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How long does laser eye surgery last?

Written by Mr Bruce Allan, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

19 November 2021
  • Laser vision correction normally leaves you with life-long freedom from spectacles for sport and socialising.
  • Natural changes in your spectacle prescription can occur at any age.
  • Laser vision correction can usually be repeated safely if you do have a prescription shift.
  • We look at how changes typically affect different age groups.

How vision changes affect people in different age groups

If you have short sight (myopia) corrected in your early 20s, and particularly if you have a higher level of short sight, it is more common to need repeat treatment after a few years. This is because the level of short sightedness may not stabilise until your mid or late 20s. We like to see that your spectacle prescription has been stable for two years before we go ahead with laser vision correction in younger patients, but if you do have a natural shift in your prescription, even many years later, repeat laser correction can usually be performed safely.

If your vision has been corrected in your 20s or 30s, you will start to need reading glasses from your mid-40s onwards. This is a normal age related change caused by stiffening of the natural lens in the eye (presbyopia).

Loss of focus flexibility affects all of us, with or without laser eye surgery. Long-sighted (hyperopic) people are most affected. This is because they are already using up at least some of their diminishing reserve of focus flexibility in order to compensate for being long-sighted. If you have long sight, you lose your reading vision first, and then find yourself dependent on distance glasses as well. For this reason, many long-sighted people end up wearing varifocal glasses.

Vision correction for the over 40s

Laser vision correction works particularly well if you are in the 40+ age group, whether you have long sight, short sight, or astigmatism. But rather than aiming for a clear distance vision in both eyes, if you are over 40, we normally offset the focus in one eye to sharpen the near range.

Although distance vision and vision at screen distance will normally remain good after laser vision correction with this approach, you may notice a gradual decline in clarity for the sub-50cm range, particularly in poor light, as you get into your later 50s. This is because the natural lens stiffens up completely as we get towards our 60s.

Refractive lens exchange (RLE)

For many of us, the natural lens, which is the part of the eye most affected by aging, will start misting up in our 60s and 70s. This misting in the eye is called a cataract when it starts to interfere with our vision. The next stop for patients having laser vision correction in their 40s or 50s, who are troubled by the loss of reading clarity, is a version of cataract surgery called refractive lens exchange (RLE), in which the natural lens is exchanged for a lens implant. Modern laser vision correction systems produce a more natural focusing shape in the cornea. This combines well with newer extended depth of focus lens implants if RLE or cataract surgery is required later in life.

Moorfields Private Eye Hospital and Covid-19: Keeping our patients and staff safe

We know some patients are feeling anxious about coming in for their appointments at the moment, but we want to reassure you with the measures we have put in place to help protect you. Moorfields Private is in a unique position as Moorfields Eye Hospital has been open for emergencies and sight saving eye care throughout the entire covid-19 pandemic. This experience has given Moorfields Private a wealth of knowledge around how best to protect patients and staff in these challenging times, while continuing to deliver world-leading eye care.

Further information about our safety measures can be found here.

For further information about Moorfields Private Eye Hospital’s services contact our New Patient Team on:

Freephone: 0800 3283 421

Email: moorfieldsprivate.enquiries@nhs.net

Website: www.moorfields-private.co.uk

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