Using Contact Lenses after LASIK
Why might I need contacts after refractive surgery?
Like any medical procedure, LASIK and other vision correction surgeries come with possible side-effects and complications. While many patients will walk away with 20/20 or better vision and no adverse effects, others may experience under-correction, over-correction, halos, glare, starbursts, or blurred or distorted vision.
For some, these problems will be mild and tolerable, but others will find that these vision problems interfere with their daily activities. Oftentimes these complications can be lessened or fixed with an additional surgery (generally referred to as an "enhancement"), but for some patients with thin corneas or other issues, this will not be an option. They will need special contact lenses or glasses.
Why can't I use soft contacts or regular eyeglasses?
During refractive surgery, tissue is removed from the surface of the eye. This can result in irregularities in corneal surface, causing the complications described above.
Soft contacts conform to the shape of the eye and cannot smooth out these irregularities to correct the problems they cause. Similarly, while standard eyeglasses change how images reach the eye, they cannot correct for small variations and defects in the surface of the cornea.
Options after surgery
- Gas permeable (rigid) contact lenses:
When placed on the eye, rigid contacts keep their shape, and the space between the contact and the cornea is filled with tears. This pool of tears fills in the irregularities on the corneal surface, canceling-out their effects, and the smooth surface on the front of the contact acts optically as a replacement cornea. Because of this, gas permeable contacts are ideal for post-LASIK use. They are able to correct aberrations that soft contacts cannot.
However, these contacts will take some getting used to. They are not as comfortable to wear as soft contacts, and you may have to wear them part-time for several weeks before you get accustomed to them.
- Hybrid contact lenses:
SynergEyes hybrid contacts combine a rigid, gas permeable center with a soft outer skirt. They retain the aberration-correcting ability of the standard gas permeable lenses but with added comfort, and a shorter adjustment period.
- Wavefront glasses:
iZon High Resolution eyeglass lenses can be custom-designed for each patient, using wavefront technology to map the cornea. These special glasses can correct for irregular astigmatism and corneal irregularities as well as the usual refractive errors (nearsightedness and farsightedness).
See a specialist, and expect to pay a little more
A post-surgical contact lens fitting is not a simple task. Refractive surgery can drastically alter the shape of the cornea. Measurements will need to be taken, and special contact designs may be required. You will likely need to see a specialist, as your regular doctor may not have the necessary expertise or equipment. Such a fitting will also cost more than a standard one, since it is more time consuming for the physician. Your eye doctor should be able to refer you to someone who specializes in this area.
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