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Is LASIK Eye Surgery Permanent, or Does It Wear Off as I Get Older?

Heidi I. Becker, MDSophie Vergnaud, MD
Written by Heidi I. Becker, MD | Reviewed by Sophie Vergnaud, MD
Published on August 30, 2021

Key takeaways:

  • LASIK is a permanent laser surgery on the surface of the eyes to reduce the need for corrective lenses.

  • LASIK can correct distance vision problems and some astigmatism.

  • Beyond the age of 40, if both eyes have been corrected for distance with LASIK, it’s likely you’ll need reading glasses to see clearly up close.

Computer keyboard with stethoscope and prescription pad

LASIK is a popular and safe laser procedure that reduces or removes the need for corrective lenses that help with distance vision. In most cases, the effects of LASIK are permanent

Once people reach their 40s, most begin to experience presbyopia — otherwise known as difficulty focusing up close. If both eyes have been treated for distance at the time of LASIK, reading glasses are usually needed at or around age 40 to help with close vision. 

What is LASIK?

LASIK is a refractive surgery that involves removing part of the tissue of the cornea to reduce or remove the need for glasses.

How long do the benefits of LASIK last?

LASIK is designed to be permanent, meaning as long as the shape of the eye stays the same, the effect will be lasting. A small number of people experience shifts or changes in their prescriptions after LASIK, and these can often be corrected with a second round of treatment. Unfortunately, LASIK does not prevent other eye conditions like presbyopia or cataracts, so if these happen later in life, they usually require separate treatment.

Will I need glasses after LASIK?

Most people under 40 will not need glasses to see their best at distance after LASIK. But, as presbyopia often develops around the age of 40 and beyond, it is common to start needing reading glasses to see well up close. If both eyes are corrected for distance with LASIK, then reading glasses or a single reading contact lens will be needed if presbyopia sets in. If only the dominant eye was corrected for distance (monovision), then reading glasses may not be needed.

Does LASIK make presbyopia worse? 

LASIK does not make presbyopia worse. But people with nearsightedness (myopia) who do not get LASIK are often able to avoid the need for reading glasses by removing their distance glasses to read.

If my eyesight worsens after LASIK, what can I do?

If you are concerned that your LASIK-corrected vision is worsening, an eye exam will help to determine the cause. If you are developing shifts in your distance prescription, repeat LASIK may be able to help. Reading glasses or a monovision contact can help if presbyopia has started. Cataract surgeryCataract surgery is likely to restore your vision if cataracts have formed.

The bottom line 

LASIK surgery is a safe and effective treatment to get rid of or lessen the need for distance glasses. Most of the time, the improvement is permanent. If the prescription shifts after LASIK, then LASIK can usually be repeated. Still, LASIK will not prevent other conditions like presbyopia and cataracts from affecting your vision. And, after age 40, reading glasses are often helpful for focusing up close. A monovision contact is one alternative to reading glasses.

References

Bamashmus, M. A., et al. (2015). Functional outcome and patient satisfaction after laser in situ keratomileusis for correction of myopia and myopic astigmatism. Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology.

Boyd, K. (2018). What is monovision (or blended vision)? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

View All References (6)

Boyd, K. (2020). LASIK — Laser eye surgery. American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Boyd, K. (2021). What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Boyd, K. (2022). What is presbyopia? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Flaum Eye Institute. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions.

Ikeda, T., et al. (2017). Twelve-year follow-up of laser in situ keratomileusis for moderate to high myopia. BioMed Research International.

Refractive Surgery Council. (2022). Permanent or temporary: How long does LASIK last?

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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