Choosing Between Contact Lenses and Surgery



People who are considering laser eye surgery usually first think about the option of continuing using contact lenses. Eye doctors will present both options to patients so that a well thought out final decision can be made. For some people LASIK and other surgical procedures may be a better choice than wearing contact lenses for the rest of their lives.

The common wisdom is that contact lenses are a safer, non-invasive alternative than corrective eye surgery. In actuality surgery might ultimately turn out to be less risky than relying on contact lenses, when certain factors are taken into account. However, as with any type of surgery, LASIK always has some level of risk of complications. Risks normally include dry eye, improper healing, and infections. Fortunately advances in technology, along with educated and prepared patients, have minimized the impact of these effects on patients.

contact lensesThe prolonged use of contact lenses also comes with risks including infection and even physical damage to the eye. Contact lenses need to be taken out and cleaned regularly due to the risk of infection. This is because bacteria can grow under the contact lens. In extreme cases, infections can result in vision loss. When contact lenses were first developed, people needed to remove them every night and place them in a special container designed to clean them.

There are contact lenses made from new materials which can be left in for up to 30 days. These innovative lenses are made from a silicone based material by companies such as Acuvue. Unlike earlier technologies, including plastic, this particular material permits oxygen to pass through the lens which, in essence, allows the eye to breathe. Ordinary lenses tend to restrict oxygen which makes it easier for infection to take root. The newer types of contact lenses are also more durable and very effective in providing improved vision, up to 20/20 for the majority of patients.

When it comes to cost, contact lenses allow you to spread the costs associated with vision improvement over many years. Eye surgery is not cheap and unless the surgery is financed, the one time expense is enormous compared to the small cost of replacing contact lenses regularly. Depending on the age of the patient, laser eye surgery could actually be more affordable over the long term.

The simplicity and effectiveness of contact lenses, along with the fact that many do not like the look of eyeglasses, are key reasons why millions of people rely on them each day. When used and maintained properly the risks can be mostly eliminated. For those who do not want to deal with changing contacts every thirty days, eye surgery becomes an even more attractive option.

Another crucial factor is the fact that a good number of individuals will not make it through the screening process that doctors use to qualify patients for surgery. The most important variable in the success of LASIK procedures is the initial qualification of the patient. Making sure that there are no pre-existing conditions known to cause serious problems reduces the danger of serious side effects and negative outcomes. If a person is a high risk for eye surgery, their best option may be contact lenses.

The prescription for contact lenses can easily be changed to deal with fluctuating vision. Conversely, over time as vision deteriorates, the LASIK patient that enjoyed initial success may encounter a situation where another surgical procedure is needed. It is quite common for people to develop age related presbyopia as they get older requiring stronger and stronger prescriptions. Even with the improved technology of modern laser eye surgery there is still a chance that deteriorating vision might eventually require additional procedures. Those weighing their options should take this into account.

Of course some people will just always seek to avoid any type of surgery, laser or otherwise, regardless of how popular it is or how safe it is presumed to be. It is highly recommended that people understand as much as they can about both sets of pros and cons by consulting with their eye doctor. You owe it to yourself to make the right decision. Remember that you can always try out contact lenses first to see if they work well for you. Once the surgery is done it can't be undone.




FDA Website for information on LASIK:

fda - US food and drug administration