Why do I have to leave my contact lenses out before LASIK, PRK, Epi-LASIK, and Inta-LASIK assessment and surgery?
Many people are unhappy to be told to leave their contact lenses out before assessment or surgery when investigating laser vision correction.
Some people who wear contact lenses full time don’t even have a current pair of glasses to rely on when instructed to leave contacts out. For wavefront treatments it is important to have soft contact lenses out for at least 1 week and for rigid lenses it may be necessary to leave contact lenses out for 2 weeks or longer. It may be less frustrating to leave your contact lenses out if you understand why.
Contact lens wear can warp the corneal surface and in some people will lead to chronic dry eye. These surface changes can affect the testing including the corneal mapping results. In some cases, if the mapping is abnormal your eye care provider may ask you to leave contacts out for a longer period of time and suggest dry eye treatments to optimize mapping results. Corneal mapping is done to identify people who may have a high risk for corneal instability, also called ectasia, following laser vision correction. Abnormal maps may disqualify you from LASIK, PRK, Epi-LASIK, or Intra-LASIK.
For true wavefront treatments leaving contact lenses out for the recommended period of time is especially important since the measurements of higher levels of irregularity (higher order aberrations) will be used to create the individualized laser treatment plan. Rigid gas permeable lenses may need to be left out for a longer period of time for the cornea the return to it’s natural state.
Regardless of whether you choose to have refractive surgery, it is wise to have a current pair of glasses as back-up. There are a number of conditions including infection or injury which may require that you stay out of contact lenses, and it is difficult to obtain accurate glasses measurements in these situations. An up to date pair of glasses will allow you to be more functional during times when you may not be able to wear contacts.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary assessment contact us at Western Laser Eye Associates.