Does LASIK Cure Presbyopia?

Reviewed by: David Schanzlin, MD

Vision Tips & Prevention Vision Tips & Prevention

LASIK is a popular vision correction surgery that can improve eyesight for people with certain refractive errors, such as nearsightedness. If you are looking for a solution that can help you ditch reading glasses, it makes sense to think of LASIK. But can LASIK actually correct presbyopia?

Understanding Age-Related Near Vision Loss

As we age, the eye’s lens begins to stiffen and change shape, a natural process that gradually causes a type of near vision loss called presbyopia Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source American Optometric Association Presbyopia Go to Source 1 . Around the age of 40, many people begin to hold items such as phones or books further away or squint when reading small print. The usual culprit for this difficulty in seeing things up close is presbyopia. Presbyopia affects everyone and while there is no way to prevent it, the most common treatment is reading glasses.

Can LASIK Eliminate My Need for Reading Glasses?

LASIK can be a good option for people who are seeking treatment for nearsightedness or other typical refractive errors. However, it is not intended to treat presbyopia. LASIK works by reshaping the cornea, but the loss of near vision from presbyopia is a result of changes in the eye’s lens. Even if a LASIK procedure in your 20’s gave you freedom from glasses and contacts, you may still need reading glasses in your 40’s or 50’s.  Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source U.S. Food and Drug Administration LASIK Go to Source 2

Some eye doctors offer a treatment called monovision LASIK to treat presbyopia. In a monovision procedure, one eye is corrected for distance and the other for near vision. Monovision depends on the brain’s ability to adapt to it, so it does not work for everyone. After 40, many patients also have dry eye concerns and LASIK has been shown to cause increased dry eye symptoms. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Molecular Pain: SAGE Journals Chronic dry eye symptoms after LASIK: parallels and lessons to be learned from other persistent post-operative pain disorders. Go to Source 3 This off-label use of LASIK is not FDA approved to treat presbyopia, and there is limited information on how effective it is for patients with presbyopia.

Treatment Options for Presbyopia

Reading glasses are the most common way to correct presbyopia. However, many people don’t like the way they look in reading glasses or they are annoyed by the hassle of taking readers on and off throughout the day.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

One vision correction procedure that is sometimes used to treat presbyopia is called refractive lens exchange or RLE. Using methods that are essentially the same as cataract surgery, RLE involves replacing the eye’s natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens implant (IOL). Some types of premium IOLs, such as multifocal or trifocal lenses, can improve presbyopia and reduce the need for reading glasses. While IOLs are approved by the FDA as a medical device to treat cataracts, they are not intended to correct presbyopia as a primary function. There is limited data available since RLE is an off-label use of IOLs, but some experts have concerns about postoperative side effects that range from visual disturbances like halos and glare to more serious complications like retinal detachment.  Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source US Ophthalmic Review Updates and Challenges in Refractive Lens Exchange. Go to Source 4

There is currently no surgical option that is FDA-approved with an indication to treat presbyopia, but that doesn’t mean that you are limited to glasses as your only option—Learn more about potential treatments for presbyopia

Have More Questions About Presbyopia?

We know that age-related vision changes can be frustrating and confusing, but the team at Presbyopia Life is here for you. Our vision experts provide educational resources to help you better understand presbyopia and empower you to take great care of your vision. Learn more:

Trusetd Source Checkbox  Sources

1 American Optometric Association. Presbyopia. Available: Accessed September 9, 2020.

2 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. LASIK. Available: Accessed September 9, 2020.
3 Levitt AE, Galor A, Weiss JS, et al. Chronic dry eye symptoms after LASIK: parallels and lessons to be learned from other persistent post-operative pain disorders. Mol Pain. 2015;11:21. Published 2015 Apr 21. doi:10.1186/s12990-015-0020-7
4 Dhaliwal, Deepinder. Updates and Challenges in Refractive Lens Exchange. US Ophthalmic Review. January, 2018. DOI: 10.17925/USOR.2018.11.1.17

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