Oculase Articles

Contacts or Laser Eye Surgery? How to choose

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 6 Mar 2021

We offer many methods to correct visual impairments, such as refractive errors. People often ask which is the best option: glasses, contact lenses, or laser eye surgery. 

It can be a hard decision as there are many factors to consider. Our blog covers these factors in detail. Keep reading if you struggle to decide between contacts or laser eye surgery.

 

Correcting your vision

Over half the population require vision correction for problems such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism or presbyopia. Many regularly wear glasses or contact lenses and may have considered or had laser eye surgery. Below we discuss the basics of contacts and laser eye surgery.

Contact lenses

Contacts can be a practical alternative to glasses. You place them in your eyes with clean hands and can forget about them until you need to remove them. Common options include soft, extended-wear soft, and hard lenses. They allow more freedom of movement and look more natural than glasses. 

However, contact lenses carry their own set of risks, for example, scratching your eye (corneal abrasion). Read our blog to learn more: Contact Lens: Risks, Side-effects & Alternatives.

Laser eye surgery

We offer many laser eye surgery options, including LASIK, LASEK, SMILE, and PRK. Depending on the complexity of your condition or your personal preferences, we may recommend a specific type.

Laser eye surgery, or laser vision correction, involves using advanced laser technology to correct your vision. It offers a more permanent solution to your eye problems than glasses or contacts and can be more convenient. Though, there are also side effects and risks to consider. We discuss these in our blog – Is laser vision correction surgery safe?

Contacts or Laser Eye Surgery

Things to consider

If you’ve had contact lenses or glasses for a while, you may think about the benefits of laser eye surgery. To come to a confident conclusion, read the following aspects.

Age

Contact lenses are usually suitable from around 12 years old. But, you’ll need to wait until you are over 18 for laser eye surgery.

After the age of 45, most people develop a condition called presbyopia. PresbyLASIK or LASIK with monovision, where we correct one eye for distance and the other for reading, is the perfect solution for presbyopic eyes.

Your lifestyle

Glasses and contacts can be inconvenient if you lead an active lifestyle or spend a lot of time outdoors. They could fall off or out your eyes and impact your ability to continue your current task or activity. Both are also easy to lose.

Laser eye surgery allows you to perform various activities without worrying about the above issues. For this reason, we often recommend laser surgery if you lead a busy or active lifestyle.

Cost

In the short term, contact lenses are cheaper than laser eye surgery. Though, the average spend on contact lenses over ten years is approximately £3,600. This increases to £5,000 when using glasses for taking breaks, which is what we recommend when using contact lenses. If you lose your glasses or contacts, they can also be expensive to replace.

We recognise that laser eye surgery can include an expensive immediate sum. Though, we offer the option of finance at Oculase – over ten months – giving you greater flexibility to spread out the cost. In the long term, laser eye surgery can work out cheaper as it is often a one-time cost. Though, some patients do require further procedures later in their life.

Comfort

Some people don’t like placing their finger in or close to their eye, which can put them off contact lenses. Others are wary of eye surgery due to similar reasons. While possibly unnerving initially, most people adjust to putting their contacts in. 

After laser eye surgery, you may have some discomfort, though this is temporary. For more information, read our blog: Does laser eye surgery hurt?

Another aspect to consider is eye strain. Laser eye surgery can treat the condition causing eye strain, meaning you are less likely to experience it. Though, you are likely to experience eye strain at some point with contacts and glasses.

Infection risk

The risk of developing an infection with five years of extended wear contact lens use is 17 times more than having laser eye surgery. This same study found the risk increases by 34 times with ten years of contact lens use. Once your eyes have healed with laser eye surgery, you can avoid the risk of infection.

 

Am I unsuitable for contacts or laser eye surgery?

As we’ve mentioned, many factors influence your choice to correct your vision. So, how do you choose? First, you’ll need a thorough consultation and assessment process to determine your needs and suitability for each option.

Suitability for contacts

Most people can wear contact lenses with few potential issues, but they may not be a good option for everyone.

Contacts may not be suitable if you:

  • Cannot tolerate contact lenses
  • Have had multiple eye infections
  • Experience severe allergic reactions
  • Need special lenses due to a unique prescription
  • Suffer from eye lubrication problems, such as dry eyes
  • Are regularly around large amounts of dust, dirt or smoke

Suitability for laser eye surgery

Some people unsuitable for contact lenses can have laser eye surgery. Others find that their options are more limited.

Laser eye surgery may not be suitable if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Aren’t over 18
  • Have a thin or irregular cornea
  • Do not have a stable prescription
  • Experience severe eye lubrication issues

However, if you have dry eyes, thin corneas, or a high prescription, you may be suitable for ICL surgery. Our ophthalmologist can explain this further.

If you have high blood pressure, we recommend managing this before getting laser eye surgery. Our eye specialist will discuss which aspects of your condition or problem you’ll need to consider when making your decision. 

You may also benefit from reading our blog: Do you need vision correction surgery? Within it, we discuss the risks of laser eye surgery and lens surgery as an alternative.

 

Book an appointment

Our Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Mr Ayoub, will discuss all your options with you so you can make an informed decision. After a thorough consultation and necessary assessments, we can tailor your treatment to your needs and preferences.

If you wish to discuss laser eye surgery or evaluate your options, book a consultation with our private ophthalmologist.

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About the author

Mr Tariq Ayoub
Mr Tariq Ayoub, Consultant Ophthalmologist

Mr Ayoub has been rated as one of the top eye surgeons in the UK. He is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon in London, based at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, where he is also the Lead for the Emergency Department at Western Eye Hospital.

0330 128 1616

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