When Should I Stop Wearing Contact Lenses Before LASIK?
Even the cleanest, best-fitting contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the clear front surface of the eye (cornea), causing the potential for corneal swelling that could affect the accuracy of important measurements of your eyes prior to LASIK surgery.
Also, contact lens wear can affect the tear film, causing dry eyes; it also can affect corneal healing after LASIK surgery.
For these reasons, your eye doctor and/or LASIK surgeon will tell you to stop wearing contact lenses for a period of time prior to your LASIK procedure.
Individual surgeons may have different preferences regarding when you should discontinue contact lens wear prior to LASIK surgery. But generally, most surgeons say you should stop wearing soft contact lenses at least two weeks prior to surgery.
If you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, you should stop wearing these lenses for a longer period of time prior to LASIK — generally three weeks or longer.
Your eye doctor or LASIK surgeon will give you specific advice about when to stop wearing your contact lenses at your preoperative eye exam and/or LASIK consultation.
Your surgeon may allow you to wear your contact lenses up to the day of your consultation — as long as you understand that if you're a good candidate and desire to have LASIK, you'll need to discontinue wearing contacts for a specified period of time between the consultation and surgery day. This is to insure your surgeon will be able to obtain accurate pre-surgical measurements of your eyes on the day of your LASIK procedure.
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 May 2018