed a follow-up procedure.
In the rare case that a patient requires a second LASIK procedure, it is mostly likely due to natural changes to his vision. His eyes would have changed even if LASIK had not been done. For most of these cases, a retreatment — or enhancement — can address any changes that have occurred. Some LASIK providers offer packages that cover these enhancement procedures. Talk to your LASIK provider and see if this would be a good option for you.
As with all medical procedures, there are some side effects and risks associated with LASIK. The best way to minimize these is to choose a competent, experienced provider who will get to know you and your eyes and determine the best treatment for your vision correction needs.
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