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If, like many of us, you require vision correction for a problem like myopia (short sightedness), hypermetropia (long sightedness) or astigmatism, there are three main options available - glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery. 

The eye is our most important sensory organ. If, like many of us, you require vision correction for a problem like myopia (short sightedness), hypermetropia (long sightedness) or astigmatism, there are three main options available - glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery. Keep in mind that one is not necessarily better than the other and each of these options to correct your vision has its advantages and disadvantages.  Here’s some information to help you decide which is best for you.

Glasses

Glasses are the most common and effective form of vision correction. Fashionable, individually customised and affordable they are able to correct every vision need. But, if they don’t suit your lifestyle and you’re looking for an option that allows you to be more active and with a natural look, you may wish to consider contact lenses or laser eye surgery.

Advantages:

Easy to wear - modern frames and glasses lenses are lighter and more comfortable than previously

Protection - glasses help protect the eye against dirt, dust and insects

Fashionable - colours and shapes to suit your personality and if desired a fashion statement

Easy maintenance - glasses require very little cleaning and maintenance and you don’t need to touch your eyes, thereby reducing the risk of infection. They are also cheaper (unless you break them!) as they don’t need to be replaced as often.

Disadvantages:

Uncomfortable - glasses with strong dioptre values can be uncomfortably thick and heavy and make your eyes look magnified or minified. Sometimes they can get in your way, for instance when lying on your side, while watching TV or reading

Require multiple pairs - some people require distance glasses for driving and then reading glasses for computer work

Glasses create a barrier - they are an unnatural, distracting barrier between your eyes and the world. Your vision is not always clear in the periphery and frames block the view

You can’t go near water with them - glasses fog up with changes in temperature, in the sauna, hot pools, they get mist and droplets on them in the rain and you need to remove them for showering or swimming. This makes it difficult finding family and friends as you come out of the water at the beach

You are unable to wear glasses for most sporting activities - you just can’t run, jump and play without the risk of your glasses falling off and breaking

Expensive sunglasses - choosing prescription sunglasses is both limiting in choice and expensive.

 

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are corrective lenses worn “in contact” with the eye. These small plastic lenses are often the first alternative to wearing glasses. Modern and custom produced contact lenses allow for precise correction of almost all types of vision problems - short and far-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia (these function like progressive lenses on the eye and are known as multifocal contact lenses). If you wear contact lenses full time, you should also have an up-to-date prescription pair of glasses in case you need to stop wearing your contacts due to an eye infection or irritation or you need to give your eyes a break. Contact lenses have some benefits over glasses, although they can’t give you all of the benefits offered by laser eye surgery.

Advantages:

Alternative if you don’t like glasses - if you don’t like wearing glasses, or don’t feel that they suit you, or don’t wish to announce that you are middle aged with reading glasses, contact lenses can provide an alternative

They provide a better field of view - contact lenses follow the curvature of your eye so sideways vision is also sharp and not interrupted by an edge, as with some spectacles

Freedom to be more active -  contact lenses are less restrictive than glasses when it comes to playing some sports

Affordable sunglasses - a whole shop of fashionable, functional and affordable sunglasses is available to contact lens wearers.

Disadvantages

Not permanent - contact lenses are not a long term solution and you will need to keep re-purchasing them and wear them to keep seeing the benefits

There’s a risk of infection - you will need to get used to touching your eye taking the lenses in and out each day to clean them, or when you go to sleep, and that brings a risk of eye infection. To keep this risk low you’ll need to ensure good hygiene, clean thoroughly or wear daily disposable lenses - which are more expensive

They’re inconvenient - contact lenses can fall out and get lost. Always remember to carry spare lenses and cleaning fluid with you. When travelling you may find yourself carrying a pair of glasses as a back up

You can’t go near water with them - this can result in an infection if you do

Dry eyes - wearing contact lenses too long disrupts the oxygen supply to the eye. Check your contact lenses have good oxygen permeability. People who suffer from dry eye should wear hard lenses. Some people get used to the feeling of contacts quickly, others always feel that there is something in their eye

Not good for the environment - disposable daily plastic contact lenses often end up in our oceans and that is not good for the environment.

 

Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery is a permanent form of vision correction that allows you to live spontaneously and go with the flow. It is proven to correct both short and long sightedness, as well as astigmatism. It works by using a laser to reshape the eye’s cornea (surface of your eye) - to correct focusing errors with extreme precision. Laser eye surgery adjusts your focus in the same way as wearing contact lenses or glasses - without the inconvenience. It is not only a permanent solution, it’s bespoke - customised to your individual visual requirements, because everyone’s eyes are unique. Laser eye surgery has been available for over 30 years and over 30 million people world wide are enjoying being free of the dependence on glasses or contact lenses. There are a range of procedures, such as Femto-LASIK, LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis), LASEK (laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy), PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), and the newer ReLEx SMILE treatment method. Your ophthalmologist will be able to guide you as to which method is best for your eyes and lifestyle. Patients should be over 18 years, your eye prescription would not have changed within the last two years and the cornea must also be of a certain thickness. With an experienced doctor, this is a very low-risk surgery.

Advantages

Freedom from glasses and contact lenses - the majority (98%) of people have 20:20 vision the day after their surgery. Some people may still require a pair of glasses for close reading or driving at night.

Permanent result - the laser changes the shape of the cornea for good. This means it is a permanent fix. Some people (less than 3%) require a touch up due to over or under healing of the eye. This can be easily corrected and is usually fixed at 3-6 months and included in the original cost of the procedure.

Quick to have the procedure - the actual (pain free) procedure takes around 15 minutes and the laser itself is over in under 20 seconds

Active lifestyle - swimming, ski-ing, bush walking, running, going out in the evening, waking up in the morning are all normal activities you can now do without wearing glasses or contact lenses

Affordable sunglasses - a whole shop of fashionable, functional and affordable sunglasses is available to choose from.

Disadvantages

Temporary dry eyes after surgery - these symptoms can last up to twelve weeks as the eye heals. Your surgeon will provide you with eye drops to ease this

More costly upfront - laser eye surgery seems expensive as a one off cost but when you consider the lifetime cost of vision correction with glasses and contacts it is actually a very affordable alternative. For many people laser eye surgery is not only seen as a way to save money; it’s a way to see and live life with day-to-day clear and unhindered vision

Side effects - as with any type of surgery there is a small risk. This can be reduced by choosing an experienced surgeon and a reputable clinic.

 

Bowen Eye Clinic, a purpose built laser eye surgery facility onsite with Bowen Hospital and specialises in providing excellence in Laser Eye Surgery. We are Wellington's premier laser eye clinic with the latest treatments for short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism.

Dr Reece Hall offers free laser assessments in Wellington, Palmerston North, Nelson, and Waikanae. He has over 14 years of experience and is New Zealand's only laser eye surgeon who has completed two overseas fellowships in laser eye surgery and has a Masters degree in refractive surgery. You are in safe hands with Dr Reece Hall. Call 0800 69 2020 or email info@boweneye.co.nz for an appointment.