How long does Laser Eye Surgery last?

There are a couple of aspects to this question. One relates to age-related changes to the eye that change how your vision works, near focus. Presbyopia is the natural decline of near focusing ability that comes with age. Usually manifesting around 45 year olds. Many laser eye surgeries performed before this age will be targeting long-distance prescription. That is, correcting a person’s nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism. To provide them clear vision for distance activities. This still allows clear and comfortable near vision before the onset of presbyopia. Since a young patient’s near focusing ability is still active. To avoid disappointment, you should be informed of the effects of presbyopia. By around your mid-40s, you might start needing glasses again. This time, for reading and other near activities.

Already presbyopic?

If you are presbyopic and looking for refractive surgery options that address both long- and near-distance vision. Presbyond blended LASIK, monovision, or multifocal intraocular lens implants are available. The other aspect to the longevity of laser eye surgery is what’s known as regression. This refers to the re-development of a prescription that compromises the distance vision. Regression after refractive eye operations, including PRK, LASIK, and SMILE® is not yet fully understood. In most cases, the procedure is considered permanent.

A laser tool surgically reshapes the front surface of your eye, the cornea. It alters the way light passes through this structure such that it focuses to a sharp point on your retina. This provides clear vision. Patients are satisfied with their vision for years and even decades after their refractive procedure. Some may find their vision begins to blur with time.

One theory is that the eye is an organic structure and like all living things, it changes with time. There are some patients whose eyes are not yet stabilised and so their prescriptions still progress with time. Undergoing laser eye surgery is not a treatment to halt progression. Another theory supported by research is that the healing process that takes place in the superficial epithelial layers of the cornea and the deeper stromal layers after surgery results in an alteration of the biomechanics and biometrics of this anatomical structure. Refractive surgery techniques such as PRK, LASIK, and SMILE® involve the removal of certain sections of the cornea. This process is called photoablation. This reshapes the surface. Although the operation is very safe, it is still considered a type of trauma to the eye. Thus, sparking a healing response. In the years following laser eye surgery, the epithelium and stroma of the cornea change in structure. Thickness and shape may result in a change to the prescription of the eye and subsequent regression of vision.

Factors affecting regression after refractive surgery

  • High hyperopia
  • The surgical technique used
  • Female gender
  • Younger age at the time of treatment

Many ophthalmologists will offer a touch-up laser treatment. Mainly for patients whose prescriptions regress to an unsatisfactory level. This is enhancement. For modern LASIK procedures, this rate of enhancement within a year of initial treatment is somewhere around 1-2%. Patients may experience some slight change to their vision with time post-operatively. Most are never be bothered enough to seek an enhancement procedure. Either remaining content with their existing vision. Or satisfied to wear glasses for occasional activities. Such as long-distance driving at night-time.

If you have any questions about laser eye surgery treatment, please contact us on 1300 297 583.

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

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About the expert

Dr Anton van Heerden, MBCHB; FRANZCO
Ophthalmologist & Laser Eye Surgeon

Based in Melbourne, but with a reputation that transcends borders, Dr Van Heerden sets the highest bar for laser vision correction surgery in Australia. While his skills and experience are second to none, it is his fun, caring and down to earth nature that truly set’s him apart from the rest. You can sit back and enjoy the journey knowing every detail has been carefully considered.

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