LASIK surgery took the world by storm in the early 2,000’s, giving hope to those with poor eyesight. As someone who wears contacts and glasses for nearsightedness, this procedure is something that has intrigued me as well. However, when you think of LASIK you also associate it with a hefty bill, one that may seem a bit overwhelming if it is not covered by your insurance plan. (P.S. Most do not cover unless they deem it medically necessary.) So, is LASIK worth it? Does it actually improve your sight long enough or well enough to justify the out-of-pocket cost?
LASIK Surgery: A Little History
According to Lasik.com, LASIK actually has quite the expansive history. The 1970’s introduced the invention of the excimer laser, which intrigued Columbia University researcher Stephen L. Troker, who used it to test laser eye surgery on test subjects, such as animal and human cadavers.
The first laser vision correction procedure was completed in 1988 on a 60-year-old woman with malignant melanoma, Lasik.com states. By 1991, Canada approved the excimer laser for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States jumped on board in 1995. Around the same time, two European eye doctors enhanced the procedure into what is now known as LASIK, which was allowed in the U.S. in 1999. Over the years, it has continued to evolve and improve but has always been associated with a heftier price.
The Cost of LASIK Back Then (And the Cost of LASIK Today)
When LASIK gained popularity (and FDA approval) in the late 1990s, the average cost was $2,200 per eye, Alex Tabarrok writes in a 2004 article on economics site Marginal Revolution. At the time the article was written, LASIK cost an average of $1,350 per eye, without putting into consideration inflation. Over the years, though, this number has fluctuated. In fact, according to a 2015 survey of refractive surgeons reported by Liz Segre of AllAboutVision.com, the average cost in the United States for laser eye corrective surgery was $2,077 per eye just a couple years ago, bringing us practically right back to where we started from.
However, cost does depend on location and facility. Additionally, the price may vary depending on the type of surgery, the technology used, and so on. You can opt for more sophisticated procedures, such as wavefront-guided LASIK, which corrects eyesight to result in the best vision possible, and would ultimately increase the end rate. But, overall, Lasik.com states LASIK costs can range from $1,000 to over $4,000 per eye.
Although you will often see ads for LASIK for just a couple hundred dollars per eye, you need to be wary of such deals. These often do not include follow-up appointments that are necessary for care, and so on, LASIK provider Qualsight advises.
So, with an average rate $4,000 or more for the surgery, is LASIK worth it?
Is LASIK Worth It?
Eye care can add up, especially depending on whether or not you need special lenses for astigmatism and the like. Not including your eye doctor visits, which may or may not be covered by your insurance plan depending on your policy, AllAboutVision.com estimates you may pay up to $400 a year or more for contact lenses and solution alone. Eyeglass frames plus the lenses can be an extra $200 or more, although those would be replaced much less than your yearly contacts, that is if your prescription does not change.
Even though LASIK is often not covered by insurance plans due to being considered a cosmetic surgery, Qualsight.com, who try to reduce the cost of LASIK to their patients, claims that many find the initial higher costs of the procedure to be worth it because, over time, they are saving thousands on continuously paying for their eyeglasses and contacts. Not to mention, many facilities will offer a payment plan to help alleviate the financial stress of paying out of pocket all at once. These payment plans, with no down payment of Health Savings Account assistance, can be as low as close to $90 per month for 48 months, according to Lasik.com’s LASIK calculator. Of course, you can pay more and pay the bill off sooner within 12 months.
AllAboutVision.com states that, in most cases, LASIK eye surgery is permanent. So, considering this, paying a little over roughly $1,000 a year for four years to have your eyesight corrected versus continuously paying $200 or more each year for the rest of your life to only assist your eyesight may make the case for LASIK alone and potentially save you money over time.
So, what do you think? Is LASIK worth it? Weigh in on the comments below.