Can I wear cosmetic contact lenses after Epi-LASIK?
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.
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: