Since its introduction in 1999, LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) has become the procedure of choice for vision correction. Ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) often do it on patients with mild refractive error who otherwise have healthy eyes.
Unfortunately, although the price of LASIK eye surgery has fallen over the last several decades, it may still be rather expensive. LASIK is often not covered by insurance. The price of LASIK eye surgery and how to choose the best provider for you are discussed here.
The Average Cost of LASIK Eye Surgery
The price of LASIK eye surgery may range from $1,000 to $4,000 per eye, with such a wide price range. However, a paper published in Clinical Ophthalmology in 2021 states that the average cost of LASIK surgery in the U.S. in 2020 was $2,632 per eye . It’s important to keep in mind that commercials promising LASIK for as little as $250 usually refer to minor repairs and are intended to entice people to seek out more information.
According to Vicente Diaz, M.D., an ophthalmologist and associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, a number of variables may influence the price of LASIK.
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Geographical location comes first. Elective operations like refractive surgery tend to follow macro patterns, according to him, in which certain locations have greater costs of living than others.
According to Diaz, the cost of the doctor’s overhead might also affect pricing. For instance, the marginal cost of doing a surgery is lower if your doctor owns the laser equipment fully, allowing them to pass on the savings to the patient. However, in order to make it financially viable, physicians who are leasing or who have a high cost each case must boost their prices.
The strength of the doctor’s brand or their level of expertise affects price as well. According to Dr. Diaz, “market forces will push the price up” if a surgeon is in great demand, which is often due to a well-deserved reputation.
The price of surgery, though, shouldn’t be determined by how poor your eyesight is. According to Neda Shamie, M.D., a LASIK, cataract, and corneal surgeon at the Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles and a member of Forbes Health Advisory Board, “LASIK is typically a set price, as it covers the cost of correction within LASIK’s safe treatment range from minor to high corrections of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.”
Patients who, owing to extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness (or other circumstances), are not candidates for LASIK may, nevertheless, be candidates for more expensive procedures such refractive lens exchange or implanted contact lenses (ICL) (RLE). ICL and RLE operations are often more costly than LASIK.
What’s included in the Cost of LASIK
What is included in the operation and the costs of those inclusions, such as follow-up visits and improvements, may also affect your ultimate cost. According to Dr. Shamie, “an enhancement is a second treatment done on a previously treated eye.”
Less than 5% of individuals who have had an initial refractive operation (like LASIK) benefit from a fine-tuning laser procedure because they still have some nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
Patients who had significant prescription adjustments after their first surgery were more likely to need enhancements, she continues.
Dr. Shamie notes that although the services that are included in the price of your LASIK surgery may vary according on the physician, the overall cost normally includes the following:
- Examinations before and after surgery for at least a year
- Hospital and surgical fees
- Following-surgery eye drops
- Follow-up steps in case the adjustment has to be adjusted further
Additional Costs of LASIK
Dr. Shamie asserts that extra LASIK fees shouldn’t apply to the operation itself “unless you have it done by a surgeon who provides the process at a cheap upfront cost then charges separately for the more modern and safer technology, follow-up appointments, and drugs.”
However, she advises against using any kind of a la carte pricing to save expenses since “the most recent technology and follow-up care are necessary to a successful result, not optional line items,” according to her.
However, some LASIK facilities may charge more for “custom” treatments than for normal ones.
According to Dr. Diaz, “custom surgery” is when higher-order aberrations brought on by the specific patient’s eye shape are treated using a map of the patient’s real cornea. As it takes into consideration the unique eye shape, this takes longer than typical LASIK operations.
According to Dr. Diaz, additional expenses can include prescription drugs required to recuperate following surgery. However, they are often covered by health insurance and are subject to payment agreements.
Does Insurance Cover LASIK?
Since LASIK is seen as optional surgery, insurance often excludes it from coverage, save from prescriptions. Nevertheless, a lot of workplaces provide a health savings account (HSA) or flexible savings account (FSA), which let you save pre-tax money all year long to utilise for medical costs like LASIK.
Because many patients have access to their [FSA] monies in the new calendar year, Dr. Shamie explains, “January is a popular period for LASIK.”
Are There Financing Plans for LASIK?
There are many financing options that help reduce the financial strain of LASIK by converting the cost of the procedure into a manageable monthly payment.
According to Dr. Shamie, “most provide extended plans with interest for up to four or five years” while many plans give $0 down and 0% interest for up to two years.
According to Dr. Diaz, one such financial organization focuses on funding elective operations like LASIK and PRK. Make careful to look into every choice you have.
Tips on Finding the Best LASIK Surgeon for You
If you are considering LASIK, there are a few steps you should take to find the right surgeon. First, get a referral from your eye doctor, says Dr. Shamie.
“They know you and your eyes the best and will give you their honest opinion of who they would have operate on their own eyes,” she says. Also, ask your friends, “as there is a good chance that many of them have already had LASIK and have done extensive research before selecting their doctor.” She also suggests researching online, paying close attention to reviews on Google and Yelp, as “there is often wisdom in crowds.”
It’s also important to find a board-certified ophthalmologist, emphasizes Dr. Diaz, and pay attention to where the doctor trained, how long they have been in practice and how many cases they have done.
Invest in a 20- to 30-minute consultation, either virtual or in-office, too.
“Once you’re there, you want to make sure that the doctor walks through the results of the testing and the surgical plan,” says Dr. Diaz. “You should be wary of a doctor who rushes through this part of the process.” Keep in mind that not everyone is a candidate for all procedures, “and the doctor should explain how your objectives and testing results led them to make the right plan for you.”
Is LASIK Worth the Investment?
Is LASIK an investment that will ultimately be worthwhile? According to Dr. Diaz, there is often a “substantial” financial savings when prescription glasses or contact lenses are not required. “Those fees may surely pile up over time,” he continues.
Dr. Shamie continues, “Many of our patients have compared the price of glasses and contact lenses to the price of LASIK surgery and have discovered that their LASIK surgery is merely a fraction of the long-term cost. Designer eyewear, contacts, lens solutions, eye doctor appointments, and prescription sunglasses may cost more than $10,000 in a short period of time.
According to a research published in Clinical Ophthalmology , the price of LASIK is comparable to spending eight to ten years on contacts or glasses and eye checkups.
The advantages to quality of life should also be taken into account. According to Dr. Shamie, LASIK is the only investment you’ll make that will pay you back every waking second of your life.