This is question that is often asked. But, there is no simple answer.
The LASIK flap does heal over time, but the wound healing occurs mainly at the flap edge and minimally in the area under the flap.
In a study conducted at Emory Eye Center, Emory University School of Medicine, the tensile strength of LASIK wounds was measured in 25 eye bank corneas from donors who had LASIK.(1)
The study found that the human cornea typically heals after LASIK in a limited and incomplete fashion, resulting in a weak scar under the flap that is on average 2.4% as strong as normal corneal stroma. On the other hand, the LASIK flap wound margin heals by producing a 10-fold stronger peripheral scar that is on average 28.1% as strong as normal corneal stroma.
This pattern of wound healing explains why LASIK surgeons can re-lift the LASIK flap with out complications, even years after it was originally created, to perform a LASIK re-treatment.
In conclusion we can say that the LASIK flap does heal over time, but it is never completely healed. However, you don’t need to worry, the flaps will not move with normal daily activities, and are only at risk with direct significant eye trauma. So if there is any risk that you might take a direct blow to the eye after LASIK, you should wear protective eyewear (e.g., protective goggles).
- Cohesive tensile strength of human LASIK wounds with histological, ultrastructural and clinical correlations. Journal of Refractive Surgery. Vol 21, No 5. Sep-Oct 2005.