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Is Laser Eye Surgery Safer than Contacts? What You Should Know

Is Laser Eye Surgery Safer than Contacts? What You Should Know

Author: Dr. William Tullo
May 13, 2014

Did you know the risks of contact lenses might outweigh those of laser eye surgery? Recent studies suggest this is so.

Vision loss associated with contact lenses pose a greater risk than laser eye surgery, according to Oregon Health and Science University researchers.

The researchers found that the risk for vision loss with refractive surgery may be lower than that with a lifetime of contact lens use. The risk of vision loss was highest in patient who wore extended wear contact lenses (slept with their contact lenses).

Low risk associated with laser eye surgery and contacts

It’s important to note that this research does not suggest either contacts or laser eye surgery are risky. In fact, it highlights how safe both are. The widespread use of contact lenses illustrates people’s willingness to correct vision while accepting some risk of vision loss, a risk that may be higher than those of laser eye surgery.

Laser eye surgery is a relatively less risky procedure, this study suggests. Thanks to technology advances—such as faster lasers, all blade-free laser eye surgery, more skilled surgeons, better patient screening and a number of related improvements—laser eye surgery has never been as safe as it is today.

By design, contact lenses are foreign objects requiring finger touching to insert in the eye. This introduces a possibility of infection not seen with glasses.

Reducing your risks with vision correction

If you currently wear contacts, follow these measures to reduce risk of infection:

  • Wear your lenses exactly as prescribed
  • Do not reuse contact lens solution
  • Do not clean your contacts with anything other than solution (e.g., no tap water, bottled water, distilled water, lake water)
  • Rinse your contacts exactly as recommended by your eye doctor
  • Don’t sleep in your contact lenses
  • Replace your contact lens case regularly

To reduce the already low risk of laser eye surgery, follow these steps:

  • Pick the most experienced surgeon you can find
  • Pick a surgeon who uses only the latest technology
  • Don’t let cost be your primary factor in selecting a provider
  • Tell your laser eye surgery provider all of your medical history, even if you think it’s not relevant
  • Follow all follow-up care exactly as the doctor prescribes

Learn how the lifetime cost of contact lenses compares to the one-time cost of laser eye surgery.


The information on this site is meant to complement and not replace any advice or information from an eye care or health professional. This website is sponsored by Health Care Marketing Services, LLC, a marketing company under the common ownership of The LASIK Vision Institute, LLC and TLC Laser Eye Care Centers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.