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Moorfields Private Blog

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    How long does laser eye surgery last?

    Written by Mr Bruce Allan, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
    • Laser eye surgery normally leaves you with life-long freedom from spectacles for sport and socialising.
    • Natural changes in your spectacle prescription can occur at any age.
    • We look at how changes typically affect different age groups. 

    couple overlooking moutain range

    Laser eye surgery normally leaves you with life-long freedom from spectacles for sport and socialising. But your eyes are not made of plastic, and natural changes in your spectacle prescription can occur at any age. If you experience a shift in your vision after laser eye surgery, there are normally good repeat treatment options for every age group.

    What to expect when you have laser eye surgery

    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 eye surgery in younger patients, but if you do have a natural shift in your prescription, even many years later, repeat laser eye surgery 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.

    Women looking down at her smartphone and laptop

    Vision correction for the over 40s

    Laser eye surgery 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 will normally remain good after laser eye surgery 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 50s. This is because the natural lens stiffens up completely as we get towards our 60s. 

    Read More: Is there an age limit to laser eye surgery?

    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 eye surgery 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.


    Or speak to the New Patient Enquiry Team:
    0800 328 3421



    Mr Bruce Allan

    Written by Mr Bruce Allan

    Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon