Joel Hunter, MD Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 07/30/20 4:08 PM
In 1989, someone got their eyes lasered for vision correction for the first time ever. I’d give you the name, but HIPAA forbids it and I don’t know what it was. About 10 years later, LASIK had become an incredibly popular procedure because people had a way, for the first time ever, to get out of glasses and contacts with a quick procedure that had a painless recovery.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, LASIK didn’t really require much advertising because the idea that it could exist was so incredible that people automatically wanted it once they found out it was possible. I should clarify that most of those people (including myself, as a LASIK patient in 2003) were in the “early adopter” crowd. I still meet people every day in clinic who are in the “wait and see” (ha! get it?) crowd that first looked into the idea 20 years ago. For the early adopter crowd, they’ve been on the other side of having their eyes lasered for so long that most of them can’t remember the name of the doctor that did it (I can...Dr. Groden, super genius, mentor, and close friend if you ask me and not him).
For a fraction of those folks who had laser all those years ago, they are back in glasses for one reason or another. There’s two important points about that. First, much like the people who STILL get the flu in spite of getting the flu shot, they are a small, justifiably vocal minority. You never hear someone say, “I got the flu shot and it worked perfectly!” and I never meet people that are visiting me to say that their LASIK from 10 years ago is great, even though that is the majority of people who’ve had LASIK. Second, needing reading glasses is an inevitability of an eye that moves from age 40 to age 50. That loss in near vision isn’t hurried or slowed by LASIK, and I feel like sometimes LASIK gets a bad rap because it is expected to do something it wasn’t designed to do (i.e. keep the eye youthful in perpetuity). And now, after a digression that almost certainly was more important to me than to you, I can answer the question that started this blog.
Can you do laser vision correction on someone that had LASIK and now needs glasses again either for distance or for reading? Yes. Yes you can. It is just that that was too short of an answer to work as a blog. Laser is oftentimes a perfect solution for someone who wants to see clearer many years after previous vision correction. It is a part of what we do here every week. There are times when more laser is a bad idea, and it is important to be honest and objective about that. Luckily, for folks that shouldn’t have more laser, or those for whom it just isn’t the best choice, it is usually because there is a much better choice. Refractive lens exchange is usually the best route to fix near vision when the lens inside the eye is causing all the difficulty, and more laser on the front of the eye would only improve the situation and not cure it.
So in summary, laser can be an option for the “wait and see” crowd, or for my friends that jumped on laser at the first chance they got. To find out, you just need the right diagnostic imaging and a really picky doctor who isn’t trying to find a way to use a laser no matter what.
A recognized and respected specialist in vision correction who has performed a countless number of refractive surgeries, Joel gives lectures across the country and trains fellow doctors in the newest LASIK surgery techniques.