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What Is LASIK Surgery?
LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. LASIK surgery is an eye surgery that permanently corrects your vision by reshaping the corneal tissue. The cornea is the part of your eye that helps to bend and focus light to create an image. However, sometimes the shape of the cornea is not perfect, which causes refractive errors that blur or distort the images you see.
Surgical procedures like LASIK surgery reshape the corneal tissue with an excimer laser to improve the eye’s focusing power. LASIK can help treat three primary refractive errors:
- Myopia — Myopia is also known as nearsightedness. People with myopia have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly.
- Hyperopia — Hyperopia is also known as farsightedness. People with hyperopia have difficulty seeing objects close up clearly.
- Astigmatism — Astigmatism refers to irregularities in the shape of the cornea or the lens of the eye that causes image distortion on the retina.
While the corrective lenses in reading glasses and contact lenses are simple methods of vision correction, laser eye surgery is a long-term, permanent solution.
How Does LASIK Work?
In LASIK surgery, the LASIK surgeon will use a mechanical microkeratome (a blade) or a femtosecond laser to cut a flap in your cornea. They’ll leave a hinge at one end of the flap and fold it back to reveal the stroma (the middle section of the cornea). They’ll then use pulses from a computer-controlled laser to vaporize a portion of the stroma and replace the corneal flap.
While this may sound painful, the LASIK procedure only takes about 10 minutes per eye — and the laser itself only takes about 20 to 50 seconds to correct your vision, depending on how much correction you need.
How Many Years Does LASIK Surgery Last?
The effects of LASIK surgery last a lifetime. Because the surgeon actually reshapes the cornea, physically removing the imperfections that cause myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism, it’s a permanent solution.
However, your refractive errors can progress or you may develop other vision changes down the line. Because your eyes can change over your lifetime, you may experience new refractive errors after LASIK surgery, but this is not a result of regression following the surgery. LASIK only treats existing conditions.
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Can You Get LASIK Twice?
Yes, you can get LASIK surgery twice. Because your eyes change as part of the aging process, you may experience the progression of refractive errors or develop new refractive errors that require treatment.
Approximately 10 percent of the patients who had LASIK a decade ago may need a follow-up LASIK treatment to maintain clear vision. Some opt for another type of refractive surgery or enhancement procedure.
Risks of Undergoing LASIK Eye Surgery Multiple Times
LASIK is generally considered a quick and safe surgery to treat vision problems with a high success rate. A reported 99 percent of LASIK patients achieve better than 20/40 vision, while more than 90 percent achieve 20/20 vision or better following laser vision correction.
With LASIK surgery, as with all surgeries, there are some side effects and risks involved — and the more you have the surgery, the more often you face these risks. Here are some of the risks associated with LASIK surgery:
- You may experience dry eyes for up to three months. (Eye drops can help).
- You may have nighttime glare or see halos in the dark.
- The flaps that are created during LASIK surgery aren’t secured, so you could dislodge them while they heal if you rub your eyes or get poked in the eye.
Speak to your eye doctor or another eye care specialist about getting a LASIK consultation. An expert can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for LASIK enhancement.