Contacts Or Laser Eye Surgery: Which Is Best?

3 June 2021

By Author: Amir Hamid

If you don’t like wearing glasses, you’ve probably thought about contact lenses as an alternative. But have you ever considered choosing between contacts or laser eye surgery?

Here at Optegra, we want to help you find the option that’s right for you. We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of laser eye surgery and contact lenses below, so you have all the information you need to make the right choice.

Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery is a form of vision correction proven to correct short–and long-sightedness, presbyopia, and astigmatism. It uses a laser to reshape the eye’s cornea, improving its ability to focus.

It can significantly reduce patients’ dependence on glasses or contact lenses or even eradicate the need for them.

Laser eye surgery has become one of the most popular elective treatments in the UK. It is safe, highly effective, and can deliver a life free of glasses and contact lenses.

Benefits of Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery has several benefits over glasses and contact lenses, as follows:

A long-term solution – While glasses or contact lenses need to be replaced regularly, laser eye surgery offers a long-term solution. The changes made to your eyes during the treatment will be permanent. Although your vision may change over time, laser eye surgery provides a much longer-lasting solution than other forms of vision correction.

Increased freedom – If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’ll always need to carry them with you, and remember to take items like spare lenses and contact lens fluid with you wherever you go. If you choose laser eye surgery instead, you can leave the house without having any of those things in tow. You’ll also be able to swim or go in a sauna without getting steamed up!

A boost in confidence – Laser eye surgery can be a real boost, and you’ll no longer need to worry about what you’ll look like wearing glasses in photos!

Less risk of infection – Wearing contact lenses constantly puts your eyes at risk of infection, but if you choose laser eye surgery instead, once your eyes have healed, you’ll be able to avoid these risks.

Overall, it is more cost-effective. Contact lens direct debits can add up after several years; laser eye surgery is a one-off payment. 

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    Potential Disadvantages of Laser Eye Surgery

    If you’re having LASIK or LASEK, it’s natural for you to be concerned about the potential risks. However, complications are rare and can usually be remedied by further surgery.

    Possible risks to be aware of are as follows:

    • Dry eyes – You might find that your eyes feel slightly dry and uncomfortable immediately after your treatment. Your surgeon will give you eye drops to help combat this, and it should soon pass once your eyes heal.
    • Your vision might not be perfect – Laser eye surgery can help improve your vision significantly, and freedom from glasses and contact lenses is the outcome for most patients (99% of patients at Optegra achieve driving standards or better). A few patients might still find that you need glasses for tasks like reading tiny print. In a minority of cases, a small prescription may return as the eyes heal. If this is significant, we offer a free top-up procedure to improve your vision further if your consultant recommends it.
    • Glare or halo effect – After treatment, you might experience some glare or ‘halo effect’. This usually reduces significantly in the first few weeks after treatment and continues to improve over the first three months.

    While there are minimal risks with every surgery type, at Optegra, our comprehensive aftercare package means you need never worry about any unlikely complications. 

    The Cost Of Laser Eye Surgery

    You can see the cost of laser eye surgery at Optegra. While this is a significant outlay for anyone, it could prove more cost-effective than years of buying glasses or contact lenses. 

    Here at Optegra, we also offer a range of monthly finance options, including interest-free options, so you can spread the cost rather than pay for it all in one go.

    Optegra’s laser eye surgery prices start from only £1,795 per eye. 


    Contact Lenses

    Contact lenses are corrective lenses worn ‘in contact’ with the eye. They can be used to correct vision problems, including short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism. Still, unlike laser eye surgery, they’re not a long-term solution, so you’ll need to keep re-purchasing them and – in the case of monthly lenses – cleaning them daily.

    In addition, as individuals age, their vision changes, often requiring different types of corrective lenses to address these changes. This is true for both eyeglasses and contact lenses. The type of contact lenses a patient might need can change over time, particularly as they enter their 40s and beyond, due to a common age-related condition known as presbyopia.

    Benefits of Contact Lenses

    Contact lenses have some benefits over glasses, although they can’t give you all the benefits of laser eye surgery. Some of the benefits of contact lenses are as follows:

    • They’re an alternative if you don’t like glasses – If you don’t like wearing glasses or don’t feel that they suit you, contact lenses can provide an option.
    • They provide a better field of view than glasses – Contact lenses conform to the eye’s curvature, so you won’t have frames getting in the way of your vision.
    • Freedom to be more active – Contact lenses are less restrictive than glasses regarding activities such as playing sports. However, they are not recommended for use in swimming or relaxing in the sauna.
    • Easier to afford in the short term – Contacts are more economical in the short time, with users typically purchasing them each month. However, financing options at Optegra mean investing in laser eye surgery has never been more affordable.

    Disadvantages of Contact Lenses

    You’ll have to get used to putting them in – If you’re squeamish about touching your eyes, contact lenses may not be the best option for you, as you’ll need to get used to putting them in and taking them out again.

    There’s a risk of infection – Contact lenses bring with them the risk of eye infection, including microbial keratitis, which can be very serious if left untreated. To keep the risk of infection to a minimum, you’ll need to clean your lenses thoroughly or use daily disposable lenses, which tend to be more expensive.

    They’re inconvenient – Contact lenses can fall out and get lost easily. You’ll also need to remember to carry spare lenses and cleaning fluid around with you.

    They’re not a permanent solution – Contact lenses are just a short-term solution, and you’ll need to continue to pay for – and wear – them to keep seeing the benefits.

    You must not sleep or shower with contact lenses – this can result in a severe eye infection and possible sight loss if you do.

    The costs of contact lenses

    Prices for contact lenses can vary depending on the brand and type. As a rough guide, they can cost around £90 for a three-month supply of daily disposable lenses. Over a year, this could add up to £360, so over ten years, you’d be looking at £3,600. That also does not include the cost of any glasses you may need to pay for, as wearing contact lenses seven days a week is never recommended. Nor does this account for inflation, which would increase the cost of lenses annually. With laser eye surgery, you only pay one fixed price for your treatment.

    Choosing the Best Option for You

    Choosing between wearing contact lenses and opting for corrective laser eye surgery is a significant decision for someone with poor eyesight, and it involves considering both financial and lifestyle factors. Both methods are effective for clear vision but cater to different needs and preferences.

    Initial and Ongoing Costs:

    Contact Lenses: The cost of contact lenses can vary widely depending on the type (daily, weekly, monthly disposables), the need for special lenses (like toric lenses for astigmatism), and the brand. While initially cheaper, the recurring costs of purchasing lenses, solutions, and cases can add up over time. Regular eye exams and lens replacements are also necessary, contributing to the ongoing expense.

    Laser Eye Surgery: The upfront cost of laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, LASEK, or SMILE, can be significant. However, it’s a one-time expense. Over the long term, this can be more cost-effective than the continual expense of contact lenses. 

    Lifestyle Considerations:

     Contact Lenses: They offer flexibility, as you can wear them only when needed. They are suitable for individuals not ready for surgery or have medical contraindications. However, lenses require daily care and hygiene to avoid infections, and some people find them uncomfortable, especially in specific environments (like dry or dusty places).

     Laser Eye Surgery: It’s more suitable for those seeking a permanent solution to correct vision without the daily hassle of lenses. There’s no need for a daily eye care routine related to vision correction post-surgery. It’s ideal for active lifestyles (athletes, outdoor enthusiasts) as it eliminates the risk of lenses falling out or getting damaged.

    Effectiveness and Safety:

    Both options are effective for vision correction. Contact lenses are a safe and well-established method, provided they are used correctly and with good hygiene practices.

    Laser eye surgery has a high success rate and safety profile, with many people achieving 20/20 vision or better. However, like any surgery, although minimal, it comes with risks and potential side effects. 

    Personal Comfort and Preference:

    Some people find contact lenses uncomfortable, particularly those with dry eyes or allergies. Others adjust well to lenses and prefer the non-invasiveness of not having to touch their eyeball!

    Surgery might induce anxiety for some. However, the procedure is pain-free, and the recovery is quick.

    Book Your Free Consultation Today!

    If you’ve been weighing the pros and cons of laser eye surgery vs. contact lenses and still need to decide on the best option, we’d recommend a free consultation. You’ll be able to discuss your situation with one of our experienced experts and ask any questions you may have. 

    Amir Hamid Headshot

    By Author: Amir Hamid

    Mr. Amir Hamid is a Clinical Lead for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.

    Medically Reviewed Date: 15th January 2024


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