Contact lenses, glasses or laser eye procedure?
This is a question that most people suffering from short-sightedness will ponder. Eye glasses can be a stylish accessory, but their range of vision can be limited. Contact lenses enable more freedom, but they are more harmful to the eyes. A laser eye procedure seems expensive and frightening. What to do? The founder of KSA Vision Clinic, eye surgeon Dr Ants Haavel, gives advice.
There are more people with limited vision than one would think. In the United States, millions of laser eye procedures are performed every year, and the number of contact lenses and eye glasses sold each year reaches several million, too. As technology evolves, eye glasses become more fashionable, contact lenses become more comfortable and laser procedures are even safer. However, an increasing number of people have problems with their eyesight, given the increased usage of all kinds of electronic devices in our daily lives. “Contact lenses are relatively comfortable to wear, yet many doctors are sceptical about them. I wouldn’t be as radical, as they are suitable for many people,” says Ants Haavel.
However, based on his experiences he can tell that many people are careless with contact lenses, wearing them for too long, leaving them on overnight or cleaning them with tap water. “All those things make the eyes more sensitive which can make the eyes start to reject the contact lenses,” he warns. However, for some people, the eyes may not be able to tolerate contact lenses even with proper usage. “We get many patients who choose laser eye procedures as they don’t want to wear glasses anymore and their eyes don’t tolerate contact lenses.”
Fashion versus inconvenience
Many people can’t even bear the thought of “putting your fingers in your eyes” to put in contact lenses. Instead they choose in favour of either eye glasses or a laser eye procedure. “The eye glasses that are available today are cool and trendy, and many people wear them as fashion accessories. But it is better to wear glasses by choice, rather than out of necessity,” smiles Dr Haavel, as he tells how some patients ask for lenses with no prescription to be put in their favourite pair of glasses so that they can still occasionally wear them.
Whilst being a fashion statement, eye glasses can easily break, move whilst exercising or slip down the nose when sweating. They also can’t be worn in a sauna or when swimming. Many find eye glasses uncomfortable when travelling, too. “Glasses are more gentle on the eye than contact lenses, but the range of vision is limited. A person’s vision is limited by the size of the glasses and their peripheral vision is out of focus,” Dr Haavel explains.
Laser eye procedure patients have high demands
Once your eyesight has stabilised, your overall health is fine and the pre-procedure consultation has given the green light, you can choose a laser eye procedure to get rid of vision problems. Decades ago these operations were performed with a knife, followed by laser surgery which involved a cut on the cornea. Now the procedure can be done totally free of contact. “Correct, eye surgery has evolved leaps and bounds and today you can get perfect vision quickly, safely and with minimal discomfort,” Dr Haavel tells. In order to get the expected outcome there is a thorough pre-procedure examination. In addition to healthy eyes, a patient’s physical and mental health must be in order.
“We have performed procedures for decades and know that the patients must be carefully screened and chosen. An optimistic attitude and outlook has a direct link with good results and recovery times,” explains Ants Haavel, based on the experience of KSA Vision Clinic. “Therefore we only perform procedures on ideal candidates. When we tell patients that they are suitable for the Flow procedure, we are certain we will achieve good results.” About 40 per cent of the people who come for the initial consultation are not suitable for the procedure. Whilst the number may sound high, Dr Haavel would rather not accept a patient than regret it later.
To summarise, there is no single answer as to what is the best – eye glasses, contact lenses or laser eye procedure. It all depends on your lifestyle and expected quality of life. Some people are happy wearing contact lenses, others would never get rid of their glasses whilst many would do anything to get rid of their limited vision. Each to their own.