The first LASIK corrective procedure took place in 1992, though the treatment can trace its roots back much farther: to the development of keratomileusis in the 1960s, and the evolution of photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) in the 1970s. Combined, these technologies paved the way for the modern Advanced Custom Wavefront LASIK and All-Laser LASIK procedures. With over twenty years of data from which to draw, it is no wonder patients are now asking about the long-term results of LASIK. What will the quality of your vision be in ten years? Twenty? Forty?
Patient Reports and the FDA
Data collected by LASIK MD indicates that 98 percent of patients achieve at least 20/40 vision (the level required to drive a car without glasses), and many report 20/20 vision or better. LASIK procedures come with a 20/20 vision guarantee that provides corrective enhancement treatments at no cost. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) indicate that the same high percentage of patients are happy with the outcome of their treatment both immediately after and over the long term. In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration has developed the LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project (LQOLCP) in partnership with the Department of Defense and the National Eye Institute to improve the long-term monitoring of patient health after laser vision correction.
What the Data Shows
A recent study of PRK patients found “refractive stability for 16 years postoperatively with a very low level of serious long-term sequelae and high levels of patient satisfaction.” The long-term results of LASIK are similar. Improvements in excimer laser technology have also improved short- and long-term outcomes for patients with night vision problems, such as ghosting, halos, and glare. A great number of patients report improved night vision after their procedure, and non-profit public health surveys indicate that 91 percent of patients had night vision as expected, better, or much better than expected.
Your Long-Term Vision
LASIK laser vision correction improves your sight by making slight adjustments to the shape of your cornea. After a short healing period, these adjustments essentially become permanent, which in turn gives your improved sight significant longevity. Complications with the treatment are rare, minor, and typically occur within weeks of the procedure, allowing for speedy retreatment. Overall, the vast majority of patients enjoy corrected sight almost immediately, return to work (and play) within a couple days, and enjoy years of liberation from broken eyeglasses and lost contact lenses.
The long-term results of LASIK are continually being evaluated by LASIK MD, the FDA, and non-profit health organizations. Judging from the data, you can expect both longevity and stability of vision improvement.