If you've ever been saddled with eyeglasses so thick that the lenses look like Coke bottles glasses, you've probably considered LASIK surgery (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, to give it its full name), a fast, safe procedure that began proliferating throughout the United States in the 1990s. In just a few minutes, LASIK can correct eye problems like myopia (nearsightedness — you can only see up close), hyperopia (farsightedness — you can only see far away) and astigmatism (blurred vision). But some patients notice that months or years later their vision seems to worsen again. So how long does LASIK really last?First, a little on how it works: In a LASIK procedure, a surgeon uses a high-precision blade called a microkeratome or an ultra-fast femtosecond laser to slice a corneal flap into the eye. Then, she lifts the flap to expose the corneal tissue, while an excimer laser reshapes the cornea by removing unwanted tissue. The flap settles back into place and heals within a few weeks. In the meantime, the patient immediately enjoys improved vision."The great thing about LASIK is that the results are permanent in the great majority of cases," emails Eric Donnenfeld, M.D., an ophthalmologist, who has performed many eye surgeries, including LASIK. "Assuming a stable prescription, patients can expect their vision correction to last until age-related visual changes occur – typically after the age of 45 or 50, when most people will need reading glasses." But, he said, medical conditions associated with aging, such as cataracts, may change vision many years after LASIK.
A patient undergoes LASIK surgery. BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images