Life looks a lot better in sharp focus. Poor vision can have a significant impact on your quality of life, but laser eye surgery is a quick, effective solution.
According to Optegra, over 15,000 people in the UK receive laser eye surgery every year. The treatment transforms people’s eyesight and frees them from a life of glasses and contact lenses.
What’s more, LASIK – the most popular type of laser eye treatment – has an extremely high success rate, and the latest RCOphth report found over 95% of patients satisfied with the results.
However, on the rare occasion that laser eye surgery doesn’t cure your sight completely, can you have it again? The short answer is yes, although it depends on a few things.
Read on for our complete guide to having laser eye surgery twice – or, if you’d like to book a free consultation with a qualified consultant, just click here to find a top-rated laser eye surgery clinic near you.
In this article you will learn:
01 | Is laser eye surgery permanent?
02 | How long does laser eye surgery last?
03 | Why would I need to repeat laser eye surgery?
04 | What is laser eye surgery enhancement?
05 | Am I eligible for enhancement?
1. Can You Have Laser Eye Surgery Twice?
For most people, the outcome of laser eye surgery is permanent, thanks to the high success rates of the procedure. Around 95% of patients report being very happy with the results, and experience vastly improved eyesight for years after surgery.
For the remaining 5% of people, however, the vision correction may come short of the desired outcome, and these patients sometimes seek laser eye surgery more than once. Such laser eye surgery enhancements or touch-ups are usually free for the first year after treatment.
Fortunately, so long as the corneal tissue (on the front of your eye) is thick enough and your eyes are healthy, you can receive repeat laser eye treatment.
Here Mr Ali Mearza, Clinical Direct of Ophthalmology and lead consultant ophthalmic surgeon at London’s Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, discusses whether you can have laser eye surgery twice:
☛ It’s always a good idea to talk through all your options with a qualified laser eye surgeon. Eye tests will help you decide whether the surgery makes sense for you, and you can get started by finding a top-rated laser eye surgery clinic near you here.
2. How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Last?
The vast majority of people are satisfied with just one laser eye treatment and never require any further alterations, enjoying at least 20/25 vision for many years after their surgery.
After ten years, approximately one in ten people return for laser surgery enhancement, according to the NICE report. These are typically people who had significant nearsightedness or farsightedness before their treatment, and whose issues have returned over time.
This is because everybody’s eyes gradually deteriorate as they get older, and there’s no way of stopping this. Laser eye surgery will permanently reshape the eye’s cornea and remove all of its imperfections – and your eyesight will most likely become 20/20 – but conditions such as nearsightedness and farsightedness may continue to develop.
Although LASIK surgery fixes the cornea, the muscles around your eyes will weaken with age and potentially cause new issues. However, your vision is extremely unlikely ever to become worse than it was before your surgery, and most people enjoy life-changing results.
3. Why Would I Need To Repeat Laser Eye Surgery?
Considering the small minority of people who do go back for more laser eye surgery, it’s highly likely that you won’t require any additional treatment. However, there are two possible situations in which you might decide to have laser eye surgery again:
Soon After Initial Surgery
Everyone has to deal with a few visual side effects for several weeks after laser eye surgery, such as sensitivity to light and blurred vision, but for most people these issues will clear.
However, if side effects persist for longer than three months, it might mean that further surgery is required. You will meet your ophthalmologist multiple times after your initial treatment, and they will decide if you need any enhancements.
There are several factors that tend to affect the success of laser eye surgery, including:
- The health of your corneas (brightly coloured fruit, green veg, and minimal computer screen time are all key to having strong corneas)
- The severity of your visual condition (people who have particularly bad farsightedness can sometimes need two treatments)
- The stability of your eyes (you shouldn’t be having surgery if your eyesight prescription has changed in the past two years)
Any responsible and professional ophthalmologist should assess you thoroughly before proceeding, so you’re unlikely to be having laser eye surgery if your eyes aren’t ready for it. According to Optical Express, 85% of adults are suitable for laser eye surgery.
Later In Life
As you get older, the muscles around your eyes become weaker and can often cause visual problems to return, such as shortsightedness and longsightedness.
Between the ages of 45 and 65, almost everyone in the world sees their vision decline as the lens behind the cornea starts to lose its ability to focus on nearby objects. This is why many people tend to require reading glasses once they reach middle age.
If you experience a decline in your prescription, and find that you’re having to increasingly rely on glasses (or contact lenses) some years after treatment, you may require a second round of laser eye surgery. A surgeon will be able to advise you on the appropriate course of action.
Read more: What’s the age limit for laser eye surgery?
4. What Is Laser Eye Surgery Enhancement?
A laser eye surgery enhancement (also known as a laser eye surgery touch-up) is the official term for having laser eye surgery a second time. Within the first 12 months after surgery, there is a 1-2% chance that someone will need to have a secondary treatment. After that, the likelihood of repeat surgery increases by approximately 1% each year.
What’s different about laser eye surgery enhancement?
The procedure for laser eye surgery touch-up is very similar to that of laser eye surgery, but a corneal flap is not created using lasers as is done during a primary laser eye procedure. Instead, the surgeon uses specialised tools to lift the flap on the surface of the eye that was previously created. This is a painless procedure that should only take a couple of minutes.
The cornea is then reshaped using a laser. During an enhancement, minimal reshaping of the cornea is needed, meaning the procedure will only take a few seconds.
Following the treatment, you will be given the same post-operative aftercare as you received after your initial laser eye surgery. Be sure to follow your ophthalmologist’s instructions in order to achieve the best possible recovery.
5. Am I Eligible?
Once you’ve decided that you want laser eye surgery enhancement, you need to be sure that your eyes are still suitable. If it’s only been a few months after your initial procedure, it’s important that your eyes have healed sufficiently before going under the laser again. Furthermore, your eyesight must be stable (i.e. no recent changes to your prescription).
There are a couple of essential requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for the procedure:
- Thick corneas: every time you undergo laser eye surgery, a small amount of corneal tissue is removed from your eye. This tissue does not grow back, meaning that if too much was removed during your initial surgery, you will not be eligible to undergo a secondary treatment and instead will need to use glasses to correct your vision. Your surgeon will assess the thickness of your corneas to determine if there is enough to work with for enhancement surgery.
- Good overall health: as with laser eye surgery you will need to be in good overall health to undertake laser eye enhancement. This includes having no eye infections or retinal disease, not suffering from an autoimmune disease and not taking any immunosuppressant drugs.
- Blurred vision: if your vision is still noticeably blurred three months after your initial surgery and you cannot see clearly without glasses.
6. Risks of Laser Eye Surgery
Like any type of surgery, laser eye surgery comes with its risks. Most of them are fairly minor side effects that only last a few weeks or months, but it’s important to consider each one before going ahead with the procedure. Of course, your ophthalmologist will run through all the possible outcomes with you. Here are the typical risks you’ll face after undergoing laser eye surgery:
Dry eyes. Around 50% of LASIK patients experience some level of dryness in their eyes after surgery, as the procedure irritates the eyes and causes a temporary reduction in tear production. The dryness usually passes once the eye has fully healed (after about six months), especially if treated with lubricating eye drops.
Visual disturbances. Many people will experience a few minor problems with their vision after the operation, with typical issues include glare, halos, double vision, and reduced visibility in dim lighting. In most cases, you can expect these problems to pass within three to six months.
Astigmatism. An ‘astigmatism’ is the long word for when your eye isn’t perfectly round. Nobody has completely spherical eyeballs, but eyes that are significantly misshapen cause issues such as blurry and double vision. An astigmatism can develop after laser eye surgery if the eye heals irregularly, or (in rare cases) if the laser was not properly centered on the eye. In these instances, you may need secondary treatment.
Loss of vision. This is an extremely rare risk (less than 0.01%), and the possibility of any long-term eyesight damage directly caused by laser eye surgery reduces every year as technology improves. What’s more, if the treatment does cause a decrease in the patient’s clarity of vision, it’s usually something that can be amended with further surgery.
7. Laser Eye Surgery Success Rates
Here are the typical success rates for each of the key types of laser eye surgery, all of which are highly advanced and efficient procedures:
- LASIK and LASEK success rates – LASIK currently has a 96% patient satisfaction rate, with 99% of patients achieving at least 20/40 vision, and 90% achieving 20/20 vision. The success rates for LASEK are practically identical.
- PRK success rate – Over 95% of PRK patients achieve at least 20/40 vision, and around 90% come away with 20/20 vision.
- Cataract surgery success rate – Approximately 98% of cataract surgeries are successful, with only 2% of patients needing to return for further treatment.
Read more: Laser eye surgery guidance from NICE
8. How Much Does Laser Eye Surgery Enhancement Cost?
If laser eye surgery enhancement is performed within a year of your initial surgery (by the same surgeon), then it tends to be done free of charge. However, any enhancement performed after this time will tend to be full price.
To give you an idea of how much you could expect to pay for enhancement surgery, the table below compares the average cost per eye of the most common types of laser eye surgery. The prices are based on quotes from the UK’s leading eye surgery clinics.
|Type Of Laser Eye Surgery||Price Per Eye|
|Wavefront Technology||From £1495|
Estimates updated in April 2019.
You should consult with your ophthalmologist regarding policies and fees for laser enhancement procedures, and the aftercare that will be needed if you have a second surgery.
Many of the UK’s leading clinics also offer finance options with 0% APR that will help you to spread the cost of your laser eye surgery.
Read more: Laser eye surgery costs explained
9. Can you have cataract surgery twice?
Technically speaking, no – you can’t have cataract surgery twice, because you don’t need it. Cataracts form when the natural lens in your eye starts to break down, so cataract surgery removes the natural lens and replaces it with an artificial one (called an intraocular lens, or IOL). With an artificial lens in your eye, cataracts won’t form again.
However, once an IOL is inserted into your eye, this can cause the natural capsule around the lens to fog up. If this happens, you might need after-cataract surgery, known as YAG Laser Posterior Capsulotomy, where a laser is used to polish up the capsule.
Read more: Cataract surgery costs
10. Talk to an Eye Surgeon
If you would like a clear yes or no on whether you are eligible for getting laser eye surgery twice, the best next step is to book a free consultation with a specialist ophthalmologist at a top-rated laser eye surgery clinic near you. Just use our clinic-finder tool here.
See if there are any other top-rated clinics near you in seconds, check your eligibility in minutes, and get a free tailored quote for your surgery in just three steps:
- Compare clinics: Answer three questions to be matched to the leading eye clinics in your area.
- Book a free consultation: Find out if you’re eligible for surgery over the phone, and get tested for free with an eye consultant or surgeon (worth £800).
- Receive a personalised quote: Get a clear idea of what laser eye surgery would really cost you, and decide if you would like to go ahead.