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Life after LASIK-What Do I Need to Know?

Reviewed by Leslie Doctor, M.D.

The vast majority of people who have LASIK spend considerable time learning about the LASIK Surgery procedure, the possible risks, complications and side effects, what to expect on their day of surgery and in the immediate near term. But very few LASIK patients consider what life will be like and what things they need to know and prepare for years after LASIK.

LASIK is Permanent

LASIK is generally regarded as providing long term stable vision. Once you have had LASIK it is highly likely that whatever your distance vision is 3-6 months after your surgery, is what it will be for many years going forward. The change in your corneal shape-and thus your prescription for seeing clearly at distance is not going to change. That is, unless your vision was going to change anyway as a result of environmental factors such as changing jobs and suddenly doing an extensive amount of computer work or as a result of developing some other type of eye condition or eye health problem or other health problem.

You Still Need Regular Eye Health and Vision Examinations

Even if you have had very successful LASIK Eye Surgery and no longer wear eyeglasses and contacts for seeing at distance-YOU STILL NEED TO HAVE REGULAR EYE HEALTH AND VISION EXAMS. Once you are no longer dependent on eyeglasses or contacts it is easy to forget about maintaining your eye health as you don’t really think much about seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis. Especially with age, it is important to continue regular eye examinations to screen for Glaucoma at age 40, Cataracts at age 50 and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) at age 60. If you develop some other concurrent general medical problem such as high blood pressure or diabetes is even more important that your eye health be examined on a regular basis-even if you are seeing well.

You Will Develop Near Vision Problems and Presbyopia

Unless you have had monovision LASIK because you already had near vision problems when you first had LASIK, if you live long enough in all probability you will need help with reading and up close vision at some point in your life. Presbyopia is a normal aging process of your eyes whereby you will lose the flexibility of the crystalline lens in your eyes and thus the ability to change focus from far to near and near to far. This is a normal and expected part of aging whether you have LASIK or do not have LASIK. There are some exceptional people who avoid the symptoms of Presbyopia but they are fairly unusual. Be prepared that even if you have had LASIK to correct your distance vision, at some point in time it is normal for you to begin to experience reading and close vision problems. Depending on the age this occurs and the health of your eyes, it is possible to offer many patients near vision correcting lens implants in order to help them minimize the need for glasses as they get older.

You Should Keep a Copy of Your LASIK Surgery Examination and Surgery Records

If we all live long enough it is highly likely that we will develop Cataracts. The likelihood of developing a Cataract increases so that people in their late 50’s and early 60’s may have about a 50% chance of developing a Cataract and for those aged 65-75 years old the likelihood increases to 60% or more. Modern Cataract Surgery and Lens Implants are quite safe and effective in the hands of top Cataract Surgeons. However, you can increase the chances of having excellent vision after cataract Surgery by making the cataract Surgeon you choose aware that you previously had LASIK and by providing him or her the actual examination and surgery records from your LASIK so that they can understand more about the shape of your cornea and prescription before your Laser Vision Correction procedure. These old measurements can be very helpful to your eye surgeon in determining the intraocular lens implant (IOL) power to be used to correct your vision after Cataract Surgery.

Use UV Blocking Sunglasses and Sunwear

One of the great things about LASIK is that you will no longer need to have prescription sunglasses and thus you will be able to walk into any store and buy “off the shelf” sunglasses. It is important to remember to always wear UV blocking sunglasses. Excessive exposure to UV from the sun can predispose you to early Cataracts and even Macular Degeneration. It is easy to forget about UV protection and just by “off the shelf’ sunglasses that might not offer you the UV blocking properties that you need. Always check and be sure. If you are uncertain it is best to purchase high quality sunwear from a reputable Optician or eye doctor who can verify the UV protection offered by the sunglasses you select.

©2011 The Medical Management Services Group

updated 5/23/11