Is Wearing Contacts More Dangerous than Laser Eye Surgery?

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Data analysis shows that long-term contact lens wearers are more at risk of corneal infection than LASIK patients after five years.You’ve likely heard the horror stories of contact lens wearers who left them in for too long and subsequently damaged their vision trying to extract it. You’ve probably also heard the horror stories and myths about rare LASIK complications. The debate about whether contact lenses or laser eye surgery is safer goes back and forth. But, a new statistical analysis has discovered that wearing contact lenses long-term puts you at a higher risk of developing a corneal infection (microbial keratitis) than laser eye surgery does. While LASIK does carry a small risk of infection, it’s a one-time risk that’s abated when your eye recovers. However, contact lens wearers, especially those who sleep in their contacts, are constantly at risk of developing this potentially sight-threatening infection.

The analysis was published in the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, and it compared the number of patients who wore extended-wear lenses and developed an infection with the number of LASIK patients who had an infection following surgery. They discovered that the incidence of microbial keratitis in the first year after LASIK surgery was on par with the number of contact lens wearers, but after five years, patients who wore contacts were three times more likely to develop the corneal infection. When analysts compared the number of soft contact lens wearers to those who wore extended use contacts, the incidence of microbial keratitis was even higher still.

LASIK is not without risk. For example, dry eye is a common side effect following laser eye surgery, but microbial keratitis can lead to irreversible vision loss. In that aspect, LASIK could be considered safer than wearing contact lenses long-term.

If you’re interested in LASIK or have questions about laser eye surgery, please contact our eye doctor in Chicago today at 630-724-1400 to schedule your LASIK consultation. Foulkes Vision serves patients in Lombard and Chicago, Illinois.