You can’t see clearly. What are your options?

Your eyes are healthy and all, it’s just that you don’t see well. Maybe you can thank one or both of your parents, as most eyeglass prescriptions are passed from parents to their children. It is not ideal, but it is the reality. Of course, if given the choice, you would have chosen differently, however we get what we get. Or do we?

Actually you have four vision correction options.

Option one: Just be blurry all the time and hope you don’t bump into too much. Not really a functional or healthy option, and certainly not an option that any eye doctor would recommend, but it’s there.

Option two: Eyeglasses. Since walking around blurry is not really an option in our world, your true first option is to wear glasses. Not too bad of an idea, right? Heck, sometimes people who don’t even need glasses wear them – it’s a very trendy hipster thing to do. They are an important part of the persona for some famous people (think Drew Carey), and can even make some celebrities and sports figures look a little more intelligent, so there you go! On the other hand, some people really hate the way they look in glasses or they get tired of the red marks and bumps on their nose and behind their ears. Others just simply live too active of a lifestyle to wear glasses all the time. Ever tried yoga or skiing in a pair of glasses? Not ideal. So, for those reasons, some people look into other options, and, really, there are only two options left: Contact lenses or Refractive Surgery. Both of these options, like all medical treatments, have risks and benefits.

Option three: Wearing contacts, for many people, is an attractive option because contacts offer “vision without the frame.” However, some people do not like to touch their own eyes or have things around their eyes, so contacts won’t work for them. Of course limits on wearing time and hygiene requirements can also limit the freedom that contacts can provide – the “contact lens care ritual” replaces the frame on the face. Wearing contacts is sometimes incorrectly perceived to be zero risk. This is not necessarily true. The FDA provides helpful information about the risks of contact lenses.

Unfortunately, many people care for or wear their contacts in an unhealthy way, subjecting themselves to potentially higher risk of eye infections, corneal ulcers, and other, sometimes irreversible eye conditions. Some of the bigger “contact lens use offenders” are patients who sleep in contacts that aren’t FDA approved for overnight use, or clean them with their own saliva or tap water. There are people out there who haven’t changed their contacts in months. Believe it or not, it happens. Most of these patients recall the lengthy sermon on proper contact lens care that they received from their eye doctor and will sheepishly admit that they know it’s not good for their eyes to do these things, but many choose to continue these bad habits.

When a patient chooses to wear contact lenses, it is important that the patient commits themselves to following the rules and recommendations made by their eye doctor to reduce the risks of infection. Often, contact lens wearers are not completely comfortable spilling the beans with their eye doctor about how they actually use their contact lenses. After all, that doctor read the patient the “contact lens riot act” when they were first prescribed, and really, who wants to be the patient that says, “Yeah doc, I heard you, but I just chose to do differently. Am I going to hurt my eyes?” This article originally published in 2013 and revised in 2015 provides some candid answers and rationale for the most common contact lens grievances not disclosed to eye care professionals. Contact Lens Hygiene Questions

Option four: LASIK or Refractive Surgery. Refractive Surgery is the field of ophthalmology that specializes in eliminating or reducing a patient’s need for eyeglasses. LASIK by far is the most popular form of Refractive Surgery performed in the world today. People frequently consider having LASIK because they are dissatisfied with their current vision correction options and would love to live a life free of contacts and/or glasses. As exciting as this proposition may be, it doesn’t take long before the person starts to wonder about the risks and what could go wrong if they have LASIK.

LASIK is not as popular of a solution as contacts in general because, well, it’s scary for most people. Simply put, too many people think LASIK is risky, and contacts are safe. Is that perception understandable? Of course it is. Is it factual? Not according to William Mathers, MD, a leading infectious disease eye surgeon at Casey Eye Institute. You can read about his study comparing the risks of contact lenses to LASIK here.

It is rare to find a person who actually enjoys their daily contact lens ritual or appreciates having a frame on their face while trying to play basketball. Most people would prefer to be free to get up, shower & go, and most people would prefer to be able to play sports and be active without continually having to push their frame back up their nose. And then there is the cost component.

Many people cringe to think of the money they have spent already in life on correcting their vision, and would certainly prefer to change that trend. Sure, if a person has been living with the need for vision correction for 10, 20, 30 years, they get used to it. It’s normal for them. But just because the person is used to it doesn’t mean they like it or that it actually works well for their lifestyle. And that’s what gets people thinking about having LASIK instead.

What tends to happen though is that as much as a person truly would prefer not to be dependent on glasses or contacts, it doesn’t take long before the person starts to wonder about what could go wrong. And that fear of the unknown is what keeps many people from having LASIK, because the person tends to think, “Yeah, these are a hassle, and I don’t like spending the money every year, but I know they work.” Translation: “My contacts don’t scare me and LASIK does.”

Naturally, it is wise for every patient who needs vision correction to consider and weigh the risks of their vision correction options. What is important in weighing your options is to have the facts.

In our experience with literally tens of thousands of LASIK patients, we have seen hundreds of examples where the patient was concerned about having LASIK for reasons that are simply not realistic. By example, some patients are scared of having LASIK because when they think of lasers, they think about lasers like in Star Wars or James Bond movies, and they are surprised to learn that LASIK technology is very different, that the patient does not actually see the laser’s treatment happening during the procedure.

Other patients are anxious about having LASIK because they wonder if they could do something during the procedure to affect their outcome because they don’t know about today’s modern LASIK technology that uses high-tech eye tracking systems to follow eye movement during the procedure to increase the accuracy of the treatment.

LASIK is a 15 minute outpatient procedure that is performed right in the doctor’s office. Visual outcomes for LASIK at 20/20 Institute are by most people’s standards impressive. Over 97% of the patients that have LASIK at 20/20 Institute achieve 20/20 vision or better without the use of glasses or contact lenses*. When a patient is properly selected as a risks of LASIK here directly from the FDA website. If you are considering LASIK, you should discuss your specific risks with your LASIK Specialist Eye Doctor.

This article has reviewed the four most popular options for viable vision correction. The good news is that even if your parents dealt you a blurry hand to play, you do have several options that could make things clear.