how long does eye laser surgery last melbourne

How Long Does Eye Laser Surgery Last? All You Need To Know

Finally, deciding that you want to go ahead with laser eye surgery can be an exciting moment. Realising that you’re no longer going to be reaching for your glasses as soon as you step out of bed every morning or have to clean your contact lenses every night can be a great feeling. However, that euphoria can come to an abrupt halt as soon as you come across the term “regression”. Putting your eyes through laser eye surgery is no small commitment, so it is more than reasonable to ask your eye surgeon how long does laser eye surgery last? Keep reading to find out what you can expect.

How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work? 

Laser eye surgery is a category of refractive surgery which aims to correct the prescription of your eyes. There are several different techniques of laser eye surgery, including:

  • LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis)
  • PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)
  • LASEK (laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy)
  • SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction)

In addition to these methods, there are further variations of similar techniques. However, all laser vision correction procedures share the same feature in that they require the use of an excimer laser

The excimer laser is a highly precise tool that is used to vaporise selected areas of tissue from the cornea. The cornea is the front surface of the eye and is partly responsible for your prescription. By vaporising and removing specific parts of the cornea, your eye surgeon can change its shape and curvature. This alters the way that light focuses through the eye. The aim of laser eye surgery is to focus light to a sharp point on your sensory retina, which is what allows you to see clearly.

How Long Does Eye Laser Surgery Last?

All laser eye surgery procedures are intended to be permanent in the way that the reshaping of the cornea cannot be reversed. However, through various factors, you may find your sight beginning to blur again with time after having undergone successful laser eye surgery

Regression 

One factor is a phenomenon known as regression. Regression refers to the tendency of an eye to slowly return to its original prescription after initially having had successful and uncomplicated refractive surgery. It’s not possible for your eye surgeon to give a definitive answer to how long does eye laser surgery last as the reasons for regression are not fully understood. You may find your sight remains sharp for 10 to 20 years, while others may find their sight beginning to blur even within a year or two after their initial operation. 

Many studies have investigated the causes and factors associated with regression, but not all research has come to the same conclusions. Higher prescriptions and subsequently higher degrees of laser correction are associated with a greater risk of regression. Other factors have been studied in their role in post-laser eye surgery regression, including:

  • Pre-operative corneal thickness
  • The remaining corneal thickness after surgery
  • Gender
  • Age at the time of surgery

Long-sightedness (hyperopia)and even the temperature of the operating theatre have also been shown to increase the likelihood of regression. 

The laser surgery technique used may also influence the risk of regression. One study followed over 60,000 people undergoing LASIK, SMILE, or PRK for short-sightedness (myopia). The study found that after 10 years:

  • 1.3% of SMILE patients had regressed 
  • 3.0% of PRK patients had regressed
  • 3.8% of LASIK patients had regressed

longevity eye laser treatment melbourneAge

Another factor that shortens the answer to how long does eye laser surgery last is the natural changes that happen to your eye with age. One such change is the development of presbyopia, which is the normal and natural age-related deterioration of your near focusing ability. 

Laser vision correction is typically performed with the aim of improving your long-distance vision. However, around the age of 45, your near focus begins to need some help. While you may continue to enjoy sharp far vision past this age, you will eventually require glasses or contact lenses for reading. 

With age also often comes the development of cataracts. Similar to presbyopia, cataracts are an expected part of ageing. Certain types of age-related cataracts are known to cause shifts in your prescription. As a cataract grows, you may find yourself becoming more long-sighted or more short-sighted, resulting in increasingly blurry sight. Your astigmatism may also change

Your eye surgeon should advise you on whether laser vision correction is worthwhile at your age. If you’re anticipated to develop presbyopia in the near future, or if you already have cataracts present, your eye surgeon may direct you to a different technique. Other refractive surgery options such as refractive lens exchange may be more suitable for older stages of life. 

Retreatment After Regression 

Fortunately, in many cases, it is possible to have a touch-up procedure to address any regression after your initial laser procedure. This is dependent on the degree of correction needed and how much corneal thickness you have remaining after your first round of corneal vaporisation. 

Not all people choose to seek a retreatment after their prescription regresses. Some may be happy to return to glasses or contact lenses after a satisfactory period of spectacle-free life. Your prescription may not return to the same degree it was prior to your operation either, so you could find you only really need glasses or contacts for specific activities like night driving. 

Contact your eye surgeon for a comprehensive eye exam and assessment of your suitability for laser eye surgery. At this point, he or she will be able to advise you of any specific risk factors that may impact your period of perfect sight after surgery.

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

References

Factors predicting the need for retreatment after laser refractive surgery.
https://journals.lww.com/corneajrnl/Abstract/2016/05000/Factors_Predicting_the_Need_for_Retreatment_After.5.aspx

SMILE offers low enhancement rate after nomogram adjustment.
https://www.ophthalmologytimes.com/view/smile-offers-low-enhancement-rate-after-nomogram-adjustment

How long does LASIK last?
https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/how-long-does-lasik-last

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