Though often considered to be the more liberating alternative to wearing glasses, contact lenses are not without their share of risks and discomfort. That’s because several factors, including poor hygiene and unsafe handling or storage can contribute to corneal changes or an aggravation of pre-existing conditions in the eye. As a result, more people than ever are ditching their contact lenses in favour of a safer, low-maintenance alternative: laser vision correction.
Although contact lenses appear to be an effective solution to poor vision, it is important to consider the facts when choosing a method of vision correction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States published a study in 2016 focusing on contact lens safety. The study determined that not using lenses as directed can result in some potentially dangerous eye conditions. The most common condition is keratitis, which is an inflammation of the eye. Keratitis poses a greater public health risk than most people realize: In 2010, over 700,000 people who wore contacts reported developing some form of keratitis. Of that number, 280,000 patients were diagnosed with corneal ulcers, an open sore that forms on the cornea, which is directly related to eye inflammation. If left untreated, keratitis can lead to more serious conditions—in some cases, blindness.
Risk of infection
According to a study published in UK medical journal The Lancet, daily contact lens wearers run a one in 100 risk of contracting a bacterial infection. However, only one in every 1,500 cases of laser vision correction results in inflammation. This means that contact lens wearers are 500 times more susceptible to infection than those who have had LASIK. In fact, LASIK is widely considered to be one of the safest elective procedures in medicine, delivering some of the highest levels of patient satisfaction.
A 2013 study that was recently published in the Journal of Ophthalmology determined that the average person spends approximately $75 to $100 a month on their contact lenses and contact lens solution, which can total anywhere from $9,000 to $24,000 over a decade. Laser vision correction, on the other hand, is a one-time expense—so you’ll save from no longer spending on glasses or contacts over your lifetime.
Plenty of upkeep
Contact lenses require daily maintenance with many steps involved. First, your hands must be washed before manipulating them so as to not transfer dirt and germs; once clean, your contacts must be rinsed off with the recommended solution. Then, they need to be safely placed in their storage case (which should be replaced at least once every three months to avoid contamination). However, the CDC study found that, instead of following these guidelines, a significant number of people have resorted to rinsing or storing their contact lenses in tap water, a sure-fire way of contaminating the contact lens, thereby harming the eye.
With contact lenses comes an array of other supplies: Fresh lens solution, a contact lens case and, more often than not, a spare pair too. The majority of contact lenses should not, under any circumstance, be worn to bed because wearing them while you sleep—even for brief periods—prevents oxygen from getting to the eye, thus leading to infection.
They’re easy to lose—and hard to find
A day at the lake. A concert or festival. A sightseeing trip. These experiences, and many others, are made better with clear vision. But if a contact lens happens to fall out in a crowd or on a water-skiing escapade, it can be frustrating to retrieve it or insert a new one. With LASIK, you get crisp, clear eyesight, and never need to worry about what to do in case one of your contact lenses should fall out at less-than-opportune moment.
Find out for yourself why more and more people are putting away their contact lenses and turning to laser vision correction instead. Book a free consultation today to find out if you’re a candidate for this exciting, life-changing procedure.