Can You Have LASIK Twice?
LASIK, or Laser Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis, can be formed more than once if needed.
Reasons for Multiple LASIK Surgeries
There are several reasons why LASIK will be performed more than once. If you have LASIK performed when you are pre-presbyopic, typically in your 30s through early 40s, by the time you become presbyopic, or need reading glasses, you may want a tweak. Presbyopia occurs when there is a loss of the elasticity of the tissues surrounding the lens, and this causes a loss of accommodation. Basically, this means that when you bring reading material close to your eyes to read, your lens can no longer focus on the material. The traditional ways to correct this include reading glasses, whether over the counter or prescription. This works if you have perfect distance vision. If your distance vision needs correcting as well, then bifocal or progressive glasses are the way to go. If you would like to not wear glasses at all, then the best option is something called mono vision. In monovision, your dominant eye is corrected for distance vision, and your non dominant eye is corrected for near. This can be done either with a contact lens, or with LASIK. So, if you had LASIK in your 20s and 30s for distance vision and are now in your late 40s/ 50s, you may want to do LASIK again on your NONDOMINANT eye, to correct it for near vision. A trial is done ahead of time to ensure that the two eyes are able to work together.
Other times when you can do LASIK again is if your prescription has regressed slightly over the course of many years, or if you want a touch up after a cataract surgery.
What To Know About a 2nd LASIK Surgery
When you do LASIK surgery for the 2nd time, if it is within the same year, it is safe to relift the flap that was created originally (if done by the same surgeon). After 1 year, it is safer to perform PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy on top of that eye instead. This procedure is similar to LASIK, but instead of creating a new flap, the laser changes the shape of the cornea directly. First, the top layer of cells, the epithelium, is removed. Then the laser custom ablates the surface of the eye, and a bandage contact lens is placed on top. The lens acts like a band-aid, and is removed in the office once the epithelium heals, in 3-5 days. The result is the same as with LASIK, without having to relift the flap or create a new flap.
So while technically, LASIK can only be performed twice on the same eye if it is within the same year, there is an option to perform PRK, a different type of refractive procedure can be performed multiple times after LASIK on the same eye.