Contact lenses can be a good vision correction solution for many people, but wearers have to deal with the daily hassle of cleaning and disinfecting them to prevent eye infections and irritation. Which is why many people concerned about contact lens maintenance and infection risks turn to LASIK laser vision correction surgery – it’s maintenance-free once you’ve had the procedure and offers a lower risk of eye infections.
“In a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology a few years ago, sight-threatening infections from contact lens use occur in one in 2,000 contact lenses wearers, but only one in 10,000 patients risk significant vision loss due to complications from LASIK,” says Dr. Kerry Solomon, President of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and a member of the American Refractive Surgery Council.
New research of 1,232 contact lens wearers and 3,502 LASIK patients shows LASIK delivers better vision than contacts in the long run with results of 20/16 achieved by 81% of daily wear contact lens wearers with best correction versus 96% of LASIK patients without correction at 1 month after the procedure. In addition, according to Dr. Solomon, it’s a myth that contact lenses are convenient with a low risk of infection. In fact, they’re just the opposite. Here are some other myths versus facts about contact lenses:
Myth: Contact lenses are 100 percent safe.
Fact: A Lancet study showed that people who wear contact lenses daily run a one in 100 risk of developing bacterial infections, sometimes known as microbial keratitis. This infection can lead to a loss of vision. People who abuse contacts by wearing them overnight or improperly caring for them have an even greater risk.
Myth: You can sleep in your contacts.
Fact: Despite improvements in extended wear contact lenses, wearing them during sleep still carries a greater risk of complications than removing lenses daily. Exposure to smoke, wearing your contacts when swimming and previous eye irritations or infections are additional risk factors for extended wear contact lens complications.
Myth: Contact lenses are the right solution for active lifestyles.
Fact: Contacts can be a major hindrance to active lifestyles, especially if you play sports that involve sand, snow or dirt. Exposure to these elements can cause eye damage or infection.
Myth: It’s OK to wear contact lenses for water sports.
Fact: The FDA has not approved contact lenses for use in swimming, surfing or water sports, and in fact, warns people to avoid exposing their contacts to any water.
Myth: Contact lenses are fine for sports on land.
Fact: Contact lenses can cause problems with many sports, not just water sports. Skiers and snowboarders suffer from glare when wearing contacts. Hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers need to be concerned about dirt and dust contaminating their contacts – not to mention the need to carry contact lens products along with their other gear.
Myth: If I don’t have an active lifestyle, I’ll be fine with contacts.
Fact: There are many kinds of active lifestyles and not all of them involve sports. For example, mothers of young children are usually very active – and they may not have time to take proper care of their contacts.
Contact lenses are an extremely popular vision correction choice for many obvious reasons. However, if you find your contacts are no longer comfortable or no longer support your lifestyle it may be time to think about your vision correction options. Discussing your needs with your ophthalmologist, along with a thorough evaluation of your eye, can help you decide if LASIK could be a better option for your vision.