January 9, 2022 | Cataracts, Lasik

What To Know About A Lasik Touch Up After Cataract Surgery

By Barrett Eubanks, M.D.

What To Know About A Lasik Touch Up After Cataract Surgery

What happens if you need a lasik touchup after cataract surgery? Is it even possible? Even though cataract surgery has gotten very modern and precise, there are still times when lasik can improve the results.

A lasik touchup after cataract surgery can be used to correct any residual prescription or astigmatism. A laser treatment can also be used in in some cases to improve reading vision after cataract surgery.

Lasik has become a very safe and effective way to correct vision. While the vast majority of people after cataract surgery won't need lasik afterwards, it can be done and it can improve the results of cataract surgery.

Why would someone need a lasik touchup after cataract surgery?

After cataract surgery, your prescription changes. The new artificial lens that the surgeon places in the eye corrects your vision. Cataract surgery has become very accurate. Calculations of the curvature of your cornea, the length of your eye and a few other factors help predict the power of this new artificial lens. But nothing can be known for sure until this new lens is placed in the eye and your prescription measured afterwards.

Despite using the best equipment and the best calculations, accuracy after cataract surgery is NOT 100%. There will be some patients after cataract surgery that have some residual prescription.

With a standard lens, this extra prescription isn't typically an issue. A pair of progressive glasses is easily able to correct this extra prescription and give good vision.

But during cataract surgery, there are premium lens options that are designed to get people out of glasses. A toric lens can be used to correct astigmatism. Multifocal or lifestyle lenses can be used to provide simultaneous distance and reading vision. If these lenses end up off target and there is remaining prescription or astigmatism, glasses aren't going to be the ideal way to correct their vision (because these patients want to get out of glasses).

This is where lasik enters the picture.

What is lasik?

Lasik is a very common procedure to correct vision which uses lasers to reshape and remodel the cornea. Lasik is very quick and precise with a rapid recovery time.

Lasik doesn't work if you have cataracts; Lasik depends on the eye being healthy to correct vision. But once cataracts are removed, lasik becomes a great option to correct any remaining prescription. The quickness and ease of lasik combined with its accuracy make it an ideal way to correct vision after cataract surgery.

In addition, lasik can also be used to shift the prescription after cataract surgery. Perhaps you had your distance vision corrected with cataract surgery but realize that you prefer to see up close instead. Perhaps you decide afterwards that you want to set up monovision with your eyes and correct one eye for distance and one eye for up close. Lasik can do all of this. Lasik is very flexible in shifting the prescription of the eyes to exactly where you need / want the prescription to be.

In addition, lasik doesn't interfere with the cataract surgery or the artificial lens in any way. It works completely independently.

When can it be performed?

After cataract surgery, it is important to allow everything to heal up first. The new artificial lens placed during cataract surgery has to stabilize. Until this occurs, the prescription within your eye can actually fluctuate a little. A changing prescription isn't the best prescription to treat with lasik.

Because of this, frequently you must wait at least 3 months before considering a lasik touch up after cataract surgery. It's all about waiting for the prescription to stabilize. This leads to the best results.

Prior to a lasik touch up, your surgeon may also work to treat excess dry eye on the surface of the eye. Dry eye can muddle accurate measurements of the prescription of your eye. The best way to do a lasik tune up is to get as accurate prescription measurements as possible.

In addition, everyone will have some short term dry eye after lasik. To improve the recovery after lasik, it's best to go into the procedure having as minimal dry eye symptoms as possible.

There is no upper limit to how long you can wait to have a lasik touch up after cataract surgery. But it's often better to get the procedure sooner rather than later. Your surgeon may only cover a lasik tune up within a certain window after your cataract surgery.

Is lasik the only option for a tune up?

Lasik isn't the only option to tune up your prescription after cataract surgery.

The new artificial lenses placed during cataract surgery changed your prescription. It is possible to swap out that artificial lens for a new one with a different prescription. This can fix any residual prescription or any residual prescription. (in fact, sometimes correcting small amounts of astigmatism just involves rotating the existing artificial lens to a new or correct direction)

Exchanging the artificial lens involves a second surgery where the surgeon cuts out the old lens and then places the new lens. The advantage of this approach is that you avoid causing any change to the cornea. But swapping out the intraocular lens is a much more technically challenging operation. There is a greater chance of complication with this procedure. The scaffold for the artificial lens (called the capsule and zonules) can break reducing the chance of having a premium lens option. The longer you are from the surgery, the more difficult this operation becomes. Thus, this surgery is more often reserved for cases in which a lasik touch-up can't be performed.


If your vision isn't as clear as you desire after cataract surgery and you want to be glasses-free, a lasik touch up can be a great option to eliminate any residual prescription or astigmatism error to give you your best vision. Lasik can also be used to shift prescription to focus on distance or reading to set up (or reverse) monovision correction with your eyes. It's a versatile tool that works well after cataract surgery.

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