Is LASIK Safer Than Contacts?
For many years, the safety concerning LASIK vs. contacts or vice versa has been the subject of numerous discussions amongst eye doctors. Neither are especially dangerous and the answer to this question is typically dependent on who you ask. We considered the research and spoke with Dr. Reza M. Mozayeni, our cornea specialist and LASIK eye surgeon as well as Dr. Vanessa Mills, our contact lens specialist.
LASIK vs. Contacts: Is LASIK Safer?
The simple answer to this is: it depends. As with any eye issue, many factors need to be considered. Contacts are a common and practical solution to nearsightedness or farsightedness. When contact lens regimens are followed in conjunction with good hygiene, the use of contacts can yield a positive experience that increases an individual’s quality of life. However, bad habits can quickly decrease these benefits.
Some bad habits that are commonly seen include:
- Sleeping in contacts (even those manufactured for 2-weeks of continuous wear cause unnecessary “wear & tear” on your corneas)
- Poor hygiene: not washing hands before inserting & removing contacts
- Reusing contacts that should have been disposed of
- Using tap water for lubrication and/or storage of contacts
- Recycling already used contact lens solution
- Not cleaning and/or replacing contact lens cases
Common conditions that result from the above bad habits can be:
- Infections requiring antibiotics and long-term management by an ophthalmologist
- Corneal ulcers
- Corneal Neovascularization, or blood vessels growing on the cornea due to lack of oxygen
- Corneal Kertatitis, or dryness and irritation to the corneal surface
Thankfully an infrequent complication, some patients may develop a serious central ulcer that cannot be treated with medication eye drops. These ulcers will ultimately require the individual to undergo a corneal transplant.
Contacts vs. LASIK: The Possibility of Eye Surgery
According to the CDC1, of the 30+ million Americans who currently wear contact lenses, between 40% and 90% claim to not follow prescribed directions.
There are many reasons that people fall into these bad contact lens habits:
- Lack of knowledge
- Not aware of the risks
- Financial concerns
Today, LASIK is considered to be extremely safe, especially when compared to bad contact lens wearing habits. The most important first step towards LASIK is receiving a thorough evaluation by a reputable surgeon, who will determine if you are an ideal LASIK candidate.
Secondly, do your research. This should include but not be limited to:
- Having more than one consultation
- Reading online reviews
- Asking friends and family their opinion
- Understand the specific technology that will be used during your procedure
- Meeting the LASIK eye surgeon before surgery day
- Understand your surgeon’s credentials and experience
The Casey Eye Institute2 stated that in regards to the LASIK vs. contacts debate, contact users experience a 3.5 times greater risk of developing serious vision loss within their lifetime when compared to those who have had LASIK eye surgery.
While neither contacts nor LASIK are particularly risky, you need to make the personal decision that is right for you. That may start with just educating yourself on the possibility of being free from contacts and/or glasses. Dr. Mozayeni at Providence Eye & Laser Specialists provides a complimentary LASIK consultation to each individual who desires corrective surgery in their own personal LASIK vs. contacts tug of war. If laser eye surgery is not right for you, Dr. Mills & Dr. Lee Raykovicz will be happy to provide with you the correct contacts and proper instructions you need to maintain healthy eyes.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health and Science University