If you’re a long time contact lens wearer, you understand the frustrations that come along with them. The constant cleaning and changing can wear you down, not to mention the upkeep can be expensive. Many people think that contact lenses are just as good, if not better than, LASIK surgery. Contact lenses don’t require a surgical procedure or recovery time, so they must be safer, right? And there’s no way they’re more expensive than LASIK… right? Not so fast!
Let’s discuss how choosing LASIK over contact lenses could actually make more sense.
What Is LASIK Surgery?
Let’s start at the beginning. LASIK surgery is a surgical procedure that aims to permanently correct common refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. LASIK surgery has a proven track record of being safe and effective, with the vast majority of patients achieving 20/20 vision or better.
The basic steps to LASIK surgery are as follows:
- Your surgeon creates a detailed map of your eye using wavefront technology. This makes your LASIK surgery completely custom, as your surgeon now knows exactly where to treat for the best results. Every eye is different!
- Your surgeon uses a femtosecond laser to create a thin, circular flap on the surface of the cornea. This flap is then moved back to expose the inner layers of the cornea for treatment. This step makes the surgery completely bladeless!
- Your surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, allowing for better light refraction. This is the step that makes your vision clear! Once the proper adjustments have been made (this typically only take a few seconds), the flap is smoothed over and your LASIK surgery is over!
LASIK offers patients permanent vision correction – that means waking up to clear vision in the morning and being able to go throughout their days worry-free (among other things).
How LASIK Compares to Contact Lenses – Which Makes More Sense?
LASIK surgery and contact lenses aim to achieve the same thing – clear vision. Those who grew up wearing glasses may welcome the added convenience and cosmetic improvements of contact lenses. But are contact lenses worth it when compared to LASIK surgery?
Safety: This is often the biggest factor in the LASIK vs. contact lens debate. Many people assume contact lenses are safer and come with less risk than LASIK. It may be surprising to hear that this is not necessarily true.
A 2006 study found that contact lenses carry a significant lifetime risk of vision loss from infection alone. In fact, 1 in 1,000 contact lens wearers will experience significant vision loss from bacterial or parasitic infections alone. This does not include the number of contact lens wearers that will have vision loss as a result of corneal scarring, scratches, blood vessel invasion, or fungal infection.
That’s not to say LASIK is without risk. As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection and complication. However, when LASIK is performed by an experienced surgeon who practices ethical LASIK candidacy screenings, and who operates with up-to-date technology, the risk is extremely low.
Following proper post-LASIK protocol (using medicated drops as recommended and avoiding certain activities until cleared by your doctor) greatly decreases your chance of risk. The risk of vision loss from LASIK presents a much shorter window than that of contact lenses, as LASIK and its recovery occur over a short time, whereas contact lenses are used over a lifetime.
Cost: Pricing is another huge factor when deciding between contact lenses and LASIK. Many people continue to pay for contact lenses each month because they assume it’s more frugal than LASIK surgery. However, this is not always the case.
Contact lenses can cost anywhere from $60-$100 a month on average. This is a cost that never stops occurring, as contact lens wearers need to restock on their supplies and change contact lenses often to keep their eyes healthy and their vision clear. Essentially, contact lens wearers are paying a monthly fee to “rent” their clear vision. Why not own your clear vision?
The price tag that comes with LASIK is steep, that’s no secret. However, when we look at that lifetime costs of LASIK vs. contact lenses, we find that LASIK surgery usually pays for itself within 15 to 20 years. As the price of eyeglasses increases, the same may be true for glasses wearers as well. Contact lenses and glasses are ongoing expenses, while LASIK is a one-time expense.
Do you have more questions about contact lenses vs. LASIK? We’d be happy to answer them for you! Contact Bellevue LASIK & Cataract in Bellevue or Monroe to schedule your LASIK consultation. At your consultation, one of our LASIK experts will examine your eyes to determine if you are a LASIK candidate, and you can ask all the questions you want. Call us or contact us online to schedule your LASIK consultation today!