LASIK Poses Lower Risk of Infection Than Contacts

Pharmacy Times, May 2017 Skin & Eye Health, Volume 83, Issue 5

Although contact lenses are often considered to be safer for patients’ eyes than ocular surgery, the results of a recent study suggest that undergoing LASIK carries a lower risk of infection than wearing contacts over time.

Although contact lenses are often considered to be safer for patients’ eyes than ocular surgery, the results of a recent study suggest that undergoing LASIK carries a lower risk of infection than wearing contacts over time.

The study, published in the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, performed a meta-analysis of literature from December 2014 to July 2015, comparing the incidence of microbial keratitis, an infection of the cornea caused by bacteria or a virus, in contact lens wearers with the incidence of microbial keratitisin in patients who received LASIK.

The research team found that patients who used soft contact lenses daily for one year experienced fewer cases of microbial keratitis than those who had undergone LASIK (approximately 2 fewer cases per 10,000). However, given that LASIK is performed only once while contact lenses are worn continuously, the researchers determined that patients who used contact lens daily for 5 years were more likely to develop microbial keratitis than those in the LASIK group (11 more cases per 10,000).

“In our experience with contact lens infections, some patients have lost vision and have needed a corneal transplant, or even lost the eye. There are cases where LASIK could have prevented this vision loss,” said study author Aaron Waite, MD, in a press release. “LASIK does carry a rare risk of infection, however, it is a one-time risk compared to a continuous risk for infection in contact lens users.” —By Ryan Marotta