How permanent is laser eye surgery?

One of the most common questions asked about laser eye surgery is how permanent the treatment is. However, the answer to this is somewhat complicated. Vision is subject to change and fluctuations over your lifetime – just like every other part of your body.
So, whilst the laser eye surgery procedure does affect a permanent change, natural physical and physiological conditions can also have an impact.
To really answer the question of permanency, it’s necessary to understand a little more about exactly how the procedure works.

How does laser eye surgery work?

Laser eye surgery involves reshaping the cornea to correct refractive errors including near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism. This remodelling is achieved by removing some of the tissue from the cornea.
Once this tissue is removed it cannot grow back, so in this respect it is a permanent alteration. However, as mentioned above, everyone’s optical conditions change over the course of their lives, so the results can vary with time.

The effects of laser eye surgery

In the immediate period after your surgery with Optegra you may experience some blurring, so you will need to make arrangements to get home safely. Your old glasses or contact lenses will no longer be of use, as your cornea will have been permanently altered.
It may take a few days for this blurriness to subside but it will begin to improve and continue doing so for several weeks. Between three to six months after surgery your eyesight will reach its optimum level.
In most cases, you will have 20/20 vision but some patients will still require glasses for some tasks. The general outlook is for your vision to remain improved for many years, with tests showing most patients still benefitted from at least 20/25 vision after 10 years. But you have to remember that the eye is a complex organ that is constantly changing.

How does age affect laser eye surgery?

The eye evolves over the course of its lifetime. Optical errors, which cause vision issues, are very often age related. As you grow from infancy the eye changes, with a period of stabilisation in the early to mid 20s in most cases.
Then as you approach middle age, usually in your mid 40s, vision tends to worsen. This condition, called presbyopia, is a natural part of ageing but affects some people more than others. This has nothing to do with the shape of the cornea (which is the area of the eye corrected during surgery) but a weakening of the muscles surrounding the lens.
Depending at which point in your life you have had the laser eye correction procedure, you should be aware that your vision will still be subject to the natural ageing process.

Are further procedures required?

As a result of the ageing process, there is a myth that laser eye surgery is not permanent. As mentioned above, the changes made to the cornea itself are permanent. However, the natural effects of ageing mean patients are not guaranteed 100% vision forever.
In addition, a small percentage of the patients who undergo treatment could see their eyesight regress, and may benefit from a secondary treatment. This is due to the natural healing process that happens after surgery.
People all recover at different rates and a small percentage of patients (around 2-3%) will either under or over heal. At Optegra, we provide comprehensive aftercare, during which your ophthalmic surgeon will monitor your recovery and let you know if further attention is required. Any additional treatment is usually carried out between three to six months after the initial surgery.
However, in the majority of cases, there is no need for any further treatment once the laser surgery is complete.

Other options

In order to counteract the ageing process that makes it difficult to transition from distance to near focus as you age, it may be possible to target one eye to be a little short-sighted. The effect this produces is called ‘blended vision’ and may help to reduce the impact of ageing on the laser surgery. However, some patients prefer to have both eyes as clear as possible for long distance vision, wearing reading glasses for closer images.
Other patients will require or choose to wear glasses as they get older for tasks such as driving at night.

Understanding the ageing process

It’s very important to understand that while laser eye surgery does permanently alter your eyesight, it is always subject to the laws of nature and time. Many patients who have suffered from optical errors are amazed at the almost immediate effects of laser surgery, only then to be disappointed when their eyesight worsens over time. Mistakenly this is often attributed to a faulty procedure.
In time, spectacles or further visual aids may be required but this is true of many people who have had near perfect eyesight throughout their lives. Laser eye surgery can bring your eyesight into line with the normal range, but it is not a miracle cure that guarantees 20/20 vision for life.
The good news is that most patients are more than happy with the results of their treatment. Only a tiny percentage of people require any further or advanced treatment after the initial procedure, and for the vast majority of patients, the surgery is 100% effective. Take a look at our laser eye surgery reviews to learn more about the great results our customers have had from their treatments.

If you think laser eye surgery could be right for you, why not book a free consultation with one of our ophthalmic surgeons, or come along to one of our open evenings to find out more?

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