If you’re a contact lens wearer considering LASIK surgery, there are many factors to contemplate. Until recently, doctors and patients thought that LASIK might be riskier than contacts, but this is no longer the case. We suggest considering the pros and cons of each prior to scheduling laser eye surgery or switching from glasses to contacts.
The Pros of Contact Lenses
Of course, the biggest “pro” to wearing contact lenses is that no surgery is needed and contact lenses are less expensive up front. For some patients, contact lenses may provide a higher level of comfort (although this is not always the case – see below) and allow for sharper vision when compared to eye glasses, especially when it comes to peripheral vision (which is important for activities like driving and sports).
With contacts, there is no weight or glare. They also don’t fog up, which means little to no distraction during sports or other activities. Some feel that glasses can detract from one’s natural appearance, which contact lenses obviously do not do.
Gas permeable, or “hard” contact lenses hold their shape well and can correct astigmatism better than soft contact lenses. Extended-wear contact lenses can be worn for up to 30 days at a time and offer convenience and little hassle, while daily disposable lenses offer lens wearers peace of mind and ability to have new and clean lenses every day.
The Cons of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can be expensive long-term. Over a 10-year period, costs for care and replacement of lenses can range from $3,000-$6,000. In addition, lenses tend to become inconvenient over time as they require constant cleaning and disinfection. All contact lenses must be checked on a regular basis and require annual exams. Each year more soft contact lenses need to be purchased and some gas permeable, or “hard” lenses can warp over time, which means they must be frequently replaced.
Some patients find contacts more comfortable than glasses, but for many patients the opposite is true. In fact, chronic contact lens discomfort is one of the main reasons patients choose to have LASIK done. Contacts can cause eye irritation and dry eye, especially for computer users. Though uncommon, contacts can also put you at risk of developing corneal ulcers (open sores in the outer layer of the cornea) and eye infections, which can develop quickly and cause severe eye damage. It is imperative to practice proper hygiene when using contact lenses including washing hands, using store-bought, sterile solution, removing lenses prior to sleeping, and replacing lens cases frequently.
The Pros of LASIK
LASIK, or Laser in-situ Keratomileusis, is the most commonly performed refractive eye surgery in the U.S. Where earlier forms of LASIK only corrected nearsightedness, the modern procedure also corrects farsightedness and astigmatism. Once LASIK is completed, vision improves dramatically, usually by the next day, and vision improvement is long-term and stable.
The procedure is convenient, quick and virtually painless, and patients can return to normal activity within hours. Activities like swimming, hiking, and sports instantly become hassle and worry-free since patients are no longer concerned about contacts or eyeglasses.
Though LASIK requires an up-front investment, you would save thousands of dollars over time since you’d no longer need corrective lenses and supplies.
The Cons of LASIK
There is initial upfront expense with LASIK versus contacts, but the cost of contact lenses, contact lens supplies and doctor’s visits can far exceed the cost of LASIK over one’s lifetime. To assist with this, we offer flexible payment plans and interest fee financing for eligible patients.
The most common risks associated with LASIK surgery are under or over correction, dry eyes , and glare or haloes at night. However, many of these problems are only temporary and are not consider true “complications.” True complications resulting in permanent vision loss are extemely rare and there has been no case of blindness reported in the United States. In fact, because of built-in safety measures and high tech, constantly improving technology, LASIK is considered one of the safest surgeries performed today.