What if I’m Currently Wearing Contact Lenses?

Over the last few decades, contact lenses have become one of the most popular visual aids thanks to their ability to adapt to a huge variety of prescriptions and their invisible appearance. For many people, contact lenses are preferred to the more traditional glasses, and for good reason. 

Contact lenses fit to your actual eye which makes for more effective vision correction. They also make for clearer vision as they are not affected by steam and raindrops like glasses are!

However, while contact lenses may offer some benefits over glasses, they still come with their fair share of downsides. What’s more, contact lenses actually come with a number of potential risks and side effects that many people are simply unaware of.

Forgetting to take out your lenses before bed, struggling to put them in, and countless other annoyances can be an everyday occurrence. But contact lenses can also increase the chance of developing eye infections, reduce the thickness of your cornea and even, over time, can change the shape of the eye itself.

This is generally not something you need to worry about as it won’t affect your vision; however, it is something you should be aware of if you are interested in having Laser Eye Surgery.

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

How Contact Lenses Affect Laser Eye Surgery

Youtube video link

While contact lenses are designed to fit to your eye, they can also¬†literally mould the eye’s corneal surface. In more dramatic cases, this can change the curvature of the cornea over time, potentially leading to a change in your prescription.

If you are planning to have Laser Eye Surgery, an ophthalmologist will need to calculate the treatment required to correct your refractive error. In order to prevent any changes and allow for an accurate measurement of your refractive error, you will need to stop wearing contact lenses prior to your consultation appointment.

As expert laser eye surgeon, Mr Glenn Carp explains in the video above, for your initial screening, this is simply a case of removing your contact lenses in the morning. (Remember to bring a pair of glasses with you).

Before your consultation with the surgeon and the treatment itself, however, things are a little more complicated. You may be required to stop wearing contact lenses up to 12 weeks prior to Laser Eye Surgery treatment, depending on how long you have been wearing contacts.

If you usually wear hard or gas-permeable lenses, the amount of time needed contact-free prior to treatment will vary (as the table below explains). For soft lenses, you will be required to stop wearing them for at least one week before your procedure. This is also the case for novelty lenses.

In time, the cornea will return to its natural shape and size and your refraction will stabilise. This will allow your surgeon to provide you with the most accurate and effective treatment possible. Medical evidence suggests that the likelihood of patients needing an enhancement is also reduced with the lengthening of the time they have their contact lenses out before treatment.

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, everybody’s eyes are different. This means that the time needed for the cornea to re-adjust to its natural shape can vary between individuals. If your cornea is still adjusting at either the pre-operative or the surgery appointment itself, you will be required to reschedule your appointment for a later date.

Your surgeon will discuss the optimum amount of time required to remove your contact lenses before your Laser Eye Surgery treatment. During this period, you can wear prescription glasses as normal. All advice given regarding these lengths of time are given with the aim of minimising the chance of needing to reschedule appointments as this can be a significant inconvenience for out-of-town patients.

If you wear contact lenses and are interested in having Laser Eye Surgery, get in touch with our friendly clinic coordinators who can give you more information. Alternatively, Book a Consultation at London Vision Clinic today.