DES MOINES, Iowa — Mask wearing has created a unique burden for people who wear corrective lenses. From glasses getting fogged up, to contact lenses causing more eye fatigue, people are starting to get fed up. But since masks are necessary for protecting against COVID-19, that means some people are turning to corrective surgery.
The Wolfe Eye Clinic in West Des Moines has seen a 20% increase in Lasik operation from of this year to date, compared to the same time period in 2019. Ophthalmologist Reid Turner specializes in refractive, cataract and lasik surgery as well as cornea transplants. He said that more people have come in saying mask wearing with their lenses has become a concern.
Dr. Turner said that one main question he asks patients is how do their vision issues impact their current lifestyle. People are able to sign up for a free Lasik consultation at the Wolfe Eye Clinic where they can go over their lifestyle needs and determine whether their eyes are healthy enough to handle a corrective surgery.
Although glasses fogging up is a more obvious problem, people with contact lenses are also facing unique challenges with face mask wearing. If they are wearing their contacts for longer time periods now that the weather is changing, their eyes are more likely to dry up.
According to Dr. Turner contacts, "can be like a sponge" and through prolonged wear pick up things in the air that leads to eye irritation. Then when people take a couple days off from wearing their contacts in preparation for a Lasik consultation, they may begin to notice their eyes feel better. Lens intolerance happens with more frequent contact lens wearing.
"There's a reason why Lasik is one of the most popular surgeries on the planet," Dr Turner said. "It's because it's safety profile's really established and the satisfaction rate is really high. Over 98 percent of patients would choose Lasik again."
Although Lasik is considered an elective operation Dr. Turner explained that because it does not require an overnight hospital stay, it is not restricted under COVID-19 guidelines. It does not put undue pressure on to the health system. It is done with patients fully awake, but medicated. Dr. Turner remarked his patients say Lasik was more comfortable than a dentist appointment.