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Can You Achieve 20-20 Vision With LASIK?

By Jon McKenna
Your chances for 20/20 vision after LASIK are good, but can be limited by your existing eye prescription and other factors.

If you are considering laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis(LASIK) eye surgery, your doctor will likely tell you that the ideal outcome is the best vision possible given your age and the condition of your eyes. In other words, ideal outcomes vary from patient to patient. 

So, how likely are you to enjoy 20/20 vision (the ability to read an eye chart from 20 feet away) after LASIK? Read on for some expert insights. 

LASIK Eye Surgery Results: What You Can Expect

During a LASIK procedure, a laser is used to change the shape of one or both corneas to improve vision.

According to the American Refractive Surgery Council, more than 90% of LASIK patients achieve 20/20 vision or better after 2 to 3 months of post-surgery recovery. Mayo Clinic reports that the chances of attaining 20/25 vision or better with LASIK surgery are very good. Yuna Rapoport, MD, MPH, and Director at Manhattan Eye in New York tells WebMD Connect to Care that “about 95% achieve 20/20 vision, but that varies.”

The following are some reasons for that variation. 

Your Pre-Surgery Prescription

The first factor that could cause variable response to LASIK is how much vision correction you already need when you start considering the procedure, Christopher Hood, MD, an associate professor at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“The higher the prescription (for glasses or contact lenses) and the farther away we are from the target to start with, the harder it is to achieve 20/20,” Hood says. Let’s say you have a prescription for -3 nearsightedness. At that vision quality, “roughly 80% to 90% of patients will be 20/20 or better after LASIK. If your prescription worsens to -6, the odds decline to approximately 70%, according to Hood.

Anatomical Factors

The specifics of your eye anatomy can also influence the outcome of your LASIK procedure. In fact, Mayo Clinic points out that laser eye surgery is best for people who do not have any unusual vision issues. 

“Some people have a long and stretched retina that can never be corrected to 20/20 vision,” Hood says. “Maybe 20/25 is a more realistic target,” Hood says. Additionally, Mayo Clinic notes that the following factors are associated with complications or negative outcomes with LASIK:

  • Dry eyes
  • Large pupils
  • Some abnormalities of the eyelid

Pre-Existing Eye Diseases

Mayo Clinic notes that the following diseases can predispose someone to complications or negative outcomes with LASIK:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Keratoconus
  • Keratitis
  • Uvetis
  • Herpes simplex in the eye area

Your Doctor and Facilities

According to Rapoport, the skills of your surgeon and the quality of their surgical and screening technology also influence the likelihood of achieving 20/20 vision after LASIK. The FDA advises that you should do the following while choosing your doctor:

  • Compare. When you are deciding between surgeons, make sure you factor in how experienced each doctor is with your chosen procedure.
  • Go beyond looking at costs. Remember that you only have one set of eyes and don't automatically go for the easiest or cheapest option.
  • Be cautious about advertising claims. Money-back guarantees or similar offers shouldn't be trusted. 
  • Read. You can ask for the patient handbook provided by the manufacturer of the device that your doctor will use to perform your surgery. Your doctor should also be willing to discuss all of your questions about the handbook with you. 

Start Your Journey To Better Vision Today.

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