Contact lenses vs glasses: Which provides better vision?
If you’ve ever worn contacts and glasses, you’ve probably noticed your quality of vision differs between the two — particularly when transitioning from one after a long period of time wearing the other.
The weird thing about this is that it can happen even both are of the same prescription. Surely if they’re the same prescription and therefore the same strength lens and the same focusing power, then they should provide the same standard of vision, right?
Well, it’s true they have the same strength and focusing power. And this, in fact, is the very reason for the difference in visual quality. You see, as contacts are much closer to the eye than glasses —which sit at a distance due to the limitations of glass lenses and the frame that supports them — they bend light in a way that is closer to the needs of your prescription. This difference of a few centimetres can, therefore, have an impact on visual acuity.
For this reason, some optometrists issue different prescriptions for glasses or contacts for the same person, and recommend updating your prescription if you decide to switch from one to the other.
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Another reason contacts can appear to provide better vision than glasses is the fact that glasses are exposed to the elements. The clear glass lenses of your frames are magnets for dirt and debris, are easily smeared by finger prints, and love picking up little scratches and blemishes. They also catch the glare of lights and become foggy with any sudden change in temperature. Contacts are far from perfect, but generally don’t suffer as often from these issues.
Going from having a frame around your world and limited peripheral vision can also add to the contact lens effect. Because contacts are globe shaped and leave no space between them and your eye, you can look up, down, left, right, and have full and clear peripheral vision without an edge being in sight.
Even if the idea that contact lenses provide better vision than spectacles is mostly an illusion, which, inevitably, fades away over time, the case for switching to the convenient little lenses is a strong one. But there’s just one problem: the biggest advantage of contacts — that they sit directly on the eye — is also their biggest drawback.
In a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, sight-threatening infections from contact lens use were found to occur in every 1 in 2,000 contact lenses wearers. To some people, this is shocking to hear — probably those who’re new to contacts or only wear them occasionally. But for long-term wearers who’ve experienced the dry eyes, irritation, and all the other visual disturbances of contacts, it’s pretty expected.
If you’re looking to get the best out of your vision, these leaves you in a bit of a conundrum: stick with the framed and tainted view of glasses, or take the risk and opt for contacts. But wait a minute. There’s a third option that can give you the best of both worlds, providing excellent visual acuity and optimal convenience, without the risks: Laser Eye Surgery.
Contacts vs Laser Eye Surgery
The reality is Laser Eye Surgery is much safer than wearing contact lenses. Compared to the figures above, where 1 in every 2,000 contact lenses wearers develop serious infections, only 1 in 10,000 patients are at risk of significant vision loss due to complications from LASIK, the most common Laser Eye Surgery procedure.
And even if you’re the unlucky one, it would still be incredibly unlikely that the surgeon would be unable to satisfactorily correct the situation. With these odds being ever more in your favour the higher the quality of clinic you go to.
And when it comes to quality of vision, there’s really no comparison. Again, depending on the clinic, up to 95 percent of patients who receive LASIK will achieve 20/40 vision, and up to 85 percent 20/20 or better.
But how do all these numbers make a difference on a day-to-day basis? Well, just look at the plethora of sports stars who’ve ditched their contacts for Laser Eye Surgery. They’ve not only upped their game thanks to sharper visual acuity, they’ve negated the chance of being hindered by things like infections and dry eye and eliminated all worries of losing one of those pesky little lenses when things matter most.
So, what’s the verdict in the fight between glasses and contacts? Well, the difference in quality of vision is minor, and will most likely disappear after a few hours. As we’ve seen, if you’re really looking to get the best out of your vision, there’s only one real contender: Laser Eye Surgery.
Find out more about how Laser Eye Surgery compares to contacts by asking us a question below, or if you’d like to book your consultation, call us on 020 7224 1005.