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Clear Vision: Is LASIK Eye Surgery Safer Than Contacts?

March 13, 2012

LASIK Eye Surgery vs Contacts

New studies show that LAISK may be safer than contacts in the long run.

When it comes to improving the clarity and the accuracy of your vision, there has always been a long standing debate in the optical world about which is better, contacts or LASIK. For those who are just looking for slight assistance in the eyesight department, contacts may seem like the way to go. However, if you are someone who has been a long-time sufferer of nearsightedness or astigmatism, LASIK may be the answer to your problem once and for all.

LASIK eye surgery vs CataractsNo matter which side you decide to take, there is always going to be a debate between LASIK and contacts as two helpful (and competing) vision aids. However, more and more studies are beginning to be published which are shedding light on just how beneficial LASIK can be over contacts in the long term.

One of the biggest arguments for contact lenses in the last few years was the fact that it is cheaper than undergoing LASIK surgery. And, when you compare the prices initially, that may seem correct. However, what many people do not realize is that contacts are a monthly, and sometimes even weekly purchase for most. That doesn’t even count the cost for annual doctor’s appointments to renew prescriptions and make sure you have the best lenses. Over the next 5 to 10 years, one could easily spend more money on contact lenses, solutions, and glasses than on LASIK surgery.

However, this is not the only LASIK surgery vs. contacts myth that is being debunked. Another key reason why many people opt not to have LASIK surgery is because they believe it is more dangerous than simply putting in contact lenses. However, what many people don’t realize is that contact lenses are not risk-free. Here is a little more information about the risks of contacts vs. the risks of LASIK surgery:

Risks That Come With Contacts

  • Regular contact wear puts one at risk for a possible vision problem. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology in October 2006 found that people who wear daily contact lenses run a 1 in 100 risk of developing bacterial keratitis, an infection that can lead to vision loss. However, less than one in 10,000 patients risk significant vision impairment due to complications from LASIK.
  • The ever-present eye infection that is common among children could pop up in your adulthood due to contact lens wear — Pink Eye, or Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis. This occurs because of a constant pressure on the eye due to wearing hard/rigid contacts and from not replacing your contacts enough (how long you can go without replacing your contacts is different with each type/brand of contacts; be sure to ask your eye doctor).
  • Leading eye doctors also report that contact lens wearers are actually more likely to develop other complications such as corneal inflammations, irregularities, allergies, and contact lens intolerance.

Risks That Come With LASIK

LASIK eye surgery was originally linked to a few different risks and side effects when it was first introduced a few decades ago.  Many of these risks have now diminished due to improved screening and treatment technologies, but there are some minor problems that can occur:

  • Halos, glare, or double vision occurs usually at nighttime for those who have already had LASIK done; what it looks like for instance, is a glare on a headlight of a car on the opposite side of the road. Your eyes are measured in standard testing conditions, and not at nighttime so this is a problem that occurs for some LASIK patients.
  • Dry eyes are another thing that can occur after having LASIK. Dry eyes usually occur during the first 6 months post-surgery so many will buy lubricating eye drops to help. If the dryness seems unbearable you might need to consult your eye doctor about having another surgical procedure to put plugs in your tear ducts.
  • Overcorrections and undercorrections occur during the surgery when too much (overcorrection) or too little (undercorrection) tissue is removed from the eye. This will affect the overall vision of the patient. When comes to undercorrections, you might be able to have surgery done to remove more tissue, but overcorrections are usually more difficult to fix.

As laser vision correction technology continues to evolve, these risks continue to diminish.  With the introduction of the Wavefront Guided LASIK several years ago, we are now able to customize the procedure for each patient.  Custom LASIK can now provide better, more accurate vision, while also reducing night glare, one of the common early complaints of LASIK patients.

If you are interested in learning more about the many benefits that come with LASIK eye surgery, or you would like to know if you qualify for this beneficial procedure, be sure to sign up for OCLI’s free vision consultation today.


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