LASIK surgery and contact lenses are both intended to correct vision problems. LASIK is designed to, at the very least, minimize the need for contacts (and glasses). For years it was assumed laser eye surgery was riskier than wearing contacts. That assumption suggests otherwise based on a study conducted by the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. The study compared the risk of complications from both – how often contact lens wearers had some vision loss versus those who had LASIK.

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Risk of Vision Loss (Contact Lens Wearers): Two primary risk factors for eye infections were studied in those who wore daily contacts for 30 years. Risk of bacterial keratitis was 1 in 100. Risk for Acanthamoeba keratitis was approximately 1 in 1,000. The risk of losing some vision was similar for both infections: approximately 1 in 2,000.

Risk of Vision Loss (LASIK Patients): A similar study of more than 16,000 soldiers and nearly 32,000 procedures was reviewed. The study also reviewed 18,000 procedures performed at Casey Eye Institute over a 10-year period. In the soldiers’ study, vision loss was less than contact lens infections in 1 surgery in approximately every 1,250 people. Of the 18,000 Casey procedures, no patient lost more than about 2 lines difference on a standard eye chart.

Which Is Better? The study suggests that LASIK surgery doesn’t carry the higher risk over contact lenses many have assumed. While there is always risk, this further confirms that risk is minimal. Where contact lens complications develop over time, LASIK complications are often evident soon after surgery.

If you’re considering LASIK surgery in metro Dallas / Fort Worth, or anywhere, do your own study. Ask your doctor about his or her surgical outcomes. A quality, reputable surgeon will be up front with you, and thoroughly make sure nothing about your eye health and overall health will put you at a higher risk.