Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who has enjoyed 20/20 vision all your life, you’re faced with a decision of how to correct your less-than-perfect eyesight. Do you wear eyeglasses or contacts (or both), or do you opt for LASIK? There are several considerations that can influence your decision, including some facts that may surprise you.
Many people are surprised to learn that LASIK actually saves them a significant amount of money over their lifetime versus contact lenses and even eyeglasses. According to a study conducted by Abbott Medical Optics Inc., typical patients save approximately $13,000-$17,000 if they had a LASIK procedure in their 30s versus paying for contact lenses through the years.
With eyeglasses now averaging $244 per pair (according to Consumer Reports) and prescriptions that change numerous times over a lifetime, similar cost savings could be realized for patients opting for LASIK versus eyeglasses.
Of course, a LASIK procedure is a larger one-time payment versus years of purchasing prescription eyewear, and actual savings depend on the age of the patient, frequency of prescription changes, specific type of corrective lenses required (bifocal, etc.) and other factors.
Contact lenses and standard eyeglasses aren’t a good match with many popular hobbies and sports. Snorkeling and scuba diving, for example, can’t be done with contacts. And, to see normally, they require expensive corrective lenses for the scuba mask. Many other sports that involve running, jumping or contact — jogging, basketball and football, for example — require special sports goggles to prevent standard eyeglasses from bouncing around and affecting vision. Contact lenses also can be easily lost in the jostling that is common in these and similar sports.
LASIK patients enjoy all their favorite activities with improved vision and without the extra expense of special equipment or worry of losing their eyewear. However, all recent LASIK patients need to wait several weeks before engaging in contact sports.
Comfort & Convenience
There’s an undeniable “hassle” factor when it comes to wearing eyeglasses and contacts. Broken, scratched or misplaced glasses always seem to happen at the most inopportune times, like during vacation when replacing them is costly and time-consuming. Eyeglasses also require frequent adjustments to keep them in the optimal position, and they put uncomfortable pressure on your sinuses and ears.
Contacts require daily care. Once you drop one, or it falls out of your eye, it can become damaged or difficult to find. Contacts also evoke the feeling that there is a foreign object in your eye (because there is), as well as increased chances of suffering from irritating red, itchy or dry eyes. These irritations and even infections occur because contact lenses decrease oxygen delivery to the cornea and decrease the ability to tear, which naturally flushes irritants from your eyes.
For most patients, LASIK reduces their dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses. You wake up every morning and enjoy your improved vision. And, free from the dreaded “four eyes” syndrome of eyeglasses and the red, puffy “allergy eyes” contacts cause, there’s a good chance your eyes likely will look as well as feel better after LASIK.
Given the daily demands we place on our eyes in today’s digital age, choosing the right option for your vision correction is more important than ever. In its 2013 report, “Digiteyezed: The Daily Impact of Digital Screens on the Eye Health of Americans,”the Vision Council revealed that nearly 70 percent of Americans report eyestrain as a result of spending an average of 6-9 hours daily in front of digital devices. Those who experience this “digital eyestrain” commonly report headaches, neck and shoulder pain, dry eyes and blurred vision.
According to the report, people with common vision conditions such as astigmatism (irregularly-shaped corneas), hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (age-related loss of near focusing) are more likely to suffer digital eyestrain. To make matters worse, the contact lenses and eyeglasses often prescribed for these conditions can contribute to digital eyestrain. Lenses prescribed to compensate for problems associated with focusing on objects near or far away, for example, aren’t designed to focus on the midpoint words and images displayed by PCs and laptops, says the report. If your prescription lenses aren’t providing the vision you need to properly view your digital devices, it can lead to excessive squinting, which has been associated with the development of wrinkles around your eyes.
In contrast, LASIK corrects many of the conditions that lead to eyestrain, including varying levels of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia and astigmatism. The monovision LASIK option also corrects presbyopia.
To ensure that you make the best decision for your long-term vision, consult a qualified LASIK provider to determine what option is right for you.