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Refractive Error: Treatment Pros and Cons

Topic Overview

Treatments for refractive error
Type of correction Advantages Disadvantages
Eyeglasses
  • The simplest, safest way to correct refractive errors, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism
  • Most people can wear glasses.
  • Accurate and predictable vision correction to within 0.50 diopters of the desired result
  • Less expensive than contact lenses or surgery; easier to take care of than contact lenses
  • Unlikely to cause side effects because they never touch the eyeball itself
  • Available everywhere and can be changed easily as your vision changes
  • Unacceptable in some types of work (such as firefighting) or in active sports (although some athletes wear prescription goggles during sporting events)
  • You may feel they are inconvenient, uncomfortable, annoying (they tend to fog up in humid or cold environments, for example), or unattractive.
  • Can be broken or lost
Contact lenses
  • Predictable vision correction
  • Eliminate the need to wear eyeglasses all the time
  • Provide better peripheral (side) vision than eyeglasses
  • A wide range of lens types is available to meet individual needs.
  • Cost more than eyeglasses but less than surgery (though surgery may be less expensive in the long run if it allows you to go without glasses or contacts)
  • You may prefer the way you look wearing contacts rather than eyeglasses.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting your contact lenses can be complicated and inconvenient. You need good hand-eye coordination to clean, insert, and remove the lenses.
  • Increased risk of corneal infections, scratches, and scrapes
  • Can be easily damaged or lost
  • Some people can't wear contact lenses comfortably.
  • Yearly costs include the lenses and the solutions to clean and disinfect them. The costs are greater for people who have to replace their lenses or change prescriptions regularly.
Surgery
  • You may no longer need to wear corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) after surgery.
  • You will not have to bother with the daily cleaning and care of contact lenses.
  • May turn out to be less expensive than glasses or contact lenses over the long term, if you don't need corrective lenses after surgery
  • Some people still need corrective lenses after surgery.
  • Long-term risks are still unknown.
  • Risk of complications (though complications that threaten vision are rare)
  • Skilled surgeons may not be available in all areas.
  • Surgery and follow-up care are expensive.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Douglas Rett, OD, FAAO -

Current as ofFebruary 16, 2018


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