Can Reading Vision Be Improved by Lasik?

Maybe you happen to be one of the many who are tired of wearing glasses or corrective lenses and believe that surgery may be the right option to help correct your vision. Or perhaps you are in the group that actually does not wear glasses but has passed the age of 40 and are now struggling to read small print after having developed a need for lenses to read or to see things up close.

Whether you’re in the former or latter group, many often turn to the option of LASIK surgery, a type of refractive eye surgery to a very delicate part of the eye that helps most people achieve 20/25 vision or better to help with better engagement with daily activities.

Millions have had LASIK done with success and the surgery itself has had a compelling track record. Most of the time, complications that result in any loss of vision are rare, with minor side effects to include dry eyes and temporary visual disturbances which typically clear up after a few weeks or months. Very few people consider LASIK to be a long-term problem, with those affected by mild nearsightedness having had the most success in the past. Individuals with a high degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness along with astigmatism have less predictable results. Is LASIK for reading a worth-while investment?

Understanding the Eyes

In order to see clearly, the cornea and the lens must bend — or refract — light rays so that they can focus on the retina, which then converts the light rays into impulses that are sent to the brain where they can be recognized as images.

If the light rays do not focus on the retina, the images are seen as blurry. These refractive errors occur with conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, which cause images to end up focusing elsewhere, resulting in blurred vision. The use of glasses, contact lenses, and refractive surgery helps reduce these errors by making light rays focus on the retina.

The Basics of LASIK

Although there are many different variations of laser refractive surgery, LASIK is the best known and most commonly performed. Shorthand for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusi, the LASIK procedure reshapes the cornea. Before making a decision, however, here are some important factors to consider:

  • As with any surgery, there are risks and possible complications, as the surgery is done to a very delicate part of your eye and cannot be reversed. Though millions of people have had LASIK– many very successfully– it is not for everyone.
  • LASIK may not give you perfect vision and cannot completely correct or prevent presbyopia (the age-related loss of focusing power for seeing near objects). Those over the age of forty are still likely to need reading glasses as the years pass.
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reported that 9 out of 10 patients achieved somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40 vision, but 20/40 vision may not always be sharp enough for certain work or leisure activities.
  • Benefits of the LASIK procedure diminishes over time, with more than 10 percent of LASIK patients in the U.S. requiring a second surgery, called “retreatment,” to restore the desired vision correction. This is most common for those who were formerly nearsighted or farsighted, or had higher astigmatism.

What to Expect

Before a LASIK procedure, eye surgeons will normally assess detailed measurements of your eye and then use a special type of cutting laser to precisely alter the curvature of the cornea. With each pulse of the laser beam, a tiny amount of corneal tissue is removed, allowing surgeons to flatten the curve of the cornea or make it steeper. A flap in the cornea is created and then raised up to reshape the cornea.

There are also variations in which a very thin flap is raised or no flap is used at all or no flap at all is raised. There are several surgical alternatives to LASIK, each with their own advantages and disadvantages including:

  • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK): In surgery using PRK, including Epi-LASIK and LASEK, rather than forming a flap, surgeons scrape away the top surface (epithelium).
  • Conductive Keratoplasty (CK): A thermal refractive surgery procedure used to correct mild to moderate farsightedness (hyperopia) in people over age 40 by using a tiny probe that releases controlled amounts of radio frequency (RF) energy– instead of a laser– to apply heat to the peripheral portion of the cornea.
  • Phakic Intraocular Lens (IOL): An IOL is a form of implantable contact lens that is surgically put inside the eye in front of the lens. This is routinely done as part of cataract surgery and is something to consider instead of LASIK for older adults who may need cataract surgery in the future. Certain types of IOLs, such as Multifocal or accommodative lenses, not only improve distance vision but also eliminate the need for reading glasses.Younger people with high degrees of nearsightedness that cannot be satisfactorily treated with corrective lenses may also be offered implantable lenses, though it is not a common alternative for most individuals.

Let Us Help: LASIK for Reading

It is important to remember that different eye surgeons specialize in specific types of laser eye procedures. The differences among them are generally minor and none are clearly better than any others, as it all ends up depending on individual circumstances, wants, and needs

For more information about LASIK for reading and other vision correction procedures, contact Laser for Eyes today. The human eye is marvelously complex and our goal is to help you keep it happy and healthy!