Can You Have Laser Eye Surgery Twice?

13 May 2021

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Medically reviewed on 17-August-2023

Despite what some of the rumours and myths on the internet might say, laser eye surgery is permanent. Your ophthalmic surgeon uses a high-precision laser to make a permanent alteration to your corneas, a process that cannot be reversed.

However, due to the eye’s natural ageing process, the effects of this permanent procedure may change and even reduce over time. This begs the question: Is it possible to have laser eye surgery more than once?

In short, the answer is yes, but it’s not quite that simple. Each case is unique, and when dealing with something as crucial as eyesight, maximum care must be taken to ensure that patients are suitable for treatment. Read on below to find out more.


Is A Second Laser Eye Surgery Possible?

Patients who underwent laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, more than 5-10 years ago may consider a second surgery under certain circumstances. The need for additional surgery primarily depends on individual factors and the outcomes of the first surgery. Here are some reasons why someone might have a second laser eye surgery:

Regression of Visual Acuity: Over time, some patients might experience a deterioration in their visual acuity. This can happen due to natural changes in the eye as part of the ageing process.

Presbyopia or Age-Related Changes: As people age, they might develop presbyopia, which affects near vision.

Changes in Refractive Error: Some patients might experience changes in their refractive error due to various reasons, such as hormonal changes, diabetes, or other health conditions.

Enhancement Procedures: Sometimes, a second surgery, known as an enhancement, is needed to fine-tune or improve the results of the initial procedure.

Complications or Incomplete Results from First Surgery: If complications or the desired visual outcome were not achieved in the first surgery, a second procedure might be considered.

It is generally considered safe to undergo a second laser eye surgery. However, this also depends on individual circumstances, including the health of the eye, the amount of corneal tissue remaining, and the specific reason for the additional surgery. The patient needs to undergo a thorough evaluation by an eye care professional to assess the risks and benefits in their particular case.

Effectiveness of Laser Eye Surgery

The success rates for laser eye surgery are very high, but in about 2–3% of cases, a second procedure may be required soon after the first. A range of factors, including the patient’s eyesight, age, and genetics, can mean the eyes are under or overhealing.

This can lead to blurred vision, glare, and some distortion. Usually, these kinds of symptoms disappear in the few weeks after surgery, but persistent blurring may be a sign that the first surgery has not been 100% effective. Here at Optegra, our world-class surgeons have a much lower repeat procedure rate than other clinics, but specific conditions do mean it is sometimes necessary.

If a follow-up treatment is required, your surgeon will assess your corneal tissue and further correct it to improve your eyesight. In the vast majority of cases, the outcome is very successful. Remember that following the correct aftercare advice is essential to ensure that laser eye surgery results are optimal and to mitigate unwanted risks.


The Natural Ageing Process

The natural ageing process of the eye means that your natural lens in your eye loses flexibility, making it difficult to see near objects or read.

If you increasingly have to rely on your glasses for reading or driving some years after surgery, it may be possible to undergo further corrective treatment.

As our eyes age, we may develop cataracts, meaning we may require cataract surgery at some point in the future.


Likelihood Of Second Treatment

Whether it’s under or over healing or due to regression of your eyesight, the chance of needing a secondary treatment at any point is slim. Fewer than 5% of patients require any follow-up or additional procedures in their lifetime, with an overwhelming majority reporting vastly improved eyesight years after surgery.

To learn more about how the laser eye surgery procedure works and whether or not your eyes are suitable for treatment, book your free consultation with one of our highly skilled surgeons.

We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about repeat surgery. Your surgeon can also carry out a full examination to ensure that your corneas are suitable for treatment.


How Would The Second Procedure Work?

When considering a second laser eye surgery, such as a follow-up LASIK, LASEK, or SMILE procedure, there are notable differences and considerations compared to the first surgery:

LASIK: In a second LASIK procedure, the surgeon may lift the original flap created during the first surgery or may need to create a new one. The decision depends on factors like the time elapsed since the first surgery and corneal thickness. The surgeon may recommend retreatment with LASEK instead.

LASEK: The approach is somewhat similar to the first surgery for a second LASEK procedure since it doesn’t involve creating a corneal flap. However, the surgeon must consider the altered corneal thickness and structural integrity from the first procedure. Re-treatment may require more delicate handling of the corneal surface to ensure proper healing and outcome.

In all cases, the key considerations include the patient’s current corneal thickness, eye health, and the extent of refractive error correction needed.


What Next? Contact us to discuss your laser eye surgery requirements.

If you want to know how laser eye surgery can benefit you, set up your free virtual consultation with one of our experts, and we can guide you further.

Alex Shortt Headshot

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Mr Shortt is a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.

Medically Reviewed Date: 7th February 2024


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