Is Laser Eye Surgery Safer than Contacts? What You Should KnowAuthor: 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