LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: Weighing Your Options
We are lucky to live in a time of options.
We can choose where we want to live and work, there are restaurants where we build our own gourmet pizzas, and the list of things Starbucks is doing with our espressos keeps getting longer.
The wealth of options – while certainly something to be thankful for – can be overwhelming. The plethora of choices can leave us stumped as to what we actually want, what is actually the best option.
In the world of optometry and ophthalmology there are many options for treating poor eyesight, from glasses to contacts to laser vision correction. Unlike the situation described above, however, it’s become more and more clear that there is a best option.
Laser eye surgery is most patients’ best bet for long-term correction of refractive errors, comfort, and ongoing health, especially in contrast to contact lens wear.
LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: Safety
Unlike glasses and contacts, LASIK and other laser eye surgeries don’t interrupt a patient’s day to day life. After a brief healing period, it’s back to business as usual, but without all the baggage of contacts and glasses. Many of our patients say that one of the greatest realizations after having LASIK is that they are able to see the clock on the bedside table. It’s those little moments, added up over a lifetime, that amount to laser vision correction’s greatest value: once it’s happened, it’s gone. You never have to think about it again; you just see.
Aside from the convenience, laser vision correction is a safer alternative to long-term contact lens wear. While some may still believe that wearing contact lenses is safer than LASIK, the numbers show that is simply untrue.
Several studies comparing the risks of complications from long term contact lens wear and LASIK conclude that LASIK patients have a far lower chance of developing potentially dangerous infections than patients in contact lenses.
Ophthalmologist William Mathers, MD and colleagues calculated the chances of contact lens wearers and LASIK patients for developing conditions that may lead to vision loss. What Dr. Mathers found was that the chances of a patient in contact lenses developing such a condition was 1 in 100, with the chance of losing vision as a result at 1 in 2000. In contrast, Dr. Mathers and his team concluded that LASIK patients’ chance for significant vision loss as a result of their surgery was only 1 in 10,000. You can learn more about the study and its findings here.
For some contact lens wearers, these numbers may be hard to believe.
While improper contact lens care is the leading cause of eye infections among this group, the hard truth is that even doing everything by the book doesn’t protect one from getting an infection due to their contact lenses.
Add up a lifetime of solution, cases, reaching for your glasses, torn contacts and scratched lenses, backup glasses, and the minutes spent putting in and taking out your contacts. Then add the risk of infection. Now compare that to one surgery, one recovery, and then – clear sight, at all hours of the day and night. Nothing to carry, nothing to reach for, nothing to get damaged or lost. Subtract most of the risk for infection. Doesn’t it seem clear, which option is better for your health and your lifestyle?
LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: Patient Satisfaction
One recent study, led by Francis Price Jr. MD of Price Vision Group, Indianapolis, shows that LASIK patients and contact lens wearers are both generally satisfied with their chosen treatments.
448 LASIK patients surveyed for the study had worn contact lenses before they had their surgeries. Dr. Price and his colleagues reported that 96% of that group reported believing that LASIK was a better option for them than contact lenses had been.
Those numbers don’t lie.