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One of the most common questions potential LASIK patients ask is, “Will I really get to donate my reading glasses?”  The answer is not as cut and dried as they might like; the answer is yes and/or no.  Laser corrective eye surgery benefits usually include not having to wear glasses or contacts for day-to-day general vision, but depending on what is being corrected in regards to your cornea, you may need reading glasses for certain situations.

Laser Corrective Eye Surgery

Eliminating Dependency on Glasses is One of Many LASIK Benefits

In order to understand what laser corrective eye surgery does, you have to understand that it doesn’t correct every type of vision problem. LASIK eye surgery is designed to treat eye conditions in which distortion of the cornea is responsible for decreased vision.  For perfect vision, the cornea needs to be able to bend – refract – light and converge the light into a single focused point on the retina.  When the cornea is misshapen, even to a slight degree, the light can refract onto different locations on the retina, which causes a fuzzy or distorted image.  Depending on the way the cornea is misshapen, this can cause:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Astigmatism (in which everything is slightly blurry)

Depending on the degree of a patient’s prescription, LASIK surgery can either reverse the condition and restore 20/20 vision, or it may result in vastly improved vision that requires visual assistance from time to time.  Here are some examples of when a LASIK surgery patient may still require reading glasses.

LASIK Benefits of Monovision

For some laser corrective eye surgery candidates, the doctor may recommend a procedure that results in monovision, meaning that one eye is corrected for nearsightedness and the other eye is corrected for farsightedness.  Together the eyes can work to form more accurate images from objects and text both near and far.  However, when this is done, there will still be a slight visual weakness that could be exacerbated when a patient is tired or when attempting to read in a poorly lit area.  In this case, it can still be a good idea to have reading glasses on hand.  However, most patients who receive monovision rely significantly less on reading glasses compared with before their LASIK surgery.

LASIK Regression

One of the reasons we keep a careful eye (pun intended) on our patients for several months after their LASIK surgery is because, once in a while, a process called “regression” occurs.  It is most common in patients who have very poor vision to start with.  If regression occurs, patients may find they need to use reading glasses to supplement their vision from time to time.  After about three months, when eye tissues have healed and vision has stabilized, we are usually able to perform an enhancement procedure that will be the final step necessary to restore vision and make reading glasses less necessary.

Presbyopia or “Aging Eyes = Farsightedness”

Presbyopia is a process that occurs as the lens of the eye ages and loses elasticity. It actually becomes harder, and the lens loses the ability to focus on things that are close up. In other words, almost everyone becomes more farsighted as they age. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable between the ages of 45-50.  In patients who are approaching 50+ and who have had LASIK surgery in the past, presbyopia may cause a need for reading glasses.  Sometimes the presbyopia can be reversed with the LASIK benefits of enhancement, but not always. In some cases, LASIK surgery cannot prevent the need for reading glasses.

The thing to keep in mind is that even in the cases where reading glasses are necessary, most of our patients find that their LASIK benefits far outweigh the risks.