A clinical study published in the August issues of the medical journal Ophthalmology compared patient reported data from contact lens users and LASIK patients over a three-year period with study participants completing a survey about their vision and visual satisfaction each year. Historically, because LASIK is a surgical procedure, “there is a natural tendency to compare the outcomes with the best preoperative optically corrected vision and—for some patients—with their idea of vision in a hypothetical perfect eye.” For the first time, investigators compared LASIK outcomes directly with other forms of vision correction, namely contact lenses, to provide a more realistic depiction of LASIK performance. The results of this new approach, involving a large number of participants over a significant time period, were surprising.
The study, “Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses,” found that compared with contact lens wear, current LASIK technology resulted in higher levels of satisfaction and improved ease of night driving at 1, 2, and 3 years follow-up.”
Approximately 1,800 adults participated, with 694 remaining in contacts as the control group. The rest underwent LASIK. In those who chose LASIK, 819 (45%) wore contacts and 287 (16%) wore glasses prior to the procedure. Study participants (both those who stayed in contacts and those who underwent LASIK) were asked about their level of satisfaction with their vision and their experience with visual symptoms (dry eye, night driving issues). Results of the data collected from the surveys of satisfaction and visual symptoms were compared at the beginning of the study – prior to having LASIK for those choosing vision correction surgeries – and at the 1, 2 and 3-year mark.
Interestingly, the study found that, over time, strong visual satisfaction with the vision provided by contact lens use went down from 63 percent at the beginning of the study, to 54 percent among the control group of contact lens wearers. However, up to 88 percent of LASIK patients were strongly satisfied with their vision following the vision correction procedure. In addition, fewer LASIK patients who were formerly contact lens users reported issues with night time driving visual symptoms than those who stayed in contact lenses.
There was no significant difference in the experience of dry eye symptoms between those contact lens wearers that stayed in contacts and those that underwent LASIK. However, those LASIK patients who formerly wore glasses did report an increase in dry eye symptoms. This is consistent with glasses wearers that have tried and discontinued contact lenses due to underlying dry eye symptoms. In conclusion, this large-scale longitudinal study found current LASIK technology resulted in higher levels of satisfaction with vision, did not significantly increase dry eye symptoms, and reduced visual symptoms related to driving at night compared to contact lens use.