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To investigate the impact and postoperative clinical recovery of long-term soft contact lens wear on the epithelial flap made during laser-assisted subepithelial keratomileusis (LASEK).In a prospective study, 371 patients (589 eyes) who underwent LASEK were divided into four groups (G1, G2, G3, G4) according to their length of soft contact lens wear. After the contact lens (CL) was removed 1 week after surgery, various symptoms – uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA), oedema of the corneal epithelium, spherical equivalent (SE) and haze degree – were recorded on day 1, and at 1 and 3 months postoperatively.There were no significant differences in corneal flap production among the first three groups that wore CLs, but various symptoms and UCVA were all different from the fourth group that did not wear CLs. There were statistically significant differences in oedema of corneal epithelium among the first three groups, and the degree of oedema was positively correlated with the CL wearing time. There were no significant differences in postoperative SE and haze in all four groups.Long-term soft CL wear can affect production of the epithelial flap and postoperative recovery, including various symptoms, oedema of the central corneal epithelium and visual acuity. In contrast, there was no effect of long-term CL wear on postoperative mean refractive spherical equivalent (MRSE) and haze.