Author: Dr Val Phua MBBS, MMed (Ophth), FRCOphth, FAMS
Photo by: Larm Rmah
LASIK is the most well known procedure for laser vision correction. Surgery itself is quick, requiring only 10-15 minutes per eye and recovery is with minimal discomfort. It is able to treat common refractive errors including myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism, but how long do these effects last? Is it reasonable to expect the results to last a lifetime?
While LASIK corrects existing refractive errors with great precision and predictability, it does not prevent the natural changes that occur with age. Just as patients who do not undergo LASIK may require a check with their optometrist and a change in glasses once in a while, there may be some patients who do require additional “touch ups” or enhancements after some time. Some LASIK providers do offer a complimentary enhancement within a specified period of time while others charge for it. When doing your homework on choosing a LASIK provider, clarify whether additional charges apply should enhancements be needed. A careful screening of patients by the eye surgeon may reduce the need for enhancements.
Presbyopia or “Lao Hua Yen (老花眼)” begins affecting adults at about 40 years of age with many noticing increased difficulty focusing for near work. Many will then need reading glasses in order to see better for near tasks even though LASIK was done to correct other refractive errors in the eye. In recent years, monovision is a concept that is gaining popularity with one eye corrected to see far and the other eye corrected for near work. While there is a short period of adjusting to the monovision, most people are satisfied with the result and enjoy the freedom of being glasses free.
Whilst LASIK reduces dependence on glasses and contact lens to help the eye see better, it does not prevent the onset of other eye diseases including cataract and age-related macular degeneration. It is still important to check in with your eye doctor to assess your overall eye health even if you undergo LASIK.