If you had LASIK, RK, or another type of laser eye surgery to correct your vision, you probably expected to see clearly when it was done. Unfortunately, not everyone has that perfect result. The good news is that even if you had one of these procedures, you may be able to wear contacts after laser eye surgery to help fix your vision.
When Laser Surgery Goes Wrong
The cornea is the clear portion of the front of the eye. It is the first part of the eye to receive light and it plays an important role in focusing an image clearly on the retina. Laser eye surgery uses a laser beam to reshape the cornea of the eye to help correct any problems the eye has focusing light precisely where it needs to be focused for clear vision.
Depending on how the eye reacts to the laser beam and how the eye heals, any laser eye surgery can result in less than perfect vision. If the cornea ends up with an irregular shape, or with tiny irregularities on the surface of the cornea, your vision can actually be worse after surgery than it was before.
If the surface of your cornea has small irregularities such as bumps or ridges after surgery, you may not be able to see clearly, even with glasses. A second surgery, called an enhancement, may be possible if your cornea is thick enough. Or, you may want to consider wearing gas permeable contact lenses after surgery to solve the problem.
Wearing Contacts after Laser Surgery
Gas permeable contacts are made of rigid plastic, which holds its shape rather than conforming to the shape of the eye like a soft lens. This is important after laser eye surgery because the gas permeable lens actually “floats” on a bed of tears. These tears fill in the space between the lens and the surface of the cornea. If your eye has tiny irregularities, the tears help fill in the gaps. Since the front surface of the contact lens is smooth, the eye is able to focus clearly through the contact without the distortion or blurriness caused by the irregularities on the cornea.
Soft contact lenses typically are not recommended following laser eye surgery because the lenses do not hold their shape. Soft lenses are designed to fit tight to the surface of the cornea and match their shape to the surface of the eye. So if they cornea has bumps or ridges, the soft contact will match those irregularities and will not be able to provide clear vision.
If you are looking for the comfort of a soft lens, but need the rigid surface of a gas permeable lens, new hybrid contact lenses may be your answer. This new design combines the clarity of a gas permeable lens with the comfort of a soft lens by adding a soft “skirt” around the outer edge of the gas permeable lens to help the lens feel more comfortable in the eye.
If you are considering laser eye surgery, talk to your doctor about the potential risks involved in the procedure. If your vision is not as good as you would like after surgery, talk to your doctor about whether gas permeable contacts can help improve your vision.