Field emission displays can be seriously limited by the rapid current degradation of Mo field emitter arrays primarily due to poor vacuum conditions inside their thin vacuum packages. There have been a number of studies to understand the interaction mechanisms. However, we find that models that have been proposed so far are not consistent with observed device behavior in a variety of gas ambients including inert gases and hydrogen. In this paper, we present a summary of our results on residual gases inside a large number of field emission displays, and the effects of these gases on emission behavior. We describe how these issues and the inter-electrode spacing leading to local pressure buildup impact device life. We present an alternate model based on shallow ion implant to explain the observed device behavior.