By: Dr. Lori Travers
In 2019, it is often seen as the norm for people to wear contact lenses. The Center for Disease Control estimates that approximately 46 million Americans wear contact lenses. The agency (CDC) also reports that more than 80% of contact lens wearers reported at least one behavior that left them at risk for a serious eye infection! When the media and anti-Lasik professionals talk about LASIK surgery as an unnecessary procedure, they are discounting these 46 million contact lens wearers. They do not consider that contact lens wear considerably increases the risks of infections. This is true for every single contact lens wearer regardless of compliance with recommended care. We cannot ignore these types of eye infections. We commonly see various degrees of scarring of the cornea due to contact lenses which can affect your vision, or even worse, cause blindness.
With June arriving, summertime is an important time to be aware of the dangers of noncompliance with contact lenses. Certain water living amoebas, such as acanthamoeba, can cause permanent injury and vision loss. Acanthamoeba lives in tap water, pools, hot tubs and soil. 85% of acanthamoeba infections are in contact lens wearers. It is important to follow your physicians’ recommendations for lens care around these water sources to reduce your risk of infection. In my opinion, considering LASIK as opposed to contact lens wear is a great option to reduce your risk of these contact lens-related infections.
It isn’t only the risk of contact lens related infection that is often ignored when discussing LASIK as an option for vision correction. LASIK has been found to improve vision quality over contact lens wear.
A 3-year study was conducted and published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2016. The researchers wanted to know the perceived benefits of different types of visual correction amongst patients over a 3-year period. The results were staggering. LASIK outperformed both glasses and contact lenses in every studied category of satisfaction. 90% of LASIK patients recommended LASIK compared to just over 50% of contact lens wearers. Dryness, a common misconception about LASIK, actually improved for previous contact lens wearers. Nighttime driving improved as well. 97% of respondents stated that they agreed or strongly agreed that LASIK works better than their contact lenses.
My hope in writing this is to dispel some of the misconceptions that are disseminated about Lasik surgery in today’s sensationalized headlines. I believe that LASIK is a life-changing procedure (it was for me) for those who are good candidates. Every day, I help people alleviate the irritating ocular symptoms of wearing contact lenses. So many have no idea that it is the contact lenses themselves that are causing their symptoms. If you’d like to know if a LASIK procedure is right for you then request a free, no-obligation consult in my clinic and take the first step in leaving contact lenses behind.