Question: I am thinking about having LASIK? What's the reason for not wearing my contact lenses 2 weeks prior to the LASIK Eye Surgery procedure?
Answer: In our society contact lenses have unfortunately been reduced to being treated like a commodity rather than the medical device that they actually. Most people don’t realize or think about the long term consequences of contact lens wear on the cornea and the surrounding eye tissue. Previous contact lens wear prior to LASIK can cause a number of changes to occur in the cornea that can impact the results of and predictability of LASIK Surgery as well as the ease with which you enjoy good stable vision. First, any contact lens is a barrier to unrestricted oxygen flow to the cornea. This is especially true if you sleep or even nap in your contacts. Hypoxia, “too little oxygen” results in swelling of the cornea. Even if you have no symptoms whatsoever it is likely that you have some baseline of mild corneal swelling when you wear contacts. Swelling of the cornea results in an artificial increase in cornea thickness. Corneal thickness is a key critical parameter and measurement used in the calculations for LASIK.
Thus, it is important to have a completely “swelling free” cornea from which the LASIK calculations are performed-THIS CAN REQUIRE NOT WEARING SOFT CONTACT LENSES FOR AN AVERAGE OF 2 WEEKS.
In addition, when the cornea swells during contact lens wear as a result of the swelling and the mechanical pressure of even a soft contact lens, there is often a shape change that occurs in the cornea. The shape of the cornea is a key critical component in the LASIK Eye Surgery algorithm and nomogram combination. Thus, it is important to have a completely “normal shaped” cornea from which the decisions about the LASIK procedure can made. THIS CAN REQUIRE NOT WEARING SOFT CONTACT LENSES FOR AN AVERAGE OF 2 WEEKS.
AND NOT WEARING RIGID GAS PERMEABLE LENS FOR 8-12 WEEKS AS THEY TEND TO DISTORT THE CORNEA SHAPE TO A MUCH GREATER DEGREE.
Last, contact lens wear disturbs the normal structure and adherence of the tear film and in some patients causes what is referred to as a “contact lens induced dry eye”-these are the people who use excessive amounts of lubricating drops during and after contact lens wear each day. The tear film is a critical part of the LASIK healing process and visual recovery. So, it is critical to let the ocular surface recover from contact lens wear prior to LASIK. Most LASIK Surgeons follow a strict contact lens removal protocol prior to LASIK Surgery and top LASIK Surgeons may even do a series of retesting to ensure that everything has normalized after contact lens wear.
Important Note: The information presented on the See With LASIK Blog or provided in response to a request for information in the Ask LASIK Surgeons section on www.seewithlasik.com is not intended to diagnose or treat eye problems, eye conditions or eye diseases including appropriateness of treatment, risks, complications or side effects as related to LASIK. In particular a response to an inquiry made on the Ask LASIK Surgeons section of www.seewithlasik.com is not meant to take the place of the professional medical care provided by your eye doctor, ophthalmologist and LASIK surgeon. Contacting us via e-mail or any other means is not a substitute for medical care.