LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: What Is the Best Choice? (2023)

LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: What Is the Best Choice? (1)

The need for vision correction is highly prevalent worldwide. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 150 million people use corrective eyewear to compensate for refractive errors in just the United States alone. Additionally, Americans spend more than $15 billion each year on eyewear to correct their vision deficiencies. Although contact lenses and eyeglasses are effective forms of vision correction, many opt for corrective eye surgeries instead. Approximately 600,000 people undergo LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery or a similar refractive procedure each year in the United States. It is important for anyone who needs vision correction to understand their options beyond wearing contact lenses.

LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: What Is the Best Choice? (2)

LASIK Eye Surgery Refresher

LASIK is a laser eye surgery used to correct refractive errors and improve vision. It is a versatile and common procedure that can be used to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism.

(Video) ICL Eye Surgery VS Lasik

During LASIK surgery, a thin, circular flap is made on the cornea with the use of a femtosecond laser. The surgeon then lifts this flap, and uses a computer-guided excimer laser to reshape the cornea to correct the refractive error with a high degree of accuracy. The corneal flap is then put back into place, allowing the site of the correction to heal naturally.

LASIK eye surgery is safe and effective, with one of the highest patient satisfaction rates of any elective procedure.

Which Is Better: LASIK or Contact Lenses?

LASIK vs. Contact Lenses: What Is the Best Choice? (3)

When it comes down to deciding which method of vision correction to use, there are many factors to consider such as comfort, convenience, lifestyle, eye strain, and of course cost. So which is better when it comes to LASIK vs contacts? While personal preferences will play a role in one’s decision, there are some clear differences between each of these vision solutions. We should also note that LASIK is not the only viable option for corrective surgery – however LASIK has withstood the test of time and is likely the most well-known laser eye surgery option.

Comfort and Convenience

For some people, contact lenses are a big step up from eyeglasses when it comes to comfort. If their eyes do not suffer from dryness or allergies, and the contact lenses fit well, the wearer will usually not notice they are there.

(Video) Contact Lenses vs LASIK eye surgery – which one is SAFER 🧐 explained by Eye Surgeon

However, for those times when a substance such as dirt gets in the eye, there can be significant discomfort with contact lenses. Contact lenses are fairly convenient during the day, as they are with the wearer at all times, but they take some consistent maintenance. Contact lens wearers must put in the contacts every morning, then remove, disinfect, and store the contact lenses every night. Those with contacts also need to monitor how long they have been wearing their current contact lenses, and be diligent about replacing them every two weeks (or as directed).

With LASIK, the only discomfort comes during the healing process immediately following the surgery. The patient may also experience some dry eye symptoms during that time, and need to regularly apply eye drops. Once the eye has fully healed from the LASIK surgery, the eye should feel completely normal and should require no additional forms of maintenance. In fact, one study from Pub Med indicated that in comparison to wearing contact lenses, patients with LASIK experienced improved ease of driving at night, no significant increase in dry eyes, and higher levels of satisfaction in each of the three years following the procedure.


Another consideration when assessing lenses vs LASIK is how active one’s lifestyle is. While contact lenses are an upgrade from glasses when it comes to those who frequently exercise or play sports, the lens can still become dislodged and/or lost either through rubbing the eye or from accidental contact. Swimming with contact lenses in place is not recommended due to the harm that chlorine and salts will cause the cornea when they are trapped behind the contact lens. Dangerous corneal infections can be caused by swimming in contact lenses as well. Sports that expose people to wind and dust can make contact lens wearing intolerable as well due to induced ocular inflammation. People with Laser Vision Correction will be happy to enjoy their active lifestyle, including exercise and sports without the need for vision correction or the worry of contact lens complications while they are doing what they love.

Digital Eye Strain

In today’s digital world, eye strain is an increasingly relevant issue that can result in headaches, dry eye, and in some cases blurred vision. Given that screens will be present in most of our lifestyles for the foreseeable future, it is a consideration when choosing to wear contact lenses or pursue a long-term laser vision correction like LASIK. It has been suggested that digital eye strain may be amplified by eye conditions such as astigmatism or general refractive error. Contact lenses may actually contribute to digital eye strain, especially if the prescription is slightly off.

(Video) LASIK Surgery: Better Than Glasses?

Oftentimes eye strain is due to ocular dryness. When we are looking at the computer, television, or even reading a book we tend to blink less often. The decreased blink rate leads to an ocular dryness effect that creates inflammation and irritation. Contact lenses, which create low-grade ocular inflammation and irritation to start with, make eyes more prone to exacerbation of these symptoms when people are “visually attentive” whether it is on a phone, tablet, computer, or another reading device. Alternatively, LASIK should correct these underlying conditions, allowing patients to continue to use screens with less potential for eye strain and the negative side effects that are associated with it.


Many assume that a surgery such as LASIK would be riskier than wearing contacts long term, but that is not necessarily the case. While both options carry a small amount of risk for complications by way of infection, it is important to consider the cumulative effects of each. As Dr. Waite of the Hamilton Eye Institute points out, ‘LASIK…is a one-time risk compared to a continuous risk for infection in contact lens users.”

If a contact lens wearer does not follow the cleaning and maintenance protocol, they may put themselves at risk for eye infections (such as conjunctivitis or keratitis). In rare cases, bacterial keratitis or Acanthamoeba keratitis can result in severe vision loss. Contact lens problems typically take longer to develop and the chances of issues arising can be reduced with proper daily lens care. Still, an estimated 1 million visits to clinics were made by contact lens wearers in 2010 to address issues related to microbial keratitis.

It is common for people to have anxiety around having surgery done on their eyes. Still, it is important to remember that over 20 million LASIK procedures have been performed worldwide. LASIK consultations will determine if a person is a viable candidate for the surgery. Then, complex preoperative screening tests are performed to set the foundation for a highly accurate and reliable surgery with an excimer laser. This results in a highly effective treatment that has received around a 96-percent satisfaction rate from patients. However, as with any surgery, there is inherent risk involved. This is why it is important for patients to do their research to find an experienced surgeon who has extensive experience, positive reviews, and is licensed and board-certified to perform LASIK.

(Video) Implantable Contact Lens (ICL) is an excellent Vision Correction Option vs Lasik | Dr Vivek Talwar


Many wonder: is LASIK cheaper than contacts? It depends on how you look at it. Contact lenses have a much lower up-front cost, but people who wear contacts will usually need to buy multiple boxes of lenses a year. Depending on the type of lens needed, a yearly supply of contact lenses could cost anywhere from $220 to $700. Other potential costs may come in the form of eye exams, glasses, prescription adjustments, replacement lenses, and storage solutions.

On the other hand, the average cost of LASIK in 2020 was about $2,133 per eye with no additional ongoing costs. While this is a substantial investment, it is one that should provide no-hassle results for many years to come. Depending on the age that the patient gets LASIK surgery, they could end up saving thousands of dollars in the same period of time that they could be paying for lenses on an ongoing basis. It is also worth noting that many LASIK clinics will have financing plans available to help make the surgery more accessible. By using this LASIK affordability calculator, users can accurately assess the amount of money they spend each year on glasses and contact lenses, as well the amount they will spend on glasses or contacts by the time they turn 50. By putting this in perspective, it is easy to see the long-term value of LASIK surgery.

Why Should You Not Wear Contacts Before LASIK?

While an eye doctor or surgeon should inform their patient of proper protocols during their LASIK consultation, it is generally recommended for patients to stop wearing lenses for 1-2 weeks leading up to LASIK surgery. The reason behind this is because contacts can temporarily change the shape of the cornea when worn regularly. This can affect the accuracy of pre-surgery measurements of the eyes, and potentially impact the effectiveness of the surgery. Once the patient stops wearing contacts for the necessary duration, the cornea will return to its natural shape – allowing for accurate measurements and a better outcome.

Wearing Contacts After LASIK?

The majority of people who have LASIK have vastly improved vision, but not every patient will hit perfect 20/20 vision. If patients feel as though they need further vision enhancement for select activities, glasses are an easy solution and contacts are still an option for that extra boost. Even those who have a perfect LASIK operation may experience changes in their vision as they get older and their eye experiences natural changes associated with advancing age.

(Video) Glasses vs Contacts - Which is Better?

Contacts are safe to wear if vision changes after LASIK. Still, it may be necessary to have a consultation with a doctor who specializes in fitting contacts for different eye shapes, as the topography of the cornea after LASIK is not the same as for someone who has not had the surgery. Because of this, traditional soft contact lenses may not be the best option for many people who have had LASIK.


The debate of LASIK vs contacts is a worthwhile one to consider, as there are advantages to both. But for those that are tired of glasses and contacts and are looking for a long-term and low-maintenance solution to clear vision, LASIK is an excellent option. If you are ready to see better with your natural eye, reach out to us today at Heart of Texas Eye Care for a free LASIK consultation.

Related Posts:

  • Implantable Contact Lens (ICL) Surgery: What to Know
  • LASIK Surgery Facts vs. LASIK Myths
  • Comparing SMILE and LASIK Eye Procedures
  • A Clear Look at the LASIK Flap
  • The Limitations of LASIK
  • SMILE Eye Surgery vs. LASIK: A Detailed Comparison


Is it better to get LASIK younger or older? ›

Generally speaking, most LASIK eye surgeons agree on 25-40 as the ideal age range for LASIK eye surgery candidacy for a few reasons. By the age of 25, eyeglasses and contact lens prescriptions have most likely stabilized. A stable prescription is one of the hallmarks of a good LASIK candidate.

Is there a better option than LASIK? ›

If you have thick corneas, LASIK is the best option while those with thin corneas should opt for PRK. When replacing the eye's natural lens, IOL implants and RLEs are better alternatives to LASIK and the most ideal as they offer a permanent and long-lasting solution versus other corrective procedures.

Which is better contact lens or LASIK? ›

One study even found that LASIK results in a much higher satisfaction rate compared to corrective lenses. Choosing to have a laser vision correction procedure like LASIK can provide visual freedom, eliminating your reliance on contacts. It can make a real difference in your vision and life.

What is the best eye number removal operation? ›

LASIK is the best known and most commonly performed. Many articles, including this one, will use the term "LASIK" to refer to all types of laser eye surgery.

Is it worth getting LASIK after 60? ›

A review of 424 LASIK patients in their 40s through 60s showed that outcomes were generally similar regardless of age, but older patients were slightly more likely to need a repeat treatment or enhancements. However, there are some age-related issues that could mean LASIK is not the right choice for you.

What age is too late for LASIK? ›

While there is currently no age limit for older adults wanting LASIK surgery, there are some vision conditions affecting adults age 40 and above that can't be treated with this surgery. These conditions are: Presbyopia or blurry near vision typically occurring around age 40. Cataracts or glaucoma.

Why isn t LASIK more popular? ›

LASIK surgeons blame the economy, citing that it has yet to recover from the recession, meaning that fewer people can afford the surgery. While this may be true, other ophthalmologists claim that the millennial generation is choosing different ways to care for their eyes, if they choose to care for their eyes at all.

Is there any disadvantages of LASIK? ›

Risks. Complications that result in a loss of vision are very rare. But certain side effects of LASIK eye surgery, particularly dry eyes and temporary visual problems such as glare, are fairly common. These usually clear up after a few weeks or months, and very few people consider them to be a long-term problem.

What is the safest alternative to LASIK eye surgery? ›

4 LASIK Alternatives to Consider
  • LASEK. If you have thin or flat corneas, LASEK is one of the best LASIK alternatives. ...
  • Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants. If a patient has a lens that is not able to focus, he or she most likely doesn't qualify for LASIK. ...
  • Epi-LASIK. ...
  • Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery.

Do you still wear contacts after LASIK? ›

Most LASIK patients are unable to wear soft contact lenses after surgery because their pliability prevents them from maintaining the shape required to correct post-LASIK vision problems. For this reason, gas permeable (GP) contact lenses are the preferred option for post-LASIK patients.

Can you get better than 20 20 vision with LASIK? ›

Historical data from years of LASIK research shows that more than 90 percent of people who undergo LASIK obtain 20/20 vision or better. Yes, it's possible to get vision clearer than 20/20 after surgery.

Should I wear glasses after LASIK? ›

You can wear glasses or contact lenses after LASIK. If your vision is continuing to change as your refractive error returns or changes, you may find you need them again.

How long does LASIK last? ›

For most patients, the results of LASIK will last a lifetime. About 10-12% of patients nationwide will need an enhancement surgery because of anatomical changes to the eye/eyes.

How much does LASIK eye surgery cost? ›

How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost? The cost of LASIK eye surgery varies drastically, ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per eye. However, the average price for LASIK surgery in the U.S. in 2020 was $2,632 per eye, according to a 2021 report in Clinical Ophthalmology.

What is the failure rate of eye surgery? ›

The intraoperative complication rate of Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) has been reported to be in between 0.7-6.6%.

Is 50 too old to get LASIK eye surgery? ›

While the minimum age for LASIK surgery is 18 years old, there is technically no age limit for laser vision correction. Candidacy for LASIK surgery is typically not dependent upon age, but upon the stability and health of the eye.

Is LASIK worth it at 50? ›

If you're over 50, but have little to no signs of cataracts developing, you may be a candidate for LASIK. In fact, corneas strengthen with time, so in some ways, patients in their 50s are at less risk than patients in their teens and 20s!

Should people over 50 get LASIK? ›

LASIK age limits

It is important to wait until your vision is stable before having laser eye surgery. If you are older than 50 and your eyesight is changing due to aging, this may also affect your candidacy. Ophthalmologists evaluate patients on a case-by-case basis since eye health is also taken into account.

What is considered a high prescription for LASIK? ›

Typically, eye doctors will set their limits to +6 for farsightedness, -12 for nearsightedness, and 6 diopters for astigmatism.

Does LASIK fix astigmatism? ›

LASIK eye surgery is an effective type of laser-assisted refractive surgery that can be used to treat common vision problems including astigmatism, myopia (nearsightedness), and hyperopia (farsightedness).

Can LASIK be done twice? ›

Yes, it is possible to get LASIK twice. However, it is extremely uncommon to need the surgery twice, and the majority of individuals who undergo LASIK enjoy lasting improved vision after just one procedure.

What disqualifies you from getting LASIK? ›

When is LASIK not for me?
  • You required a change in your contact lens or glasses prescription in the past year. This is called refractive instability. ...
  • You have a disease or are on medications that may affect wound healing. ...
  • You actively participate in contact sports. ...
  • You are not an adult.
Jul 11, 2018

Who Cannot have laser eye surgery? ›

Eye herpes. Glaucoma. Blindness in one eye. Partial sightedness in one eye.

Why doesn t Bill Gates get Lasik surgery? ›

Because he doesn't want to. Voluntary eye surgery is a personal choice. Even with the best LASIK surgeon, the risks of LASIK are not 0 and it is for an individual to calculate if the risks are worth the outcome. For me, I was happy with contact lenses for 10 years until I couldn't tolerate them anymore.

How long does it take to see 20 20 after LASIK? ›

Once the full healing process after Eye LASIK surgery has been completed, your optimum visual acuity will be reached. After 3 to 6 months your eyesight will have reached its optimum benefit from the surgery. In many cases 20/20 vision is achieved, but some patients find they need reading glasses for close work.

What is the risk of LASIK going wrong? ›

What is the LASIK complication rate? The LASIK complication rate is less than 1%. LASIK complications include infections as well as dislocation of the corneal flap that's made during the surgery. Surgical complications from laser vision correction are extremely rare.

Why am I not a candidate for LASIK or PRK? ›

Some patients may not qualify for LASIK due to various reasons, including thin corneas, having chronically dry eyes, extreme nearsightedness, past eye problems, and having unrealistic expectations of what the procedure can accomplish.

How long until you can look at your phone after LASIK? ›

Since your eyes are still healing, they will be especially sensitive in the first 24 hours after the LASIK procedure. Because of this, it's recommended to wait at least 24 hours before using your phone, computer, tablet or watching TV.

How long are your eyes covered after LASIK? ›

After 2-4 hours, remove the plastic shields and, as directed by your surgeon, begin using your prescribed eye drops for healing and to keep your eyes comfortable, and lubricated.

How common is vision loss with LASIK? ›

It's estimated that the chances of going blind as a result of laser eye surgery are around 1 in 5 million.

Who has the best vision in the world? ›

Eagles are thought to have the best eyesight of all; their eyes are as many as eight times sharper than ours.

Does LASIK work 100%? ›

Research suggests that the average success rate of achieving 20/20 vision is 98%. Advanced LASIK surgery providers, like NVISION, have success rates of 99% in achieving 20/20 vision. If you choose CONTOURA (topography-guided LASIK), you have a 68% likelihood of seeing 20/15, which is better than 20/20 vision.

Do you wear sunglasses at night after LASIK? ›

How Long Should You Wear Dark Glasses After LASIK? For the first 24 hours after surgery, it's best to wear sunglasses anytime you're outside. Inside, they can help with light sensitivity. Outside, they'll protect you from UV light and potential hazards.

Do I have to wear sunglasses at night after LASIK? ›

Yes. Sunglasses protect your eyes from intense light and the sun's UV rays. After LASIK eye surgery, your eyes are going to be more sensitive. Protecting them will keep you comfortable and assist with the recovery process.

What you can and Cannot do after LASIK? ›

After eye surgery, you should avoid swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, and other bodies of water like lakes and rivers for at least two weeks. After two weeks, we encourage you to wear goggles or keep your eyes closed under water if you decide to go for a swim.

Can LASIK fix old age eyes? ›

LASIK corrects vision by reshaping the cornea. However, the loss of near vision from presbyopia is a result of loss of flexibility and elasticity of the lens of the eye, and LASIK cannot prevent the natural aging process of the lens.

Is LASIK surgery painful? ›

Is LASIK Eye Surgery Painful? Fortunately, LASIK eye surgery is not painful. Right before your procedure, your surgeon will place numbing eye drops into both of your eyes. While you may still feel a little bit of pressure during the procedure, you should not feel any pain.

How do you keep your eyes still during LASIK? ›

During this part of the surgery, which only takes about 30 seconds, a suction ring is placed on the eye prior to flap creation. This ring holds the eye in place so that movement of the eye is not possible.

How much does LASIK eye surgery cost for astigmatism? ›

The average price of LASIK in the U.S. is around $4,200 for both eyes. Even if your doctor recommends LASIK as a good treatment for your astigmatism, you may still want to consider the cost. LASIK surgery is one of the most expensive procedures to treat astigmatism.

Why is LASIK so expensive? ›

What Makes LASIK So Expensive. LASIK eye surgery is a complicated procedure using advanced technology to make precise adjustments to the eyes. The exact price can depend on a mix of things, including: The level of vision correction required – depending on your prescription, you may pay more or less than another patient ...

What's the difference between LASIK and Lasek? ›

The biggest difference between the LASIK and LASEK procedures is the way that the cornea is exposed. With LASIK, this is done with a laser; in the case of LASEK, the top layer of the cornea is dislodged using an alcohol solution.

What is the most successful eye surgery? ›

However, LASIK has one of the highest success and satisfaction rates of any elective procedure, with 96% of LASIK patients reporting high satisfaction after treatment. Effectiveness studies show that 70% to 90% of LASIK patients achieve 20/20 vision or better after treatment.

What is the most common eye surgery in the US? ›

Cataract Eye Procedures

Cataract surgery is the most common refractive surgical procedure performed in the over 40s.

What is the most common eye surgery in the world? ›

LASIK — Perhaps the most well-known of eye surgeries, LASIK (short for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) uses a laser to reshape the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Is it worth getting LASIK at 40? ›

For people in their 40s, LASIK may still be a good option as they begin to experience age-related vision changes, but their visual progression also opens the door for other procedure options.

Is LASIK worth it in your 20s? ›

Lasik vision correction is an excellent idea when you are in your twenties. As long as the person waits until their vision is stable, there is often little reason to consider another treatment.

What happens if you get LASIK too early? ›

Younger eyes haven't stabilized

It's not recommended to undergo LASIK or another vision correction procedure if you're under the age of 18. This is because the eyes are still growing during your childhood and teens, WebMD explains. This means they may still change shape, which can alter your prescription.

Is LASIK worth it at 30? ›

From a medical perspective, your 30s are a wonderful time to consider LASIK. By this time in your life, your prescription has most likely remained stable for a few years as your eyes have reached their full development. This means that there is little chance that your distance vision will deteriorate once corrected.

Is 50 too old for LASIK eye surgery? ›

While the minimum age for LASIK surgery is 18 years old, there is technically no age limit for laser vision correction. Candidacy for LASIK surgery is typically not dependent upon age, but upon the stability and health of the eye.

Is LASIK OK after 50? ›

But there are plenty of people in their 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond who have relatively healthy eyes and therefore may still be perfectly good candidates for LASIK. So the idea that there is an upper-age limit for treatment is simply false. You're never too old for LASIK if your eyes are healthy enough.

What is the average age of a LASIK patient? ›

Typical (Recommended) Age Range for LASIK

Most surgeons often clear patients between 25 and 40 years old for LASIK eye surgery for several reasons.

How long does it take for LASIK to heal? ›

During the surgery, your cornea has a flap cut into it. That flap needs time to reattach itself before it is safe to resume a normal life. A normal LASIK patient takes around three months to complete this recovery time. Some patients can take upwards of six months to a year to fully recover.

What time of year is best for LASIK? ›

For many people, it's best to wait until after the summer, so that their surgical recovery won't make it harder for them to go boating, swimming, waterskiing or participating in any of the other water activities popular in summer. LASIK doesn't require you to put your life on hold.

Can my eyesight get worse after LASIK? ›

Could my vision change after Lasik? As we mentioned above, the laser makes permanent changes to the shape of the cornea. This cannot be reversed; however, sometimes vision can continue to change as a person ages. In this case, you may notice changes to your vision over the years even if you've undergone Lasik surgery.

Why can't you get LASIK after 40? ›

The best results of LASIK surgery will be achieved when patients' eyes are stable and when their eye prescription has not changed within at least the past two years. Special considerations must be taken in patients over 40 because this is a time in which the eyes are likely to begin to change once again.


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