Can I Wear Contact Lenses After LASIK?
Although the goal of LASIK usually is to fully correct a person's nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism and eliminate his or her dependence on eyeglasses and contact lenses, there are times when contacts may be needed or desired after LASIK surgery.
One example is a person who had a very high refractive error that was not fully corrected with LASIK, but a LASIK enhancement is not possible or recommended. This person might want to wear contact lenses full-time after LASIK surgery.
Another example is a person whose vision was fully corrected with LASIK, but they've become older and are now experiencing presbyopia. This person might want to be fitted with a contact lens on one eye for monovision, rather than becoming dependent on reading glasses.
Still another example is a person who has perfect vision after LASIK but wants to wear color contact lenses to change or enhance their eye color, either on a daily basis or just for specific occasions.
Whatever the case, the good news is that, in most cases, it's safe and effective to wear contact lenses after LASIK. If the lenses are being worn on both eyes for vision correction, many people find that rigid gas permeable contact lenses (including scleral lenses) or hybrid contact lenses provide sharper vision than soft contacts after LASIK.
Successfully fitting contact lenses on eyes that have undergone LASIK surgery can be more challenging, due to the altered curvature of the front surface of the eye after LASIK. For this reason, it's a good idea to seek an eye doctor who specializes in fitting contact lenses for hard-to-fit eyes if you want to wear contacts after LASIK.
Most LASIK surgeons recommend that you wait two to three months after LASIK before being fitted with contact lenses. Ask your eye doctor or LASIK surgeon for his or her specific recommendation about this if you want to wear contacts after LASIK.
If you want to wear contacts after LASIK because your vision is slightly blurry due to mild residual refractive error, part time wear of eyeglasses might be a better solution than contact lenses. For the best vision and comfort, choose lenses with anti-reflective coating to eliminate distracting reflections that can cause glare and affect your night vision.
If you are sensitive to light after LASIK, glasses with photochromic lenses that darken automatically in sunlight can be a good solution.
Finally, if you want to see as clearly as possible after LASIK and you are over age 40 and noticing symptoms of presbyopia, eyeglasses with progressive lenses usually are your best choice, even if you only wear them part time.
About the Author: Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, a leading researcher in technologies for laser and implant vision correction and a member of All About Vision's editorial advisory board.
Page updated March 2018