In many cases, patients who have had laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), or radial keratotomy (RK) will need to wear specialty contact lenses if they choose to wear them after surgery.
Many people who have refractive surgery are hoping to be free of the hassle of contacts and glasses. In some cases, people eventually go back to wearing contact at some point. There are various reasons they may need to wear contacts depending on what type of refractive surgery they had.
LASIK and PRK are two of the most common types of refractive surgery procedures. Usually, they provide the patient with perfect vision without additional correction with glass or contacts. In some cases, patients will require additional correction. This can be caused by the surgery being slightly off, which can be remedied with either a surgical enhancement or wearing contact or glasses.
Another reason you may need contacts or glasses after LASIK is due to aging. As you age, you may develop age-related presbyopia. It is common for those who have surgery in their 20s or 30s to begin having issues seeing things up close in the 40s or 50s. Many people with presbyopia opt to wear contacts rather than readers or glasses.
After LASIK surgery, the curvature of the periphery is increased. This causes the center of your cornea to flatten, called oblate topography. The more myopia you have corrected with LASIK, the bigger the difference you will have between your flat center and steep periphery.
On the other hand, if you underwent LASIK to correct hyperopia, your central cornea will be higher compared to your periphery. After surgery for either condition, it can be challenging for your eye doctor to fit you with contact lenses. It is a complex process to fit a post-surgical eye with contacts, so it is best to do your research and choose a doctor using the latest lens designs and innovative technologies.
Most patients can safely and effectively wear contact lenses following LASIK surgery. Patients who have had LASIK often require more optical stability than traditional soft hydrogel lenses can provide. Therefore many people consider rigid gas permeable lenses following surgery. These can be fitted more accurately to post-surgical eyes, but some patients find them inconvenient and uncomfortable.
Another option is the hybrid lens, which is designed to mix hard and soft contact lenses. These lens designs combine a GP center for consistent and crisp optics and a soft lens skirt for more comfortable and easier wear.