Having eye surgery may impact your ability to wear contact lenses. Soft contact lenses are designed for uniform, smooth corneas and eyes without any structural abnormalities. However, when surgery is performed on an eye, it can result in the eye having either an abnormal shape or may weaken the eye and make traditional contact lens wear difficult. In these cases, specialty contact lenses may be the best option to correct vision while maintaining good comfort and eye health.
Types of Eye Surgery
There are four main categories of eye surgeries: surgery to the front of the eye (cornea), surgery on the lens (cataract surgery), surgery on the back of the eye (retina), and surgery for glaucoma.
Retina surgery rarely leads to any abnormalities that impact contact lens wear.
The other types of surgery have a small possibility each of impacting the ability to wear soft contact lenses.
Each of these surgeries must be performed with a risk and benefits comparison. If the need for the surgery is high enough, the potential risk of having to stop soft contact lens wear may be justified.
Corneal Eye Surgery
Surgery on the cornea is the most common surgery to require some form of specialty contact lens after the surgery.
Corneal surgeries include radial keratotomy (RK), LASIK, PRK, and corneal transplant surgery.
Of these surgeries, corneal transplant surgery is the most invasive and most likely to alter the shape of the front of the eye in a way that prevents successful soft contact lens wear.
RK is rarely performed today, but patients who have had RK in the past may have developed changes that can reduce the comfort and ability to fit a soft contact lens.
LASIK and PRK are both safe procedures generally and if contact lens wear is impacted, it is likely due to increased dry eye symptoms following the surgery.
Note from Dr. Woo: Thank you Dr. Waite for this kind referral!
We had the pleasure of seeing a 65-year-old white female for a contact lens evaluation. She had cataract surgery in 2009 in the right eye, but the PCIOL dislodged into the posterior segment and she needed surgery to retrieve the intraocular lens and place an anterior intraocular lens. That lens also dislodged and she had to have another surgery to repair it again. She then suffered another lost anterior IOL which is still floating around in the posterior segment.
Her cornea was traumatized from all the surgeries, so she ended up having a corneal transplant (DSEK) in the right eye. She also has a tube shunt in the right eye for glaucoma. Essentially at this point, she is aphakic, and her doctors wanted her to be fitted with a contact lens to see if her vision could improve, instead of going through another potentially risky surgery.
We fit her with the Rose K 2 Post Graft due to her DSEK and with a 7.70 BC, the lens was centering quite nicely. Without glasses, she can see Count Fingers with the right eye, but with the contact lens, she was achieving 20/60 vision and was super thrilled. We will hopefully be ordering her lens soon and getting her on the road to clearer vision. Thanks again to Dr. Waite for trusting me with this special case.
Lens Eye Surgery (Cataract Surgery)
The most common eye surgery performed is cataract surgery. This procedure has a very low risk and is tremendously beneficial for patients who have reduced vision from cataracts.
In the unlikely event that cataract surgery has complications, specialty contact lenses can be used to help improve the vision and comfort of the eye.
Glaucoma Eye Surgery
There is a multitude of glaucoma surgeries that are minimally invasive, but these are generally only successful for early or mild glaucoma.
In more severe cases of glaucoma, surgeries such as trabeculectomy or trabeculoplasty are indicated.
These more advanced procedures may alter the shape of the front of the eye and prevent any wearing of typical contact lenses.
Specialty Contact Lenses After Surgery
No matter what surgery was performed, if soft contact lenses are no longer able to be worn comfortably and provide clear vision, specialty contact lenses may be used.
These lenses include scleral contact lenses and rigid gas-permeable contact lenses.
These hard contact lenses can be fit to abnormal corneas and can be ordered with specific measurements and made to fit abnormal corneas.