LASIK Enhancement: Can You Get LASIK Twice?

can you get lasik twice

Initially thrilled with the results of LASIK surgery, many find the freedom from glasses and contact lenses to be a remarkable improvement in their daily lives. However, for some, in rare cases, this satisfaction is short-lived. Some may notice their vision isn’t as sharp as it once was and begin to wonder if LASIK can be performed a second time.

LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a widely used refractive surgery that corrects vision issues like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. The benefits are significant: quick recovery, long-lasting results, and reduced dependence on corrective eyewear. But as vision naturally changes over time, the question arises—can you get LASIK twice? This blog delves into the feasibility of undergoing a second LASIK procedure.

Can You Get LASIK Twice?

In short, yes, you can get LASIK surgery twice, also known as the LASIK retreatment or enhancement procedure. While you can get LASIK twice, it’s highly uncommon for patients to need it again, and only approximately 1% to 2% of previous LASIK treatment patients get an enhancement within the first year of the treatment, and about 5% get it again in their lifetime. About a majority of the patients only need one LASIK for improved vision.

How Many Times Can You Get LASIK?

In general, there is no set limit on the number of times someone can have LASIK eye surgery. The primary considerations for being a candidate for a LASIK enhancement usually involve the overall health of your eyes, the stability of your vision, and the reasons for contemplating an additional procedure.

What are the Reasons to Get LASIK Twice?

As mentioned above, people usually do not have to get LASIK done more than once; it entirely depends on your vision’s health and the stability of your vision. There are several reasons that people may have to get LASIK done more than once in their lifetime. Here are some known reasons why:

1. Regression

Changes in the healing process or eye structure post the first LASIK surgery can cause regression in your vision over time. Sometimes, due to this regression, you may have to get LASIK done again to correct your vision.

2. Residual Refractive Error

It may so happen that following an initial LASIK procedure, a residual refractive error such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism may persist.

3. Aging

As you age, your eyesight undergoes gradual changes, typically shifting by about 1% on an annual basis. Consequently, nearly a decade after undergoing LASIK, your vision might differ by approximately 10 percent. Most people experience age-related nearsightedness, or presbyopia, around age 45. This condition, which makes close-up reading challenging and often necessitates reading glasses, is neither caused nor corrected by LASIK. If you had LASIK before developing presbyopia, you might consider Monovision LASIK, an enhancement surgery to address this new condition.

4. LASIK Surgery Complications

In rare circumstances, complications may develop during your initial LASIK surgery, impacting your vision. To correct this complication, a second LASIK surgery may be required.

5. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can influence various aspects of eye health and vision but may not directly influence your need for LASIK enhancement. But here’s how pregnancy may indirectly affect the women’s vision:

  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy can cause hormonal fluctuations that may lead to temporary changes in vision. These changes can include altered corneal thickness and shape, dry eyes, and fluctuations in prescription. Because these changes are often temporary, it’s recommended to wait until postpartum to assess the stability of vision before considering any surgical intervention.
  • Postpartum Period: It is generally recommended to wait several months after giving birth and after breastfeeding is completed to allow hormonal levels to return to normal and for vision to stabilize before considering any refractive surgery.
  • Vision Stability: For LASIK surgery to be successful, the patient’s vision should be stable. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, vision can fluctuate, making it difficult to determine a stable prescription. Therefore, ophthalmologists usually advise against undergoing LASIK surgery or a second LASIK procedure during this period.

6. Cataracts

The development of cataracts in seniors after the first LASIK surgery may also be a reason for getting LASIK enhancement done. But one thing to note is that in such situations, vision may be mostly affected by cataracts, and LASIK enhancement may not correct your vision. In such situations, you will need cataract surgery.

Lasik Surgery Touch-Up Or Enhancement

LASIK surgery is the most common and preferred method for treating vision problems, employing a laser procedure to correct vision issues and corneal irregularities. This technique serves as an alternative to contact lenses and glasses.

Over 90% of patients who undergo LASIK surgery successfully recover from their vision problems, with only 1 to 5% requiring a LASIK enhancement. This enhancement involves a touch-up laser treatment, where the corneal flap is lifted again, and additional laser correction is applied to address any residual vision issues. This is not considered a failure of the initial LASIK surgery but rather a variation in how the cornea responds to healing after laser treatment. When performed a second time, LASIK enhancements yield excellent and predictable results compared to other surgical procedures.

A pre-LASIK evaluation is necessary before undergoing a LASIK enhancement to determine the feasibility of the touch-up treatment. In some cases, the corneal thickness may be insufficient, making an enhancement impossible. During the pre-LASIK check, it is crucial to assess whether the cornea is of adequate thickness; if it is too thin, a second LASIK procedure cannot be performed.

What Type of Procedure is Required to Repeat LASIK Surgery?

The protocol for performing a repeat LASIK surgery hinges on the residual corneal bed thickness beneath the flap and the type of initial procedure used.

  • Excimer Laser Ablation: If the remaining corneal bed is adequately thick, the excimer laser can be utilized for ablation to adjust the vision. If the corneal bed is insufficiently thick, alternative methods are considered.
  • Surface Ablation: In this technique, the flap is not lifted. Instead, the laser is applied directly to the corneal surface. This approach is suitable for cases with thinner corneas where conventional touch-ups on the underlying bed aren’t feasible. Patients are prescribed antibiotics to prevent eye infections. Although LASIK can be performed more than twice, it is typically unnecessary, as the initial surgery corrects over 95% of patients’ vision, making subsequent surgeries rarely required.

What is the Ideal Time Required Between LASIK Treatment and LASIK Enhancement?

The key to effectively enhancing LASIK surgery lies in the interval between the initial procedure and the follow-up touch-up treatment. Enhancement should only be considered once the eye’s residual power has stabilized post-surgery. Consequently, a waiting period of 2-3 months is recommended before undergoing enhancement treatment.

Occasionally, blurred vision may persist after the initial surgery, often resolving within a few weeks. Therefore, it is premature to assume that the initial surgery was unsuccessful if clear vision has not yet been achieved. A touch-up LASIK or enhancement procedure can be performed if vision does not improve within a few months.

Bottom Line

LASIK surgery is one of the most reliable surgeries for correcting your vision and removing your eye prescription. However, even the best things have exceptions. While most LASIK cases won’t need a second chance, some are rare, and you might need to get LASIK enhancement. It’s always best to consult your opthalmologist. Our experts at Insight Vision Center will guide you throughout your LASIK surgery journey and help you wherever needed.
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