Individuals with glasses and contact lenses are often steered away from LASIK or refractive surgery due to concern for its high cost. Many think of it as a luxury such as a cruise vacation or an expensive watch. But when you sit down and analyze the actual cost and benefits of LASIK, you may be surprised to find out that it is more affordable than you expected.
The goal of LASIK and refractive surgery is to allow you to do your day-to-day activities independently of the need of glasses or contact lenses. LASIK and PRK (photo refractive keratectomy) are sophisticated outpatient procedures that will reshape the cornea, the clear window of the eye, to correct your prescription. It should give you the freedom to drive, read, and enjoy outdoor activities, such as golf, tennis, and swimming, with clear vision. Patient satisfaction after LASIK ranges from 96-99%, making it one of the most desirable elective procedures in the United States.
Undoubtedly, LASIK has well-established and long-lasting benefits to patients. What about the cost of the procedure? The average national cost of LASIK was $2135 per eye in first half of 2017 with a range of $1000 to $4000 per eye. The cost usually includes the initial consultation, the procedure, and post-operative follow-up care. Refractive surgery practices have different pricing structures with some charging a single price that includes the most recent advancements in blade-less customized LASIK and others quoting varying prices, depending on the technology used and the amount of correction needed. While the older technology involves the use of a microkeratome blade to create a flap, the advent of the femtosecond laser allows for “blade-less” LASIK and has made the surgery more precise and safer.
So that is a look at the immediate cost of LASIK. What about the long-term costs of NOT doing LASIK? This is something that many patients do NOT look at closely. The average individual spends hundreds of dollars on contact lenses and prescription glasses every year. Furthermore, an annual eye exam is needed and additional eyecare products, such as contact lens solutions, will be purchased. If you are an individual in your 20s to 30s, these costs can add up to over thousands of dollars over the span of years. Consideration should also be given to the costs of contact-lens related problems, such as dry eyes, corneal abrasions, and infections. These problems can become expensive due to additional clinic visits and necessary eye drops for treatment. Lastly, think about how much time you would save without the need for routine or emergency doctor’s appointments and daily contact lens care. Several online calculators from Johnson & Johnson and the Refractive Surgery Alliance Society have been created to help you determine your lifetime cost for glasses and contact lenses. As an example, an individual in his or her 30s will spend about $18,510 over his or her lifetime for reusable contact lenses.
So while you may have thought of LASIK initially as a luxury, you should now think of it more like an investment. It is an investment designed to help you save money and the long-term burdens of contact lenses and prescription glasses. If the one-time cost with LASIK seems daunting, keep in mind that most refractive practices and surgeons provide financing options to break it down into smaller payments over time. Ultimately, LASIK should serve as an investment to provide you with freedom to read or watch TV without wearing glasses and to swim or shower without having to worry about your contact lenses.
Read our Comprehensive Guide to LASIK.
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