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Contoura® vs. LASIK: A Comparison Guide

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Contoura® LASIK and other types of LASIK all use lasers to permanently reshape the cornea. The procedures correct common vision problems, including nearsightedness and astigmatism. 

HoweverBut, Contoura® uses advanced technology to customize your surgery. Crisper, clearer vision is the typical result. 

Key Facts About Contoura® vs. LASIK

  • In patients getting traditional LASIK, almost 91% get 20/20 vision or better. 
  • In patients getting Contoura® LASIK, nearly 65% get 20/16 vision or better, meaning they can see better than those with 20/20 vision, which is considered perfect. More than 93% get 20/20 vision or better.
  • Contoura® LASIK received U.S. Food and Drug (FDA) approval in 2013, making it a relative newcomer to the LASIK field. The FDA approved Contoura® for nearsightedness and astigmatism only (not farsightedness).
  • The Contoura® procedure involves measuring 22,000 points on your cornea before surgery starts. That data guides the laser during your surgery.

Contoura® vs. LASIK: Understanding Both Procedures

Contoura® and LASIK offer permanent solutions to common vision problems. Surgeons use lasers to reshape your cornea — the thin layers of cells at the front of your eye. 

Your cornea accepts light and focuses images on the light-sensitive cells in the back of your eye (the retina). If your cornea is improperly shaped, images focus in front of the retina, not on it. Blurry vision when looking at far-away objects results. 

LASIK reshapes the cornea, permanently altering where light focuses once it enters your eye.

How Does Traditional LASIK Surgery Work?

In traditional LASIK, doctors use detailed measurements to guide the surgery.

Your doctor will assess the following:

  • Corneal thickness
  • Vision prescription
  • Eye health

Your doctor creates a small cut in your cornea (a flap) and folds it back to access deeper tissues. Lasers reshape the cornea based on your doctor’s detailed measurements. 

In traditional LASIK, your doctor decides how much tissue to remove and the angle at which the laser works. It’s a very safe and effective procedure, especially when performed by experienced surgeons.

How Does Contoura® Vision Surgery Work?

Every cornea has hills and valleys. Your corneas are as unique as your fingerprints. Doctors using Contoura® measure that topographical surface with a measuring device called a Topolyzer. 

That machine measures 22,000 points on your cornea. The data flows into an algorithm that guides your doctor through your laser surgery. Precise measurements ensure that your doctor takes just enough tissue to fix your vision but not more than is required.

Comparing Vision Correction Procedures

LASIK and Contoura® are very similar. Either could be a good solution to common vision problems, but important differences separate them.

Contoura® LASIKTraditional LASIK 
Conditions treated Nearsightedness and astigmatismNearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
Success rateNearly 65% get 20/16 vision or better; more than 93% get at least 20/20 visionAbout 91% get 20/20 vision or better
Patient qualificationStable nearsightedness and astigmatism prescriptions; thinner corneas and sharp corneal angles accepted in most casesStable nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism prescriptions; thin corneas could disqualify patients
Cost $2,250–$3,000 per eye $2,250–$3,000 per eye
Surgery technique Detailed corneal measurements make the procedure fully customizedPre-surgical measurements guide your doctor’s decisions during surgery 
Recovery time 24 hours to resume normal activity 24 hours to resume normal activity 
Potential side effects Glare, halos, ghosting images, and blurring as tissues healDry eye, visual disturbances, and discomfort as tissues heal

Similarities Between Contoura® Vision & LASIK

Contoura® and LASIK are laser surgeries that reshape the cornea and permanently alter how your eyes process incoming light. After surgery, you won’t need to wear glasses or contacts to handle everyday activities like driving or folding laundry.

The surgical process is very similar. The following steps are involved:

  • Evaluation: Your doctor will examine your eyes closely. Detailed measurements can help your doctor determine which procedure seems right for your eyes, health, and vision goals. 
  • Surgery: Your doctor uses medications to numb your eyes. A suction device flattens your eyes, while tools keep your eyelids open. You’ll look at a light while the laser reshapes your eyes. This portion of the surgery takes just minutes. 
  • Recovery: LASIK surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures. You’ll go home the same day with medications and detailed recovery instructions. You’ll return to everyday activities within about 24 hours, but you’ll need to protect your eyes and use your medications as directed.

Contoura® and traditional LASIK are considered safe and effective procedures to correct common vision problems. If you’re interested in reducing your reliance on glasses or contacts, they could be right for you.

Differences Between Contoura® & LASIK

While Contoura® and LASIK are very similar, important differences exist. They could indicate that one type of surgery is better for you.

Technology Used

Contoura® adds technological advancements to an already safe and proven surgery. The Topolyzer’s measurement of 22,000 points on your cornea gives your surgeon a detailed understanding of the source of your visual issue. 

Detailed data can also move into the laser with Contoura®, guiding each cut made by the laser based on your very specific eye measurements. Researchers say this data can revolutionize LASIK surgery, giving surgeons what they need to make the right decisions for their patients. 

Potential Results

Both LASIK and Contoura® can permanently change your vision and reduce your reliance on glasses and contacts. But Contoura®’s detailed mapping can translate into superior results. 

Researchers say adding topographical mapping increases the likelihood of patients getting 20/16 vision after surgery. To put that number in perspective, these patients can see better than what was once considered perfect vision. 

Potential Complications 

Contoura®’s detailed mapping allows the laser to follow the very precise hills and valleys on your cornea. Since surgeons don’t take more tissue than required, your risk of post-surgical discomfort and side effects can drop. 

Researchers say people getting Contoura® surgery have a significant decrease in complaints, such as the following:

  • Glare
  • Halos 
  • Difficulty driving at night 
  • Reading difficulty 
  • Starbursts
  • Light sensitivity 

Out-of-Pocket Costs 

On average, all LASIK procedures cost between $2,250 and $3,000 per eye. But Contoura® procedures tend to fall at the upper end of this range. 

Surgeons must invest in the tools and software to perform these advanced procedures. And the mapping step can take extra time and a longer appointment. 


Since Contoura® is a relatively new surgery, some LASIK clinics haven’t invested in the machines and software. While it might be easy to find a surgeon trained and experienced in LASIK, finding someone with comparable Contoura® experience isn’t always easy. 

Comparing Qualifications for Vision Surgery

One important difference between LASIK and Contoura® exists. While LASIK is FDA approved to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, Contoura® is not FDA approved for farsightedness.

To qualify for either surgery, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Age: You must be 18 or older. 
  • Eye health: Your eyes must be healthy enough to heal after surgery. Conditions like glaucoma or cataracts could disqualify you. Thin corneas, big pupils, or very dry eyes could also make you ineligible.
  • Stable prescription: Your prescription must have stayed the same for at least a year. 
  • Good health: You don’t have an autoimmune disease, uncontrolled diabetes, or another issue that could impact healing.

To qualify for Contoura® surgery, you must meet the following prescription criteria:

  • Myopia: Your myopia prescription is stable and measures -8.0 diopters or less.
  • Astigmatism: Your astigmatism measures -3.0 diopters or less.

To qualify for LASIK, you must meet the following prescription criteria:

  • Myopia: Your myopia prescription is stable and measures up to -12 diopters.
  • Astigmatism: Your astigmatism prescription is stable and measures up to 6 diopters.
  • Hyperopia: Your hyperopia prescription is stable and measures up to 6 diopters. 

The FDA sets patient parameters, and sometimes, those rules speed up decision making. 

If you’re struggling with farsightedness, Contoura® isn’t right for you. The lasers haven’t been approved to treat this condition. 

If you’re nearsighted but your prescription measures more than -8.0 diopters, Contoura® may not be right for you. 

But if your eye measurements are unusual and your doctor thinks astigmatism is complicating your nearsightedness, Contoura® could deliver exceptional results with fewer complications. If your doctor thinks it’s the right solution for your eyes, this could be a good choice. 

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