What if I’m Currently Wearing Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are an incredible invention that enable glasses wearers to avoid daily frustration and do many things they couldn’t before.

However, as little plastic disks that sit on your eyeball, they’re not free from their own issue and some rather unexpected effects.

Along with increasing your chances of infection and reducing the thickness of your cornea, contacts also, over time, change the shape of the eye.

This effect isn’t anything you really need to worry about as it likely won’t affect your vision. But it is something you need to be aware of if you’re planning to have Laser Eye Surgery.

How Contact Lenses Affect Laser Eye Surgery

Mr Glenn Carp explains what to do if you are currently wearing contact lenses and wish to have Laser Eye Surgery.

Contact lenses can literally mould the corneal surface of the eye, changing the corneal curvature and potentially leading to a change in your refraction (prescription). To calculate the treatment that’s needed to correct your refractive error, this means you will have to stop wearing contact lenses at some stage before your appointment.

As expert laser eye surgeon Mr Glenn Carp explains in the video above, when you schedule an initial screening, it’s simply a case of removing your contact lenses in the morning. As well as bringing in any glasses you wear.

Prior to your consultation with the surgeon and the treatment, however, things are a little more complicated. Most of all it’s important if you’re wearing hard or gas permeable contacts that they must be taken out at least six weeks prior to treatment. Soft lenses require less time and must be out for at least one week.

This is also the case for novelty lenses. In time, the cornea will return to its natural shape and size, allowing your surgeon to provide you with the most accurate treatment possible.

When You Need to Remove Your Contact Lenses Prior to Your Surgeon Consultation:

Contact lens typeLength of time lenses need to be out before the Consultation appointment with the surgeon
All soft contact lensesAt least 1 week before
Extended wear soft lensesAt least 1 week before
Toric soft lensesAt least 2 weeks before
Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses
worn for 0 – 10 years
worn for 10 -20 years
worn for 20 – 30 years
At least 4 weeks before
At least 8 weeks before
At least 12 weeks before
True hard lenses (Polymethyl methacrylate)At least 12 weeks before

For the vast majority of patients, the recommended minimum length of time for contact removal will suffice.

However, the rate at which an individual’s cornea adjusts can vary. If your cornea is still adjusting at either the pre-operative or the surgery appointment, you will be required to reschedule your appointment for a later date.

This will allow the cornea to return to its natural shape and for your refraction to stabilise, thus helping to allow you to attain the best possible outcome.

The difference in the length of times to remove contact lenses listed is to ensure that rescheduling of appointments if corneal “moulding” is apparent does not inconvenience the majority of out-of-town patients. Medical evidence suggests that we can reduce the likelihood of patients neededing an enhancement with the lengthening of the time they have their contact lenses out.

If you’re a contacts wearer and you are interested in having Laser Eye Surgery or simply want to find out more, drop a comment below or get in touch with our friendly team of eye experts.