A new study finds that contact lens users who chose to have LASIK were more satisfied with their vision a year after the surgery – and even more satisfied after 2 and 3 years, according to the Cornea Research Foundation of America. The study is the first to directly compare satisfaction rates of contact lens wearers with those who opt for LASIK laser vision correction surgery.
According to Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses (https://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(16)30096-3/fulltext), former contact-lens users surveyed after LASIK surgery reported higher satisfaction rates than a control group that did not have LASIK and instead continued to use contacts. In follow-up surveys conducted 2 and 3 years after the procedure, LASIK satisfaction rates were consistently high, while contact lens satisfaction rates declined steadily. The study was conducted by the Cornea Research Foundation of America. Findings were published in the August 2016 issue of Ophthalmology.
The study suggests that of available vision correction options, LASIK produces the highest levels of satisfaction.
“The study found that patients who had eye surgery using modern LASIK technology had higher levels of satisfaction after 1, 2, and 3 years than people who continued to wear corrective lenses. This is the first study to compare LASIK satisfaction rates over time with a control group of individuals wearing contact lenses for vision correction. Without this control group, we might lose sight of LASIK outcomes relative to real-life vision correction options,” Francis W. Price, Jr. MD, lead investigator of the study and director of the Price Vision Group, said in the news release. “This patient-reported approach establishes a much-needed baseline and real-world assessment of LASIK and contact lens performance.”
The survey population consisted of 1,800 people from 20 research sites in the US. In the study, 694 (39 percent) comprised the control group that did not have LASIK and instead continued contact lens use; 819 (45 percent) were contact lens users who had LASIK; and 287 (16 percent) were eyeglass users who had LASIK. All subjects were given a survey at the beginning of the study to establish a baseline and annual follow-up surveys via email for three years.
Key findings from the study were:
- Contact lens satisfaction declined with time:
- The proportion expressing strong satisfaction with their contact lenses decreased from 63 percent at the start of the study to 54 percent at year 3.
- LASIK satisfaction remained consistently higher with time:
- 88 percent of former contact lens users and 77 percent of former glasses wearers reported being strongly satisfied with LASIK at year 3, consistent with the high satisfaction levels at years 1 and 2.
- LASIK significantly reduced night driving difficulties among former content lens wearers:
- Among former contact lens wearers, the proportion reporting no difficulty with night driving improved from 42 percent at baseline (wearing contacts) to 60 percent at three years after LASIK.
- Those without night vision issues such as starbursts or halos around bright lights improved from 49 percent at baseline (wearing contacts) to 60 percent at three years after LASIK.
- The study found that modern excimer lasers and ablation patterns can significantly improve night vision relative to contact lenses or glasses.
- LASIK had a better long-term safety profile:
- Each year, the self-reported rates of eye infections, abrasions, and corneal ulcers were over twice as high in the control group who continued using contact lenses as compared with the group who had LASIK.
- No significant increase in patients reporting depression:
- Among LASIK patients in the general population, a small but vocal group of individuals reported symptoms of depression after having LASIK. This study did not detect any significant increase in patients reporting feelings of depression relative to baseline or during the 1-, 2- or 3-year follow-up surveys in any of the vision correction groups, including after LASIK.
- Patients should be asked about any history of contact lens intolerance:
- Dry eye sensation was prevalent among the contact lens wearers in the study.
- Seventy-four (74) percent of those who wore glasses at baseline reported that they had tried and discontinued contact lens wear, often because of dry eye problems, suggesting that a tendency toward dry eyes may be common and not as obvious in LASIK candidates who primarily use glasses for vision correction. This suggests these patients should be asked about any history of contact lens intolerance.
The study is among the first to focus on findings from patient self-reported data providing new insight into patient perceptions of outcomes with health care. Dr. Price added, “Patient-reported outcomes give us a new way to evaluate treatment efficacy, going beyond standard clinical metrics.”
This latest validation of safety, effectiveness and resulting satisfaction associated with LASIK in the context of other vision correction options is particularly relevant to the burgeoning population of millennials, who have the highest rate of nearsightedness of any previous generation. Recent research reports the current rate of nearsightedness is nearly double that of 30 years ago. Importantly, the “Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses” study found that satisfaction was especially high among younger (< age 40) LASIK patient participants.