Man holding reading glasse. Presbyopia and LASIK

As we age, most of us will experience presbyopia – the gradual loss of our eyes’ ability to focus on close objects, requiring reading glasses. LASIK eye surgery has been a popular solution for distance vision problems for many years. However, when treating presbyopia and eliminating the need for reading glasses, LASIK may not be the straightforward answer many expect.

While LASIK can successfully correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, treating presbyopia and restoring the flexibility of the eye’s natural lens presents unique challenges. LASIK only addresses the cornea and doesn’t impact the aging lens. As a result, patients who undergo traditional LASIK as they start to experience presbyopia symptoms often find they still need reading glasses for close-up tasks after surgery1.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the downsides and limitations of conventional LASIK for presbyopia. We’ll discuss why it may not provide a permanent solution to ditching reading glasses later in life. Alternative presbyopia-correcting procedures will also be examined that can potentially achieve better results for clear vision at both distances without glasses.

Key Takeaways

  • While LASIK can effectively treat distance vision issues, it does not fully address the underlying cause of presbyopia and loss of reading ability from aging eyes, so patients may still need reading glasses after surgery.
  • Treating presbyopia presents unique challenges for LASIK since it only impacts the cornea and not the aging lens, as is required to restore flexibility for clear vision at both distances without additional lenses.
  • Other presbyopia-correcting procedures beyond traditional LASIK may provide better outcomes for permanent glasses-free vision through techniques that can target the lens.

Understanding Presbyopia and LASIK

A person wearing glasses and looking at a distant object

Presbyopia is a common age-related vision problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It results from the hardening of the eye’s natural lens, causing difficulty in focusing on close-up objects.

LASIK, a popular laser eye surgery, has emerged as a promising treatment option for correcting various vision issues, including the ability to LASIK cure presbyopia. With the expertise of a LASIK surgeon fully correct, patients can experience improved vision and a reduced dependency on glasses or contact lenses.

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a condition that typically begins around the age of 40 and progresses until the mid-60s. As the eye’s lens stiffens with age, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on nearby objects, making routine tasks like reading or checking prices at a store challenging.

In essence, presbyopia affects our near vision, causing a need for reading glasses to see clearly up close.

How LASIK Works

LASIK is a type of laser eye surgery that involves reshaping the cornea to correct vision issues, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The precision laser treatment lasts for about 30 minutes or less, and it can significantly reduce the need for eyewear, including reading glasses, making laser eye surgery correct for many individuals.

LASIK Options for Reading Vision Improvement

A person wearing glasses and looking at a book

There are various LASIK options available for improving reading vision, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. These include Monovision LASIK, Multifocal LASIK, and Blended Vision LASIK.

Gaining knowledge about these various strategies will guide you in choosing the most suitable LASIK treatment for your reading vision requirements.

Monovision LASIK

Monovision LASIK is a procedure that corrects one eye, usually the dominant eye, for distance vision and the other, the non-dominant eye, for near vision. This approach offers clear vision at both near and far distances but can cause disorientation and potentially impair depth perception in some individuals.

Despite these potential drawbacks, Monovision LASIK has shown a success rate of over 85% for appropriately chosen patients.

The author believes this is the best option for becoming spectacle-independent following LASIK eye surgery.

Multifocal LASIK

Multifocal LASIK is an advanced type of LASIK surgery designed to correct presbyopia, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It creates distinct zones on the corneal surface for near, far, and intermediate vision. However, acknowledge that this procedure amplifies the risk of glare and halos, with approximately 70% to 96% of patients experiencing these side effects. For those who prefer a non-surgical option, multifocal contact lenses can be considered as an alternative.

Blended Vision LASIK

Blended Vision LASIK combines the advantages of monovision and multifocal LASIK, offering a complete range of focus for most patients. This procedure corrects one eye for intermediate vision and the other for distance vision, resulting in clear vision at intermediate and distance distances.

Blended Vision LASIK creates a fusion zone for intermediate and far-intermediate distances, allowing the brain to combine images and achieve clear vision at varying distances.

Alternatives to LASIK for Reading Vision Correction

For those who may not be suitable candidates for LASIK, alternative refractive surgery options are available to address reading vision issues. These alternatives include corneal inlays and refractive lens exchange (RLE).

Investigating these alternatives will lead you to the most effective solution for your reading vision requirements.

Corneal Inlays

Corneal inlays are miniature lenses or optical components inserted into the eye’s cornea. They enhance near vision for individuals with good distance vision but require reading glasses for close-up activities, as they work with the eye’s natural lens.

Corneal inlays work by altering the index of refraction or corneal curvature, increasing the depth of focus and facilitating clearer reading vision without the need for glasses.

Generally, corneal inlays have not captured a significant percentage of the presbyopia correction market, and there continues to be a shift towards refractive lens exchange (RLE)

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a procedure that entails replacing the eye’s natural lens with an artificial one to correct presbyopia. Ideal candidates for RLE are typically those aged 40 or over experiencing presbyopia and individuals with moderate to high farsightedness who have not yet developed cataracts.

The RLE procedure typically takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and is performed under a combination of relaxing medication and local anesthetic.

With the advances in presbyopia-correcting intra-ocular lenses, RLE is quickly the premier option for the correction of presbyopia.

Evaluating Your Candidacy for LASIK for Reading

A person wearing glasses and looking at a book and a distant object

Before deciding on LASIK for reading, assess your suitability by considering factors such as age, eye health, and prescription stability. Considering these factors will help you discern if LASIK is the appropriate option for rectifying your reading vision.

Age and Eye Health

The suitable age bracket for LASIK candidates ranges from 18 to 40 years old, with no upper age boundary, provided the eyes are healthy and devoid of any eye diseases. Maintaining eye health and addressing any pre-existing eye conditions before opting for LASIK for reading is paramount.

Prescription Stability

For individuals considering LASIK for reading, it is typically necessary to:

  • Maintain a steady prescription for a minimum of one to two years
  • Ensure the long-term success of LASIK for reading
  • Help prevent complications or the need for additional procedures.

Risks and Benefits of LASIK for Reading

LASIK for reading offers several benefits, including improved near vision and decreased reliance on reading glasses. However, it’s necessary to be cognizant of possible side effects and complications, including dry eyes, glare, halos, and the requirement for further procedures.

Advantages of LASIK for Reading

LASIK for reading can provide a long-term solution for individuals with near vision problems, reducing their reliance on prescription eyeglasses. This procedure is designed to help people achieve correct reading vision, allowing them to become less dependent on glasses or contact lenses and enjoy activities such as reading, using digital devices, and driving without the hassle of glasses.

Potential Side Effects and Complications

Potential side effects and complications of LASIK for reading may include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Temporary visual changes such as glare, halos, starbursts, and light sensitivity
  • Gritty or sandy sensation in the eyes during the initial days post-procedure

Discussing potential side effects and complications with an eye surgeon prior to undergoing LASIK surgery is vital to comprehend the individual risks and benefits attached to the procedure.

Real-Life Success Stories: Patients Who Overcame Presbyopia with LASIK

Real-life success stories showcase how LASIK has helped patients overcome presbyopia and regain their reading vision without needing glasses. Patients with LASIK for presbyopia have experienced increased convenience, freedom, and improved quality of life.

For more inspiring stories of patients who have successfully overcome presbyopia with LASIK, visit the American Refractive Surgery Council website at


In conclusion, LASIK is typically not the ideal solution for correcting presbyopia and eliminating the need for reading glasses. While monovision LASIK, where one eye is corrected for distance and the other for reading, can be effective, it does come with limitations, such as reduced depth perception and the need for glasses in some lighting conditions.

Other options like refractive lens exchange or multifocal contact lenses, may provide better results with fewer side effects for most patients with presbyopia. Even with newer laser presbyopia correction procedures, long-term outcomes are still being evaluated.

Unless considering monovision, individuals are generally better off managing presbyopia with reading glasses or other non-surgical solutions. While LASIK may seem like an attractive way to ditch reading glasses, the risks often outweigh the benefits except in limited cases.

An honest discussion with an eye surgeon can help manage expectations and determine if other treatment paths would yield a better visual quality of life. In the end, preserving natural eye health and function should be the top priority over attempting to reverse the inevitable effects of aging eyes through current refractive surgery options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get LASIK for reading?

Yes, LASIK can help you get rid of your reading glasses! However, there may be better refractive surgery options available nowadays.

Does LASIK Monovision work for reading?

Monovision LASIK is a specialized technique in LASIK surgery that works by correcting one eye for distance vision and the other eye for near vision. Most patients who choose Monovision report satisfaction with both near and far vision without glasses, although a small percentage of patients have experienced some trade-offs. Therefore, it can be concluded that Monovision LASIK does work for reading.

What are the disadvantages of monovision?

Monovision has several disadvantages, such as reduced distance vision, blurred intermediate vision, decreased depth perception, and poorer night driving.

Can LASIK completely cure presbyopia?

Unfortunately, LASIK cannot completely cure presbyopia as it is limited to reshaping the cornea and does not restore the lens’ ability to focus on close objects.

What are the differences between Monovision LASIK, Multifocal LASIK, and Blended Vision LASIK?

Monovision LASIK corrects one eye for distance vision and the other for near vision, while Multifocal LASIK creates multiple focal points on the cornea and Blended Vision LASIK combines the benefits of both for a complete range of focus.


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Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

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