Is it safe to wear coloured contact lenses after undergoing LASIK surgery? | Health

In the realm of refractive eye surgeries, LASIK has firmly established itself as a leading procedure that has been transformative for millions where the ability to see clearly without the aid of glasses or contact lens has been a game-changer for many but post-surgery, the eyes undergo a significant adjustment period and it is during this time that patients need to be particularly vigilant about their eye health. An inquiry that frequently comes up during post-operative consultations is the safety of wearing coloured contact lenses after LASIK.

Is it safe to wear coloured contact lenses after undergoing LASIK surgery? (Photo by issam ammiche on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anurag Wahi, Senior Consultant at Sharp Eye Hospitals, shared, “To put it into context, LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, involves reshaping the cornea – the clear front surface of the eye. This is done by creating a flap, reshaping the underlying corneal tissue using a laser, and then repositioning the flap. Now, while the human eye has a remarkable ability to heal post-LASIK, the alterations made during the procedure render the cornea more receptive to external agents and potential irritants.”

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He revealed, “Coloured contact lenses, especially those that are cosmetic and non-prescriptive, may pose certain risks to a post-LASIK eye. Unlike their clear counterparts, coloured lenses often have reduced oxygen permeability. A diminished oxygen supply to the cornea can lead to corneal hypoxia, a condition where the cornea is deprived of adequate oxygen. Over time, this can potentially lead to complications such as neovascularization, where new blood vessels invade the cornea leading to vision impairment. Another feared complication is microbial keratitis, a painful and potentially sight-threatening corneal infection.”

He added, “After one month of surgery and under the doctor’s guidance, not through local opticians. Patients who have entrusted their eye surgery are advised to rely on their medical team’s expertise regarding the type of coloured contact lenses prescribed to them, typically for cosmetic purposes and not for regular use and are cared for with strict hygiene practices can make a world of difference in preserving the health and clarity of one’s vision.”

Dr Bhupesh Singh, Trustee and Senior Opthalmologist at Bharti Eye Hospitals, echoed, “In the ever-evolving world of ophthalmology, LASIK stands out as a revolutionary procedure that has altered the landscape of vision correction. The postoperative period, however, is crucial, and patients are advised to be highly protective of their eyes to ensure optimal outcomes. Among the myriad of questions that arise post-surgery, the use of coloured contact lenses is a recurrent topic of interest. Many are drawn to coloured contact lenses for the cosmetic enhancement they provide. They offer an avenue for personal expression and can be a fun way to change one’s appearance. However, post-LASIK, the corneal landscape is different. The procedure involves creating a flap in the cornea, adjusting its shape using a precise laser, and then repositioning the flap. This altered corneal flap, while adept at healing, remains a potential vulnerability zone.”

He cautioned, “Coloured lenses, especially those not specifically designed for post-surgical eyes, can pose certain challenges. The fit is paramount in contact lens wear. A lens that doesn’t fit well may hinder the natural tear exchange, leading to dry eye symptoms which can be exacerbated in post-LASIK eyes. The tinting or colouring process in some lenses can compromise the material’s oxygen transmissibility. Oxygen is essential for corneal health, and any compromise can predispose the eye to conditions such as corneal edema, where the cornea swells due to fluid buildup. It’s vital for patients to be informed and cautious. If the allure of coloured lenses is too strong to resist, it’s imperative to choose lenses that meet medical standards, are possibly made of silicone hydrogel (known for high oxygen permeability) and have been vetted by an eye care specialist. Regular follow-ups, practising good lens hygiene and being aware of any changes in vision or comfort are essential steps in ensuring the health of post-LASIK eyes.”

Debapriya Mukhopadhyay, Head of Professional Optometry Services (Central Team) – Aqualens at Lenskart, concluded, “Your vision and comfort should remain your top priorities at all times and especially after LASIK surgery. It’s an exciting journey with endless opportunities to explore the world of coloured lenses but it’s crucial to make informed decisions about your eye health. Consulting a qualified optometrist and investing in good-quality, FDA-approved lenses made from best materials like silicone hydrogel is not just wise; it’s essential for preserving your eye health. In the fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in fast trends. However, the health of your eyes should always be the top priority. Consulting an optometrist ensures that your choice aligns with your eye health, offering both style and safety.”

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