Medically Reviewed By Dr. Anthony Nappi / Published Sept. 21, 2022 / 8 min. read
If you’re considering LASIK, you might wonder what to expect. How long is the surgery? How long does LASIK last? Are touch-ups necessary? Here’s what to know.
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is an eye surgery to correct refractive errors in your vision. Refractive errors happen when your eye can’t bend light properly because of the shape of your cornea. These errors cause blurry vision, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
During a LASIK procedure, your surgeon opens up a flap on the surface of your cornea with a laser. They use a second laser to reshape your cornea and then place the flap back over the cornea to heal.
How Long Is LASIK Surgery?
LASIK eye surgery is an outpatient procedure and takes less than 30 minutes to complete both eyes. You’ll lay back in a reclining chair and your doctor will give you medicine to relax as well as some numbing eye drops. They’ll place a small tool to hold your eyelids open and they’ll begin the procedure.
Is LASIK Permanent?
LASIK surgery is permanent vision correction. However, it’s important to note that the surgery treats your cornea, not your lens. As you age, your lens might change, which can affect your vision. For example, you may lose your close-up reading vision, or the lens can stiffen and become cloudy, known as cataracts. If you develop cataracts, you may need additional surgery.
LASIK surgery treats common vision problems by reshaping your eye so you have a better ability to focus. There’s a good chance you won’t need glasses or contacts after the procedure.
Before and After LASIK Eye Surgery
You’ll notice changes in your vision before and after the surgery. Immediately after the procedure, your eyes will burn, itch, or feel gritty, and you might have some mild pain. You’ll also have watery eyes, blurry or hazy vision, light sensitivity, and halos. However, these symptoms should get better within a few days.
Do You Need Touch-Up Surgery?
Most people notice overall improvement within a month of surgery, but it can take three to six months for your vision to fully stabilize. If your vision doesn’t improve after six months, your doctor might recommend touch-up surgery, called enhancement.
About 1% to 2% of patients have LASIK enhancement in the first 12 months. In the following years, about 1% of patients per year have touch-ups. This means about 10% of patients may need repeat LASIK surgery after 10 years, 20% need LASIK touch-ups after 20 years, and so on.
Enhancements after a decade aren’t always necessary, though, and many people don’t need them. Most LASIK clinics include touch-ups in the price of surgery.
How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Last?
If you might need touch-up surgery, does LASIK last forever? The answer is that it is a permanent correction. You may need an enhancement to improve your vision even more, but unless you develop cataracts, you generally won’t return to poor vision. Your eye is permanently reshaped, which corrects the way your eye refracts light.
A study examined patients five years after LASIK surgery and found that 90% of patients still had 20/20 vision or better in both eyes. It also found that 94% of patients didn’t need prescription glasses. That being said, very high prescriptions, like coke-bottle glasses, may cause issues after some time. However, this is unusual.
LASIK vs PRK
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is another type of laser eye surgery where your surgeon removes the thin outer layer of skin over your cornea. They reshape your cornea with a laser and then place a temporary lens overtop. The lens acts as a bandage until your skin layer grows back.
Both LASIK and PRK are effective procedures, though LASIK has a shorter recovery. It’s possible to dislodge the flap created during LASIK, so your surgeon might recommend PRK if you are very active. PRK might also be a better option if you have dry eyes or thin corneas.
How Long Does PRK Last?
PRK surgery is also permanent vision correction. Like LASIK, your vision may fluctuate for several months after the procedure, but 80% of patients see improvements by one month and 95% by three months.
LASIK Vision Correction With BDP LASIK
LASIK is a quick procedure with a short recovery period that leads to lasting vision correction — though you may still need glasses. Not everyone is a candidate for laser eye surgery, but surgeons, like our experts at BDP LASIK, can help you figure that out. They can also help you understand the risks and benefits of LASIK specifically for your vision. Schedule a free consultation today.