Laser Eye Surgery vs. Glasses vs. Contact lenses

22 November 2022

Author: Ada Yang


There are different ways to correct weakness in vision. The most common non-surgical options include glasses and contact lenses, while a popular surgical procedure to correct vision is laser eye surgery. We will look at the benefits and drawbacks of each of these options and discuss the costs, convenience, safety and environmental impact.

How They Work

Glasses – Eyeglasses have a frame with either glass or plastic lenses which sit on top of the nose, supported by two legs. With nearsightedness, the image is focused in front of the retina whereas with farsightedness the image is focused behind it. When you go for an eye test, based on the outcome of your eye examinations, the optometrist will write a prescription for glasses. The lenses in the glasses will bend the light to focus on the correct spot of your retina, improving your vision.


Contact lenses – Contact lenses are small circular lenses that are placed directly onto your eye to correct your vision. Contact lenses are similar to glasses in the way they correct vision.  Contact lenses, like glasses, alter the direction of the light rays to ensure it meets the retina at the point which provides good focus.


Laser eye surgery – We offer two types of laser eye surgery at Ultralase and they are LASIK and LASEK. Laser eye surgery involves using a laser to correct your vision by changing the cornea shape at the front of the eye. For the LASIK surgery the surgeon will first apply a laser onto the eyes in order to create the flap followed by a secondary laser which is applied to correct the prescription.


LASEK is more suitable for people who have thin corneas or if you are involved with contact sports such as rugby and martial arts. During LASEK surgery you will be given anaesthetic to ensure you don’t feel discomfort during the procedure and drops of alcohol solution are applied to soften the corneal cells. Shortly after, a laser is applied to your eyes in order to reshape your cornea; the laser will be programmed to your prescription making sure you have the correct vision after. Once the laser has been applied, the cells will be gently repositioned back in place.


The cost for glasses can be high as they can range from £20 to around £180 for designer glasses. Most people change their glasses once every few years, either because their prescription has changed, or just to replace them with something in a newer style. Lenses with special features such as anti-reflective coating cost even more. The average cost for a pair of glasses is £50 and if you were to replace them every year for 10 years, it works out to £500. However, if you are buying a pair of designer glasses for £150 every year, it could potentially cost you £1,500 depending on if you replace them twice a year or once a year.


People often opt for contact lenses because, aesthetically, they may feel it is a better option compared to glasses. Contact lenses can either be disposable, for daily use or extended wear. Prices average £50 for daily lenses for a 3 month supply. That’s the price for one eye because, depending on your prescription, you may require different lenses for your left and right eye. This will average £2,000 in 10 years. On top of that you’ll need to purchase cleaning solutions, disinfectants and saline solutions which is an added cost. 


At Ultralase we charge a fixed price of £1,995 per eye and we don’t have any hidden costs in addition to this. No matter what prescription you have, we charge the same price. This is likely to work out cheaper than glasses and contact lenses in the long run. Compared to glasses and contact lenses, you’re likely to end up saving more money instead of having to replace your glasses and contact lenses so often.


Ease of Use

Glasses can be a pain to have and maintain every day, especially when it rains a lot because the pair of glasses can fog up and reduce your ability to see. Even when you are cooking or baking, your glasses often fog up due to the steam. Many people find that glasses are hard to maintain because you need to clean them properly, especially when frames and lenses can be quite delicate, requiring special care. Glasses need to be stored away carefully back in their case to reduce the chance of scratching them and to prevent dust from settling on the lenses.


People often find contact lenses inconvenient because you need to purchase them on a regular basis. This is especially true when you use daily lenses where you dispose of them after you have used them for the day. Monthly contact lenses also require more effort as you need to make sure they are cleaned and stored properly before you wear them again the next day. Contact lens maintenance can be complicated, especially when you need to disinfect the lenses every day.


Laser eye surgery is a simple process and the recovery period is typically very quick. It is safe and the procedure itself is only 10-20 minutes, as it is done by the laser machine which has the correct prescription for each person. Laser eye surgery can also correct problems such as near-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism and we treat a wide range of prescriptions.  

Freedom & Physical Activity

You may find that wearing glasses restricts you from playing your favourite sport or taking part in physical activity.  Some people with these issues purchase sports glasses as they can offer eye protection, however a drawback is that they are expensive and often uncomfortable.

Contact lenses do offer more freedom with certain activities. However, if your favourite sport is swimming then you should avoid wearing contact lenses while in the water. When water enters your eyes this can cause the contact lenses to move out of place and infection can occur in the cornea. Even though people often find contact lenses more convenient compared to glasses, we suggest avoiding them for water-based activities.

After opting for laser eye surgery, 98% of our patients achieved driving standard vision, enjoying freedom from glasses and contact lenses. Below are some recommended times you need to wait for recovery after having laser eye surgery:

  • Rugby – 3 months
  • Football – 3 months
  • Badminton – 1 week
  • Table tennis – 1 week
  • Make-Up – 2 weeks
  • Sunbeds – 8 weeks
  • Smoking – 1 week
  • Driving – 7-14 days

Laser eye surgery has a number of benefits when compared directly to contact lenses and glasses. Patients often tell us having laser treatment saves them time and money over the years that follow, as well as giving them visual freedom. If you are looking to have laser eye surgery book your FREE Consultation with us or call us on 0800 988 6390.

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