What Makes LASIK Permanent?

LASIK is a life-changing procedure that can provide you with the visual freedom you crave from contacts and glasses. One of the reasons LASIK is so life-changing is the fact that it’s permanent. 

LASIK doesn’t “wear off” because it permanently alters the shape of your cornea and corrects refractive errors. If you have LASIK, it means there’s an excellent chance you’ll finally attain the clear vision you’ve always wanted. 

What’s more, you’ll be able to keep this new and improved vision for many years to come. The reason for this is both due to how your vision works and how LASIK is performed. Keep reading to learn more about what makes LASIK permanent!

How Your Vision Works

diagram of the anatomy of an eye

As you may recall from high school physics, light is essential when you need to see the world around you. Your eye, specifically the cornea, refracts the light that passes through it. 

That light hits your retina, and your retina sends information through your optic nerve to the brain, which reads that information as images. When you have a refractive error like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, it’s due to having a misshapen cornea. 

Having a misshapen cornea distorts the light refracted through it, making objects appear blurry depending on how close or far away they are. This is either due to the cornea being curved too much inward or outward. In astigmatism, the cornea’s shape is more like a football than a basketball, which is rounder. 

You correct a refractive error with a lens by compensating for the distortion before the light hits your eye. Your prescription determines the shape and curvature of the lens you need to fix the way light refracts through your eye. 

While effective, the lenses used in glasses and contacts aren’t the only way to change the way light refracts through your eye. You can also change the shape of the cornea itself by permanently reshaping it.

How LASIK Works

lasik eye surgery diagram

LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. LASIK is the most popular refractive procedure and with good reason. 

LASIK works because it reshapes the cornea using two lasers: an excimer laser and a femtosecond laser. The excimer laser is what’s known as a cold laser. 

The Excimer Laser

The excimer laser doesn’t burn through tissue. Instead, it breaks up tissue in the cornea by using a very high-frequency light. The light disrupts the bonds of the chemical components of the cornea without causing any damage that would lead to scarring. 

This is key because it means the tissue that’s removed with an excimer laser doesn’t grow back. Once the excimer laser removes the tissue needed to change the shape of the cornea, the cornea retains that shape. The cornea maintaining its new form after removing precise amounts of corneal tissue is what makes LASIK permanent.

The healing your eye does after you have LASIK is not regrowing corneal tissue. Instead, a flap is created during the LASIK procedure so the excimer laser can work underneath it. 

The Femtosecond Laser

This flap is one of the reasons for LASIK’s success. While the excimer laser removes a precise amount of corneal tissue, the femtosecond laser creates the flap during LASIK. 

After being created, the flap is replaced. There are no stitches or bandages necessary for this. During the healing process, the flap will re-fuse with the rest of the eye. 

man standing by the water

But the new shape of the cornea in the eye itself doesn’t change.  Many patients notice immediate improvements to their vision right after LASIK, with their sight getting better in the months after having LASIK. In fact, your vision continues to improve after LASIK until the corneal flap is fully healed as your eyes adjust to the new shape.

Long-Term Results After Having LASIK

LASIK is permanent, but your eyesight may still change after undergoing the laser vision correction procedure. This isn’t due to your LASIK procedure “wearing off,” but because your vision tends to get worse as you get older. 

However, actual changes to your prescription after getting LASIK tend to be minimal. Part of the reason for that is that you must have a stable prescription to be a LASIK candidate. If you have a stable, unchanged prescription that’s remained unchanged for at least a year before LASIK, it minimizes the chance that your vision will change after the procedure. 

What needs to be understood before having LASIK is that it does not treat future eye conditions. That means that even if you get LASIK, you are still likely to develop age-related eye conditions. 

These include cataracts, presbyopia, glaucoma, or age-related macular degeneration. Age-related eye conditions are not refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. 

man wearing glasses

These are simply part of the aging process, and getting older, making it more difficult to see. If you have cataracts, you can have them corrected during cataract surgery and restore the clear vision you enjoyed with LASIK if you choose a premium lens. 

While you can experience some changes to your eyesight after LASIK, the results are long-lasting. Barring the effects of aging, you’ll retain the visual freedom that LASIK can give you. 

As with most elective surgical procedures, there are no guarantees. That’s why it’s so important to understand what LASIK can achieve and to have realistic expectations before undergoing the procedure. For some people, a LASIK enhancement may be an option if they have experienced visual changes. 

If you’re looking for a permanent way to say goodbye to glasses and contact lenses, LASIK may be the answer. The first step is to schedule a LASIK consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA!

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