Can You Wear Contact Lenses After Laser Eye Surgery?

Can You Wear Contact Lenses After Laser Eye Surgery?

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If you’re considering laser eye surgery but are concerned about your future contact lens options, you’re not alone! 

Many people contemplating LASIK or other forms of laser eye surgery wonder about the long-term implications, especially if they might need or want to wear contact lenses later in life. 

Let’s dive in and answer some of the most common questions. 

Wearing Contact Lenses After LASIK Surgery

The first thing we want to cover is that if your vision correction surgery was successful, you shouldn’t need to wear contact lenses afterwards for a very long time. 

At Focus, we have a 100% success rate for correcting short-sightedness, and most of our patients don’t need to wear glasses or lenses again. The one exception is needing reading glasses in middle age, a normal age-related change called presbyopia. However, there are several treatments available for this separate condition. 

If you want to wear cosmetic contact lenses after surgery or just want to plan for the future, there’s good news. It is generally possible to wear soft contact lenses six months after LASIK surgery, but there are some considerations to remember.

Considerations for Wearing Contact Lenses After LASIK Surgery

Changes in Corneal Shape

LASIK surgery reshapes your cornea to correct your vision. This change can make fitting standard contact lenses after laser eye surgery more challenging, and you may notice some discomfort when wearing them. You might need specialised lenses, such as gas-permeable or custom soft contact lenses (more on these later), designed to fit the altered corneal surface.

When you go to the opticians, let them know you had laser eye surgery, and they can help with fitting lenses to your cornea. Having a proper fitting session with your eye doctor is essential to finding lenses that offer comfort and vision correction.

Eye Dryness

Dry eyes are a common and usually temporary side effect after LASIK, making wearing contact lenses uncomfortable in the first months (although you shouldn’t need lenses after surgery!). 

Some post-LASIK patients might need specific types of contact lenses. These hydrophilic lenses attract water and provide additional moisture to help with comfort. 

Hydrophilic lenses are not exclusively made for people who have had LASIK surgery; they are available for anyone with an eye condition that causes dryness – you can even buy multifocal contact lenses with hydrophilic technology. 

However, you may need help finding coloured contact lenses or other types of cosmetic contact lenses with this technology.

Regular Eye Check-Ups

Post-LASIK, it’s crucial to have regular eye exams to monitor your eye health, regardless of whether you need to wear contact lenses or not. If you are wearing contacts, you need to ensure they fit correctly. Improved vision and changes in your corneal surface and health must be monitored and addressed promptly to avoid further issues.

Type of Contact Lenses

Not all contact lenses are suitable for post-LASIK eyes. You may need to consider:

  • Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses: These lenses provide clear vision and are durable but may take time to get used to.
  • Hybrid Lenses: These combine the clarity of RGP lenses with the comfort of soft lenses, which are ideal for post-LASIK corneas.
  • Custom Soft Lenses: Tailored to your corneal shape, these lenses offer comfort and good vision correction.

Potential Vision Changes

Over time, your vision may change due to natural ageing or other eye conditions that weren’t present when you had laser eye surgery. For most LASIK patients, this is not common, but it can happen as you age. 

It is essential to understand that laser eye surgery is used mainly to correct blurred distance vision caused by short-sight and astigmatism. However, with age, it is normal to need glasses for reading. This is a different issue, known as presbyopia, caused by ageing changes inside the eye’s natural lens.

Potential for Residual Errors

LASIK may not entirely correct vision imperfections, leading to residual refractive errors. Custom or specialised lenses can help address these remaining issues, providing clearer vision where glasses might not be practical. 

However, in rare situations where a prescription remains (less than 1% at our clinic), re-treatment is usually offered to remove the small refractive error and provide the best possible vision.

In Summary

Everyone’s eyes respond differently to LASIK. As we said, the chances of needing glasses or contact lenses after LASIK are rare. If you need/want to wear contact lenses after the surgery, please wait six months and consult your eye doctor or opticians to ensure the lenses are correctly fitted.

Some might find wearing contact lenses post-surgery straightforward, while others face more challenges. Personalised advice from your eye doctor, based on your unique eye structure and health, will be invaluable.

Laser eye surgery, including LASIK, can significantly improve your vision and reduce your dependence on glasses or contacts. However, it’s good to know that wearing contact lenses post-surgery is generally an option if needed. 

Want to see if you’re eligible for laser eye surgery? Book a free consultation with Focus today and enjoy 20/20 vision and freedom from contact lenses forever!

Laser Eye Surgery and Contact Lens FAQs

Can you wear contacts 20 years after LASIK?

Absolutely! Many people successfully wear contact lenses years after having LASIK. Your vision needs can change over time due to ageing or other factors. So you might need contacts for reading or other specific tasks. However, it’s important to have a thorough eye exam to ensure your eyes are well lubricated and to find the right type of lenses for your post-LASIK eyes.

How long does it take for your eyes to heal after laser?

Healing times can vary, but most people’s eyes heal quickly after LASIK. Most people return to normal activities shortly after surgery, with initial recovery happening within a few days to a week. 

However, your eyes can continue to adjust and heal over several months, so waiting at least six months before considering contact lenses is essential. At this point, your eye health will be stable enough for contacts. However, the typical plan is a laser enhancement procedure to top up the original treatment.

Why can’t you wear contacts after LASIK?

Post-surgery, your eyes need time to heal and stabilise. Wearing contact lenses too soon may interfere with this healing process and cause complications or discomfort.

Additionally, your corneal shape is altered during LASIK, and it needs to settle before you can safely and comfortably wear contacts.

Can you wear contacts after laser retina surgery?

Laser retina surgery differs from LASIK. It addresses issues like retinal tears or detachments. While it’s often possible to wear contacts after laser retina surgery, it depends on the specific condition of your retina and overall eye health. Your eye doctor can advise based on your situation and the type/extent of your surgery. 

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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