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How Long Does LASIK Last? Is LASIK permanent?

If you’re considering LASIK to reduce your dependence on glasses or contact lenses, one of the biggest questions on your mind is likely “How long does LASIK last?” LASIK, or laser assisted in situ keratomileusis, is a popular refractive surgery that reshapes the cornea to correct vision problems like nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. But is it a permanent solution?

Long-Lasting Results

Prospective patients often ask me, “after successful LASIK, how long will the results last?” The answer for most people is years or even decades. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. Approximately 5 percent of patients develop small changes in their eyes that require a second procedure. This can happen three months after the initial procedure or 20 years later.

Presbyopia in Middle-Aged Patients

Another issue to consider is presbyopia, a progressively-diminished ability to focus on nearby objects. This is why many people start wearing reading glasses or bifocals as they reach middle age. Patients who have LASIK before they become presbyopic will need reading glasses to see up-close. An alternative to reading glasses is a laser vision correction procedure called monovision.

Cataracts in Elderly Patients

Elderly patients often get cataracts, cloudiness to the lens inside the eye, that lead to a decrease in vision. Usually, this occurs when patients reach their 70s or 80s, but it can happen at any time. Successful cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens; replaces it with a new, flexible, artificial lens; and restores pre-cataract visual acuity. LASIK changes the shape of the cornea to focus light crisply on the retina. While results vary from patient to patient, the procedure allows many to enjoy years of clearer vision.