Medically Reviewed By Dr. Anthony Nappi / Published Sept. 27, 2022 / 4 min. read
LASIK has proven to be a safe, effective, and popular treatment for vision problems, but how long does LASIK last? If you’re researching LASIK enhancements, commonly referred to as LASIK touch-ups, you probably already know that another LASIK treatment is sometimes necessary.
This article aims to clarify the reasons for a LASIK touch-up, why some LASIK patients in Arizona get LASIK enhancements, what to expect during and after a follow-up LASIK procedure LASIK, how much they cost, and where you can get LASIK enhancement surgery in the Valley.
What is a LASIK Enhancement?
LASIK enhancement surgery refers to a LASIK retreatment that takes place sometime after your initial LASIK treatment. Its purpose is to further improve your vision or correct new changes to your eyes. Like initial LASIK, an enhancement can treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
Depending on your LASIK surgeon, you can have a repeat LASIK surgery or a similar PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgery. Either enhancement can keep your glasses and contacts in their cases in the coming years.
Who Needs LASIK Enhancement Surgery?
The National Library of Medicine 2021 research reveals that 90-95% of patients achieve 20/20 vision and 99.5% achieve 20/40 vision after their first LASIK procedure. A LASIK touch-up can help if you’re one of the few patients whose vision didn’t noticeably improve.
About 10% of patients may need a LASIK enhancement after 10 years. About 20% find they need a LASIK enhancement after 20 years.
Many satisfied LASIK patients eventually want an enhancement, too. LASIK offers permanent correction, but your eyes continually change over time. Lifestyle, career, injuries, or just aging can all affect your vision over time. For example, living in a desert climate like Arizona’s makes your eyes susceptible to sun damage and dryness. Due to factors like this, about 10% of patients may need an enhancement after 10 years. About 20% find they need a LASIK enhancement after 20 years. However, this is outside the “enhancement” window. Another procedure becomes necessary after so many years.
What causes laser refractive surgery to stop working after any number of years? Just like every other part of your body changes over time, so do your eyes. Meaning your vision changes, too. Therefore you may need another refractive surgery when your vision’s prescription changes. You may notice this is happening when you need to wear glasses to help you read when you didn’t need the after your initial surgery.
What to Expect During a LASIK Enhancement
LASIK enhancement surgery is very similar to your initial LASIK procedure. Your total time in the office should last less than two hours. The actual surgery time will probably be under 30 minutes.
If you have a LASIK enhancement after fully recovering from your initial surgery, your experience will be nearly identical. Your doctor will start by applying numbing drops to your eye. Next, they will place a speculum over the eye to prevent blinking. The doctor will use a laser to make a small flap on the surface of your eye. This allows them to access and reshape the cornea with a laser.
If you have a touch-up LASIK enhancement soon after your initial surgery, your doctor may be able to reuse the existing flap to access your cornea. The rest of the procedure will look the same.
Your procedure will differ slightly if your doctor recommends PRK surgery instead of a repeat LASIK. In place of creating a flap, your doctor will remove a very small piece of the outer layer of your cornea. As with LASIK, they will then use a laser to reshape the cornea.
What Is Recovery Like?
Your recovery from LASIK enhancement shouldn’t feel any different than your recovery from your initial surgery. Plan to have someone take you home afterward, and you may want to take one or two days off work.
After the procedure, your eyes may feel irritated or watery. Your vision may also look blurry, but this should improve within a day or two. It can take several weeks before you notice a significant improvement compared to your pre-surgery vision.
Your post-operative symptoms could be slightly worse if you have a PRK procedure. Your doctor will likely place clear contacts on your eyes to protect them during healing. Expect a slightly longer recovery time from PRK laser eye surgery.
Efficacy of LASIK Enhancements
LASIK enhancements have a very high satisfaction rate, but they don’t guarantee perfect vision 100% of the time. Generally, enhancement procedures will rectify your refractive errors if your original procedure failed to produce significant results. A maintenance enhancement can build on a successful first treatment to extend your improved vision for years after LASIK.
Dangers of a LASIK Enhancement
LASIK eye surgeons use femtosecond lasers to reshape the cornea to the specific pattern needed for the patient. With an enhancement, the cornea is subjected to the same treatment. However, since the cornea has already been remodeled, there is less corneal tissue to work with each time surgery is performed. When an unsatisfactory LASIK enhancement is performed, complications may include visual disturbances such as halos, temporary discomfort, irregular astigmatism, diffuse lamellar keratitis, and keratectasia.
Eventually, LASIK enhancements are no longer an option for patients.
Cost of a LASIK Enhancement
It is not uncommon to have refractive errors after your original refractive surgery. That’s why LASIK surgeons should include a free enhancement within the first year of your original laser eye surgery procedure. Your eye doctor will look for refractive errors in your post-operative appointment.
Years after your original LASIK surgery, your improved vision will cost extra. Expect to pay a similar fee as the one for your initial surgery.
Ask An Ophthalmologist about LASIK Enhancement Surgery in Arizona
At BDP Lasik, our experienced LASIK surgeons and optometrists specialize in laser eye surgery. We have performed tens of thousands of vision correction procedures, making them your top choice for LASIK enhancement surgery in Arizona.
Our excellent care has earned us national and regional recognition from the likes of America’s Top Ophthalmologists and Phoenix Magazine.
LASIK and Laser Eye Surgeons Near You
With four laser vision correction centers located in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson, we proudly serve all of the Metro Phoenix area and Arizona.