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Understanding the costs of laser eye surgery

By on March 27, 2011
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Laser eye surgery is without doubt a pretty amazing procedure and although there are risks, the vast majority of people end up throwing away their glasses or contact lenses for life. Laser eye surgery is not cheap however and whatever price you have in your head you should probably double it! The reason for the high laser eye surgery cost is due to a number of reasons including the very high price of the laser eye surgery equipment and also the salary of a laser eye surgeon.

If you hear a price quoted for laser eye surgery that seems too low to be true, the chances are that it probably is! Many of the clinics will quote a low starting price which is unlikely to be applicable to most people. This staring price typically only relates to a very low prescription and the price tends to increase markedly as your prescription increases. This is something you need to consider when enquiring about the price and you should always ask for the price range. For some people the cost of laser eye surgery may not be an issue as they are fortunate enough to be able to comfortably afford the treatment regardless of the price. For other people however, laser eye surgery may be more of a financial decision and they will have to weigh up whether or not it makes financial sense to them.

Will laser eye surgery pay for itself?

A simple calculation you can do is to work out how many years of not paying for contact lenses and glasses will it take to cover the cost of your laser eye surgery. See the calculation below:

Cost of laser eye surgery: $5000
Average cost of glasses and contact lenses per year: $500
$5000 divided by $500 =   10 years.

This means that after ten years of not paying for glasses and contact lenses you will have effectively covered the cost of your surgery. Of course in this ten year period, you will also have had the benefit of not having to wear glasses or contact lenses, which should not be underestimated. Obviously depending on how much you spend on glasses and contact lenses this time period could be longer or shorter than 10 years.

Let’s assume you have decided to have laser eye surgery and are now considering the best way to get affordable treatment. The following gives you a few tips on saving money on laser eye surgery:

Treatment type: The 2 main types of laser eye surgery are Lasik and PRK and the cost of these 2 procedures are normally very similar. There are however premium options that you will definitely be offered (and possibly pressurised into) during your laser eye surgery consultation. These are Intralase (also called bladeless) and Custom (also called Wavefront) laser eye surgery. Custom laser eye surgery will result in a more accurate visual correction and is undoubtedly an excellent treatment choice but it is not essential. If your prescription is mild and you have small pupils you are likely to get just as good a visual correction with standard surgery. Intralase is a type of Lasik and could add up to $1000 (as can wavefront) to the cost of your treatment. It differs to standard Lasik in that it uses a laser to create the corneal flap rather than a surgical blade. For some people this is very appealing as they are quite squeamish about the thought of a surgical blade being anywhere near their eye! Although Intralase is slightly safer and has a lower re-treatment rate, standard Lasik is also extremely safe. Millions of people have safely undergone standard Lasik without any complications. In the same way as with custom laser eye surgery, if money is no object then Intralase is definitely a slightly better option but if money is tight then you should have no worry in choosing standard Lasik. In some instances however, due to your prescription or physiology of your eye, your surgeon may insist that you have either Intralase or Wavefront or both.

Don’t rush into your surgery: Most clinics will try to sign you up on the day of your consultation for surgery but make sure you don’t! It may be one of the oldest tricks in the book but you will almost certainly be offered a lower price at a later date if you don’t sign up on the day.

Shop around: Have consultations at a few different clinics to see where you can get the best deal. It is important however that you are comparing like with like. A particular clinic may appear to be cheaper but they may only be offering a standard treatment whereas another clinic may be offering Wavefront or Intralase. Do not however let your decision be solely dictated by the price as the single most important thing is getting the vision you have always wanted without any complications. If you feel more comfortable and confident with a clinic that is a few hundred dollars more expensive, then I suggest this would be extra money that is well worth spending.

 

 

In summary, the decision to have laser eye surgery should not be taken lightly and the cost of treatment could vary from as little as $2000 to $8000. The wide price range is dictated by a number of factors including the type of treatment, your prescription and the particular clinic. Although it is important to shop around and get the best deal possible don’t lose sight of the reason you are having the surgery and that is so you can throw away you glasses or contact lenses hopefully for life. A clinic with excellent results and low complication rates is worth the extra cost as you are more likely to get the results you want. Just remember you only get one pair of eyes so good luck!

photo by greenflames09

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About Tim Harwood

Tim Harwood is a UK based Optometrist with a particular interest in laser eye surgery. Along side his clinical practice he also writes content for his website TreatmentSaver.com

One Comment

  1. Carol

    3/28/2011 at 9:10 am

    I had Lasik several years ago and I have never regretted it for one minute! As I was over 40 when I had it, I almost immediately began having to wear reading glasses, so I have not been free of glasses, but I don’t have to wear glasses for ordinary living. Prior to my surgery, I couldn’t read the alarm clock on my bookcase headboard in the morning without putting on my glasses. I spent $4,000 to have an excellent surgeon perform my surgery and I still say it was the best money I ever spent! There is nothing that can replace the ability to see.

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