Which is Safer, Contact Lenses or LASIK?
Author: Dr. Scott Grealish
The answer is…
Contrary to popular belief, the answer for most people is Lasik. That’s not to say that contacts are particularly dangerous. When properly fit and worn they have been used by millions for decades with great success. That’s not news, but the revelation is that Lasik is in fact much safer than commonly perceived.
As always, a careful look at the numbers gives us the answer. Almost 15 million Lasik surgeries have been done over the past 20 years. Over 35 million wear contacts in the US alone, and they’ve been around since the 60’s. So at this point we know the statistics for risk of both very well, in fact there are literally thousands of scientific articles on the subject.
Recently, a very clever article written right here in Portland at my alma mater, the Casey Eye Institute, showed that the lifetime risk of serious vision loss was 3 ½ times greater for contact lens wearers than patients who had received Lasik.
Contacts are still very safe!
Now before you go and throw your contacts away and dig out those old glasses, realize that people themselves have a lot of control over their own chances of getting an infection, which was the main problem causing vision loss for contact lens wearers. It’s simple really:
- Get fit by a contact lens specialist (check the credential of ours!)
- Use them exactly as prescribed (most people don’t)
- Don’t sleep in your contacts (really)
- Take them out and call your doctor ASAP if you have trouble (we’re on call 24/7)
Lasik is very safe!
Now for those who are still worried about the risks of Lasik, the reality is people have a lot of control over their risk with Lasik as well, since almost all Lasik problems (and they are rare these days) can either be avoided or resolved if you are in the right place and your surgeon is there for you. Again, it’s pretty simple:
- Go to an established clinic with a long track record of success.
- Make sure your surgeon actually practices in Portland (many fly into town just for the day of surgery, then leave!)
- Ask them for their exact results and compare them to the best you can find. (check out the Visx FDA data)
- Remember that in marketing (including Lasik ads etc.) they say “Perception is Reality”. I say that in Lasik, “ Results are Reality”.
Which is right for you?
So in the end, does it really matter if Lasik is 3 ½ times safer than contacts? For most people they are both so safe that with good decision making it would be hard to go wrong with either. At EyeHealth Northwest, we think the safest policy is to educate our patients on all their options and to provide those services at the highest level possible. We back that up with accessibility anytime, anywhere in Portland since 1954. Visit one of our specialists to get the best advice on what’s right for your eyes.