Contact Lenses and LASIK Surgery: Giving Your Eyes a Breather Before LASIK

If you’re like most people who seek LASIK surgery for permanent vision correction, then you already use prescription glasses or contact lenses to correct your specific vision problem. While you’re probably quite comfortable with your contacts, your doctor will ask you to exclusively wear your eyeglasses during the weeks or months leading up to your surgery. It may seem harmless to wear your contact lenses every now and again for a nice night on the town or a vigorous physical activity, but it could impact the success of your surgery.

The importance of discontinuing contact lenses prior to LASIK

Contact lenses, regardless of the type and duration of wear, change aspects of your eyes that affect the assessment your doctor needs to perform a laser eye surgery. 

It is absolutely paramount your eyes are in their most natural state and shape before your doctor decides if you’re a good candidate for LASIK. That way, your eyes will not change after the surgery and negatively affect the results. 

Ways in which contact lenses influence your eyes

Because contact lenses physically interact with the surface of your eyes, they naturally influence them over time. 

Shape—contacts stay in place by suctioning to the surface of your eyes. With long term wear, the shape of your corneas is subject to change from this application of pressure. The degree to which your corneas change depends on the type of lenses you use. 

Hydration—the water level on the surface of your eye dictates physical characteristics of the tissue that makes up your corneas. This affects how the laser physically cuts and shapes the tissue. Contacts cover this tissue and change the moisture content of your eyes over time. 

Inflammation—contacts, although benefiting your vision, are perceived by your body as a foreign object. They elicit an immune response that causes slight irritation and swelling. This is part of the reason they take some time to adjust to initially. 

Upon removal, your eyes slowly revert back to their most natural state and your doctor will design the best plan for your surgery based on this. 

The amount of time leading up to your surgery

Two things determine how long you need to stop wearing your contacts before your consultation and surgery—the material of the lenses you wear and the length of time you’ve worn your contact lenses. 

For example, hard plastic contacts like gas permeable lenses change the shape of your eyes more so than soft lenses. As such, more time would be required for your eyes to get back to normal after wearing them. 

Regardless, you will likely have to stop use anywhere between two weeks and four months, but your doctor will determine this based on your individual situation. 

Contact use after LASIK surgery

95% of the time, LASIK surgery yields 20/20 or better vision, but there are times when laser vision correction is slight or entirely ineffective. With the exception of rare cases, wearing contact lenses after an unsuccessful surgery is possible, but you must let your eyes completely heal beforehand to avoid complications. 

Oftentimes, you will need to be refitted for contacts as your corneas will be a different shape following the LASIK procedure. You may also have to use eye drops during the beginning of use, because dry eye is a common post-surgery symptom. 

Ultimately, a successful surgery starts by listening to your eye doctor and letting your eyes get back to their most natural state and shape. Besides, wearing glasses for a few weeks is not such a bad price to pay for a lifetime of crisp vision. So get those eyes in shape! 

If you’d like to learn more about laser eye surgery, then use your VSP Individual Plan to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today. If you don’t have vision insurance, find out how VSP can help you save on your next eye exam or pair of glasses.