Many people believe contact lenses offer a safer option than getting laser eye surgery, however doctors have raised arguments for and against on both sides.

While some people who experience weak eyesight are not eligible for contact lens use, there are also people who will experience undesirable side effects of having laser eye surgery. It’s important to weigh the positive and negative sides to each option.

Which Option Offers Better Visual Acuity?

The main debate is centered on which option offers better visual acuity. Both options run the risk of reducing your vision over time, but surgery runs a higher risk of overall permanent reduction of vision with reports stating 0.4% to 2% of all individuals who have undergone the procedure, or as many as 1 in 50 people, have experienced a loss in visual acuity.

Conversely, contact lenses also run the risk of reduced visual acuity, but a significantly lower risk with only 1 in 16,000 users, about 0.006%, experiencing a reduction in visual acuity. This is usually due to complications of contact lens wear, like improper cleaning and storage.

Reduced visual acuity is not the only undesirable side effect of laser eye surgery. Reports of undesirable glare, reduction in quality of night vision, and dry eye syndrome are just some of the risky side effects, and can be very frustrating to people who have invested in the surgery thinking it would be a painless and money saving investment. Some patients have also had to undergo expensive “enhancement” surgeries to achieve the excellent vision they were promised.

Will I Get an Eye Infection?

On the other hand, daily contact lens wearers have about a 1 in 100 chance of developing a serious lens-related eye infection over a 30-year span of use. About 1 in 2,000 people have the chance of suffering significant vision loss as a result of an eye infection.

It’s nearly impossible to weigh the risks and benefits of contact lens use and laser surgery because surgical complications are immediate and obvious, while the risks associated with contact lenses accumulate over many years of use and vary from person to person depending on their hygiene and contact lens care.

A common complaint after surgery is blurry-eyed vision or loss of vision over time, both of which need a corrective follow up surgery. Laser eye surgery is not a permanent solution for some, who experience short-sight vision after the surgery and still need to wear reading glasses even after the costly procedure. A common complaint from contact lenses users is itchy  eyes or irritable wear, but that is usually solved by trying different brands of lenses as they come in thousands of brands and qualities.

Patients should do their research before making a decision about laser eye surgery and be vigilant when reading the fine print on the brochures. Also, ask the operating doctor about his success rates. Similarly, if a person decides to wear contact lens, they should commit themselves to a hygienic routine – never sleep in contacts, wash hands before use, store in multi-purpose cleaning solution, and changing your contact lenses when they expire.

This is a Guest Post by Ashley Williamson. Ashley is an occasional blogger and an optometrist assistant currently writing on behalf of Lenses Online.


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