Eye Health Central

Contact Lenses vs Laser Eye Surgery

Laser Eye surgery

For people that need to wear corrective lenses, but don't want to deal with the hassle of wearing eyeglasses every day, there are two options left to pick from. Regular contact lenses work for many people, but for those looking for even more convenience, there are two viable options left. Extended wear contact lenses and laser eye surgery both provide means of clear vision, without the need for daily maintenance, each having its own advantages and disadvantages.

Contact Lenses or Eye Surgery Which Is The Best?

There is a strong argument for contact lenses and laser eye surgery as a convenient way to correct your vision, in this article we compare extended wear contact lenses as they are the ultimately convenient contact lens, only needing to be changed once a month and as they are worn overnight it means you can see clearly through the night, and first thing in the morning. Only you will be able to decide whether contact lenses or laser eye surgery is the best option for you but knowing the pros and cons of both may help you decide.

Health Risks Of Laser Eye Surgery and Extended Wear Lenses

For a large majority of patients, both extended-wear contacts and laser eye surgery are completely safe, but there is a small chance of complication, regardless of which you choose. Below are the risks you should be aware of if you're considering either option.

Extended Wear Contacts

As with any type of contact lens, there is a chance you may develop an infection in your eye. In fact, the risk is slightly higher with extended wear lenses than with standard soft lenses. Fortunately, silicone hydrogel contact lenses have been developed which allow five times as much oxygen through the lens and into your eye, helping to keep them healthy. If you've worn other types of contact lenses in the past and experienced frequent problems, it's likely you will have issues with extended wear contact lenses, as well. If there are any issues you can easily stop wearing lenses and see your Optometrist for alternate methods of vision correction.

Laser Eye Surgery

The success rate for laser eye surgery is incredibly high, according to a report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology,  worldwide an average of 95.4% of patients were satisfied with their outcome after LASIK surgery. As time passes, new technology only increases that number, and reduces the number of complications. Some examples of new technologies being used are femtosecond lasers, which can make smaller cuts and thinner corneal flaps, and eye tracking technology which helps compensate for eye movement during the procedure. There are even methods being developed that will allow people with unique optical imperfections to benefit from laser eye surgery. There are some patients, though, that experience glare, especially in low light environments, which can make it difficult to drive at night. Dry eyes are also a possible side effect, but one that can be corrected with moisturizing eye drops.

Effectiveness Of Extended Wear Lenses and Laser Eye Surgery

Each offers superior vision quality, but with another set of trade-offs. As before, the major differences between the two are listed below.

Extended Wear Contacts

As soon as you put the contact lens on your eye, you'll see a difference immediately. If there's any problem with the prescription or fit of the lens, you should talk to your Optometrist. As your eyes change over time, your prescription should be updated to match, including multifocal lenses that help to address presbyopia.

Laser Eye Surgery

It's a much more permanent solution, but the results are incomparable. Having 20/20 vision after laser eye surgery is common, and some people can achieve even better scores. The downside is that your eyes may still change over time, which means you may need to wear glasses in some situations, like while reading or driving at night. If the changes are drastic enough, a second laser surgery may be needed. Laser eye surgery can't treat presbyopia, which affects the muscles around the eye, not the lens. Monovision treatments may be an option, however. One eye is altered to focus clearly on distant objects, while the other eye is tuned to focus nearby.

Cost Of Laser Eye Surgery Compared To Extended Wear Contact Lenses

One of the biggest differences between extended wear contacts and laser eye surgery is cost. While laser surgery has a larger up-front price tag, the cost of contact lenses can add up over the years.

Extended Wear Contacts

Depending on the exact brand and your specific prescription, an annual supply of extended-wear contact lenses may cost between ₤175-₤225 per year. When compared to standard lenses, you'll have additional savings on the cost of lens care solution, since you won't be taking them out and storing them each night. You will still need a small bottle of multi-purpose solution, just in case. Over time, costs can add up.

Laser Eye Surgery

The cost for laser eye surgery can be somewhere between ₤1500-₤2000 per eye. That's a much larger up-front cost than contact lenses, but the results can potentially last a lifetime, saving you money in the long run. Some laser eye surgeons even offer payment plan options, so you can spread the cost out over time, making it more affordable. It's important to note that this doesn't eliminate 100% of eye care costs from your budget. Regular eye exams are still strongly recommended, and non-prescription sunglasses should be worn outdoors to protect from UV radiation. Some patients experience chronic dry eye after laser eye surgery, and eye drops will need to be purchased frequently.

How To Decide Between Contact Lenses And Laser Eye Surgery

Discuss with your eye care practitioner which option is best for you. There may be certain medical limitations that make one of these options a better fit for you. If not, the decision comes down to personal preference. You should consider all aspects of both options, including risk, convenience, flexibility, cost, and possible changes in your vision, especially if you're under the age of 40.
To find out more about the various eye surgery options such as LASIK, and SMILE you can check out online sites such as  Optimax, Zeiss etc, and speak to your Optometrist or your GP.

Can My Optometrist Perform Laser Eye Surgery?

As Lasik is a surgical procedure Optometrists cannot perform laser eye surgery only an Ophthalmologist can do that. 

If you are interested in Lasik then you discuss whether or not you’d be a good fit for a procedure like LASIK with your optometrist. After evaluating your specific condition and goals, your Optometrist will give you his/her expert recommendation and can recommend or refer you to a certified ophthalmologist. 

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 13 Jul 2016, Last modified: 20 May 2024