You get to meet all kinds of people in my line of work. Actually, now that I’ve written it out, I’m realizing you could say that of just about any job. Unless you are a lighthouse watchman or a professional hermit, you’re going to meet all kinds of people. The unique part of my job is getting to hear eyeball questions from all kinds of people. Today’s blog question comes from a specific personality type. And at your job, if you’ve ever met the kind of person that arrives at each meeting with a spiral notebook full of prepared research, then you’ve met the kind of person for whom today’s blog is written. That specific person will usually ask this specific question at a LASIK consult. And maybe, if it’s you reading this blog, you can get an answer nailed down right now for your research notebook.
An Outdated Question
The main issue with the question is that premise for it is a bit outdated. The idea of the longevity of effect from LASIK is more a late ‘90s/early 2000s deal. Back in those days, lasers weren’t able to reshape the cornea with the nuance of subtle curves possible today. If your cornea was made flatter by a laser — and in this case, we mean flat like a table — then your cornea would do what comes naturally to living tissue. It would try to round out the flat spot. New layers of epithelium on the surface would thicken up over the flattened area and then (sad trombone noise) the LASIK you paid for lost its effect.
As good as the post-op medications and understanding of healing dynamics have become, the modernity of lasers deserves most of the praise of the longevity of LASIK results nowadays. The improvements in corneal reshaping, so that the cornea can keep a natural curve, are very rarely prone to the regression that used to be an issue.
We can help it along with preservative-free tears for the first month or two after LASIK. That keeps mild amounts of inflammation from forming. Inflammation is your bodies way of saying, “Hey! Fix this!” So a smooth, lubricated cornea is able to fly under the radar easier. Less inflammation means less variability because your body isn’t trying to “fix” what the laser did.
As for sunglasses, I’m not sure where that myth came from other than bright lights can cause eye strain. Eye strain is uncomfortable and stuff that is uncomfortable seems like it might be a symptom of a problem that needs to be addressed. But in this case, the discomfort or eye strain isn’t related to LASIK results. It just means a lot of pupil constriction and squinting makes your eyes tired after a while. Sunglasses are great, but your LASIK results should not regress if you wear them or if you don’t.
LASIK is Much Better Now
So most of the time when I’m answering a question about what to do to increase the longevity of LASIK results, it ends up just being a discussion of how much better LASIK is now than it was just a few years ago. Since everyone knows someone who had LASIK with temporary results, it makes sense to look for ways to avoid the same fate. Luckily, for most people, they’re avoiding it by having LASIK in 2018 instead of 2003. After I say that, the person who asked the question will sometimes silently wait, looking for something more concrete to write in their spiral notebook. In those cases, I’ll try to quickly point out that preservative-free tears every two hours for eight weeks can definitely help fine tune results even more. I meet all kinds of people in my job. I get along with the research-everything type of person; they are my spirit animal. And I know deep down, they — just like me — really just want to have some notes to take.