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Can I wear cosmetic contact lenses after Epi-LASIK?

February 14, 2013

This post is an add-on to my earlier post entitled: “Can I wear cosmetic contact lenses after LASIK?

I have several patients asking me if it is true that a person is allowed to wear contact lenses after Epi-LASIK since there is no cornea flap but not allowed to wear if they had LASIK done as there is a cornea flap.

In my earlier blog post, I mentioned that the answer is: “It depends”. This is the same for both LASIK and Epi-LASIK.

It depends on 2 main factors:

(1) Cornea curvature before treatment

(2) Amount of myopia (short-sightedness) treated

These 2 numbers will tell the doctor if you can still wear contact lenses after LASIK or Epi-LASIK. Your cornea will be less curved after LASIK and Epi-LASIK, if it is flatter than the lenses available from your optical shop, the lens will fit poorly on your eye and you will find it rather uncomfortable. Therefore you will need to custom make a contact lens to sit nicely on your flat cornea. This will cost quite a fair bit.

Now back to the topic on whether the cornea flap creates an issue:

Some people think the answer is no because the lens may damage the cornea flap. This is true if the person were to use the lens in the first week and remove the lens by pinching too hard on the cornea. I would suggest not to use cosmetic  contact lenses in the first month after LASIK so as to reduce the chance of injuring the cornea flap. Having said this, I use a medical grade contact lens to protect the cornea flap in some cases in the first 24 hours. This lens is placed in very gently and also removed very gently with a sterile instrument at the slit lamp.

Slit Lamp Lee Sao Bing

Slit Lamp

The same is true for Epi-LASIK. I would leave a contact lens in the eye for the first 4 to 5 days after the procedure to protect the cornea. This lens is removed very gently with the aid of a sterile instrument. I would not recommend the patient to put a lens into his/her eye and remove it with his/her fingers in the first month. This is because the surface of the cornea is fragile during this time period (especially in the first 1 to 2 weeks) and the surface cells (epithelium) of the cornea can be torn off by a hard pinching action on the cornea.

For more information regarding dos and don’ts after LASIK, please check out my other posts:

How to care for your eyes after LASIK.

How soon can I return to work after LASIK surgery.

Pregnancy, Breast-feeding, Sex & LASIK.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2013 5:57 pm

    This blog is provide lots of good idea for who having a eye surgery and your blog are very useful for me. Thanks a lot.

    • May 2, 2013 8:51 pm

      Hi,
      Thank you for your compliment. I am happy to hear that you find my blog useful.
      Cheers,
      Dr Lee

  2. Chloe Chai permalink
    May 25, 2013 10:11 pm

    Dear Dr Lee, I recently saw some comments posted by my friends in their fb and blogs that not everyone is suitable to undergo the amaris 750 LASIK treatment as it will cut away more cornea although the laser beam is thinner than the older laser machine. I also saw some posts about Epi LASIK which doesn’t require cornea flap. So may I know which patients are more suitable to go for Epi LASIK instead? And is it true that since Epi LASIK doesn’t involve cornea flap, it is a safer option?

    Thanks lots for addressing my queries.

    • May 26, 2013 8:19 am

      Dear Chloe,
      Epi LASIK does not involve making a cornea flap. You will hear many people say that this method is safer since it does not have a flap and that it is better for people who do contact sports. However, research has shown that the Intralase flap is very stable and the Intralase method has been approved for use in the US Military, even for Air Force pilots (http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Bladeless-IntraLase-LASIK-Adopted-by-US-Military-711513.htm). My patients return to contact sports 1 month after Intralase surgery.
      It would be a good idea for you to go for a pre-LASIK assessment. Your eye doctor will then recommend the most suitable method to treat your eye after reviewing your eye data.
      Regards,
      Dr Lee

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