How Long Before Lasik Stop Wearing Contacts?

Choosing to undergo LASIK eye surgery is a significant decision that promises the freedom of clear vision without the need for corrective lenses. 

If you’re considering LASIK, one of the essential steps in the preparation process involves discontinuing the use of contact lenses. 

Understanding the timeline and rationale behind this recommendation can help ensure the best possible outcomes from your procedure.


Why Stop Wearing Contacts Before LASIK?

Contact lenses rest directly on the surface of your eyes and can gradually alter the shape of your cornea over time. LASIK surgery involves reshaping the cornea to correct vision problems, so it’s crucial that your cornea returns to its natural shape before the procedure. If your cornea is not in its natural state, the measurements taken during your pre-LASIK eye exam may be inaccurate, potentially leading to suboptimal results from the surgery.

Additionally, contact lenses can cause microscopic abrasions or changes to the corneal epithelium, which can interfere with the healing process post-surgery. Ensuring your cornea is in the best possible condition before LASIK can help minimize potential complications and improve your overall results.


General Guidelines: How Long to Stop Wearing Contacts

The timeline for discontinuing contact lens usage before LASIK varies depending on the type of lenses you wear:

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are the preferred choice for most users. It is generally recommended to stop using them at least 1 to 2 weeks before your LASIK consultation and surgery. This break allows the cornea to return to its natural state, reducing any potential distortions.

Toric Lenses (for Astigmatism)

If you wear toric lenses, designed specifically for astigmatism, you may need to stop wearing them a bit earlier. The recommended period is usually 2 to 3 weeks prior to your LASIK evaluation.

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses

Rigid gas permeable lenses, also known as hard lenses, are more durable and offer better oxygen permeability but can significantly alter the corneal shape. If you wear RGP lenses, you should refrain from wearing them for at least 3 to 4 weeks prior to your evaluation and surgery.

Hybrid Lenses

Hybrid lenses merge the comfort of soft lenses with the sharp visual clarity of RGP lenses. Although less common, if you use hybrid lenses, you should consult your eye surgeon for specific instructions. Typically, you may be advised to stop wearing them for a duration between that of soft and RGP lenses, usually around 2 to 3 weeks.


Special Considerations

Extended or Continuous Wear Lenses

If you’re someone who wears extended or continuous wear lenses, which you might keep in overnight or for several days at a time, the guidelines are generally the same as for daily wear lenses of the same type. However, because these lenses can have a more prolonged impact on corneal shape, your eye doctor may suggest a slightly longer period for your corneas to stabilize.

Your Specific Case

It’s important to note these are general guidelines, and individual cases may vary. Your ophthalmologist will provide you with personalized instructions based on your specific eye health, the type of lenses you wear, and other factors affecting your vision.


The Importance of Following Guidelines

Following the recommended guidelines for discontinuing contact lens use before LASIK is critical for successful surgery and recovery. Ignoring these guidelines can lead to:

  • Inaccurate corneal measurements
  • Potential complications during surgery
  • Suboptimal surgical outcomes

Ensuring your eyes are in their natural state allows your surgeon to make precise adjustments, improving your chances of achieving optimal visual results.


What Happens During the Consultation?

In your LASIK consultation, your ophthalmologist will conduct a series of tests to map and measure your cornea. Accurate measurements are critical to customizing the LASIK procedure to your eyes. These tests may include:

  • Corneal Topography: This examination generates a detailed map of your cornea’s curvature. 
  • Pachymetry: This examination assesses the thickness of your cornea.
  • Wavefront Analysis: This assesses how light travels through your eye to detect any aberrations.

By ensuring your cornea is in its natural state, these tests can provide precise data, enabling the surgeon to plan the most effective treatment.


Steps to Prepare for Your Pre-LASIK Exam

  1. Schedule Your Pre-LASIK Exam Early: Plan your pre-LASIK exam several weeks in advance of your desired surgery date to accommodate the required period of not wearing contact lenses.
  2. Switch to Glasses: Once you’ve stopped wearing your contact lenses, switch to glasses. Ensure your glasses prescription is current to maintain clear vision throughout this transition period.
  3. Avoid Overwearing Contacts: In the weeks leading up to your designated stop date, avoid overwearing your contacts. Giving your eyes a break can help reduce any potential irritation or changes to your cornea.
  4. Heed Your Ophthalmologist’s Guidance: Always follow the tailored instructions given by your eye care professional. They know your eyes best and will guide you through the process safely and effectively.


What to Expect During the LASIK Procedure

On the day of your LASIK surgery, your surgeon will conduct a final check to ensure your cornea is appropriately shaped and ready for the procedure. The surgery is swift, typically lasting just 10 to 15 minutes per eye. Postoperative care instructions will be provided to promote healing and ensure the best possible results.


Final Thoughts

Preparing for LASIK involves more than just deciding you want the surgery. One of the key preparatory steps is discontinuing the use of contact lenses well in advance. By following the guidelines provided by your eye care professional, you can ensure the best possible outcome for your LASIK procedure.

If you have any questions or concerns about the time frame for stopping contact lens use before LASIK, consult with your ophthalmologist. They can provide tailored advice to ensure you’re fully prepared for your surgery.

Embarking on your LASIK journey is an exciting step toward clearer vision and greater freedom from corrective lenses. By taking proper precautions and following your surgeon’s guidelines, you’re setting yourself up for a successful and life-changing experience.


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