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LASIK surgery sounds great, but I need more information to weigh the benefits and costs.”

Surgery Options

LASIK Surgery

Costs


LASIK pricing can vary a great deal, but price differences aren’t always as clear as they seem at first glance.

Today, almost 50% of providers offer all-inclusive pricing, so that your total costs won’t change depending on the exact services and technologies you need or want. Others price each service separately. It’s up to you to compare services as well as prices when you’re looking for a LASIK provider.

As you think about paying for LASIK, also consider this. A study recently calculated the all-inclusive costs of using eyeglasses and contacts over a 20-year period. Laser vision correction could actually be less expensive than years of glasses and contact lenses-plus, you’ll have the convenience of being able to see clearly through your own eyes without the hassles of corrective lenses.

Factors that influence LASIK pricing

    Many (but not all) providers include the following in their quoted prices:

    • Initial evaluation
    • Complete eye examination (including time and equipment)
    • Post-surgery follow-up visits for services not covered by your insurance
    • Post-surgery tests
    • Standard medications
    • Surgeon and facility fees

    Many providers also include a touch-up (enhancement) procedure if needed, free of charge. However, some providers have strict guidelines you need to follow to qualify for a free touch-up. If a team of doctors reviews your case, their time is usually included. Other providers charge a fee for touch-ups-usually a lot less than the initial procedure.

    Your provider may or may not charge more for the latest technology. However, some studies show Wavefront-guided and Wavefront-optimized LASIK and an all-laser flap lead to fewer complications and fewer touch-ups, as well as a higher chance of 20/20 vision. You’ll want to consider the value of this technology as well as the cost.

    Other factors may also affect LASIK pricing, include:

    • Location-different regions have their own pricing trends.
    • Your case-many providers charge based on the exact services you need or want.
    • Included services-some providers bundle all your LASIK services (including office visits, testing and touch-up procedures) in one price. Others charge separately for some services. Be sure to ask about extra charges in advance.

"Bargain" LASIK

    If a LASIK price looks too good to be true, it may be.

    Many providers have stopped offering ultra-low "bargain" prices because patients get frustrated when it applies only to select cases. Also, an especially low price may not reflect your total costs, as some services may be extra.

    If you aren’t certain about a price, ask for a written estimate that tells you exactly what it includes-and what it doesn’t.

    "Bargain" LASIK may also be restricted to older generation technologies, which may not give you the excellent results you can expect from newer techniques.

Typical LASIK price range

    The following amounts are general guidelines only, based on the most commonly reported fees in the United States in 2009.

    Remember that LASIK quotes are always provided for each eye individually. Double the following amounts to approximate your costs:

    Conventional LASIK with a microkeratome flap:

    • From $1,000 to $2,500 per eye

    Custom Wavefront LASIK with an all-laser flap:

    • From $1,500 to $3,000 per eye

    Prices are based on Market Scope survey data and represent national averages. Prices may vary significantly in your area. ASCRS does not suggest that the price ranges or averages should prevail for any given service or product. The information is provided only as a means to help patients consider the selection of vision management options.

Paying for LASIK

    There are a number of ways you might be able to reduce or offset the cost of surgery:

    • Check if your health insurance plan offers any coverage. Medicare and most U.S. insurance providers consider it an elective procedure and do not cover it, but other plans offer some LASIK coverage.
    • Look into medical flexible spending or "cafeteria" plans offered by your employer. These let you use pretax dollars for medical expenses, including LASIK.
    • Ask an accountant if you may be able to deduct the cost of LASIK from your U.S. federal income taxes.
    • Several major companies in the U.S. now cover or partially cover LASIK for their employees.
    • The U.S. military is making LASIK more accessible to troops, sometimes free of charge, depending on your duties.
    • Modern financing and payment plans can make LASIK even more affordable for many. Some providers or third parties offer 0% financing and may not require upfront payment. Ask your surgeon if financing options are available and if this may be a good option for you.

If you’re considering LASIK surgery, learn more about what to expect before and during surgery.

Glossary

Not sure what a particular term means? Click on words in bold to pull up the glossary tab.

Glossary Entries

Cafeteria plans
Service offerings from a doctor's office that enable patients to select a number of services from a list. For example, the basic fee might include only an initial procedure and the cafeteria plan would allow patients to select additional follow-up visits, enhancements or touch-up procedures as part of their entire service package.

Corneal flap
Thin slice of tissue on the surface of the cornea made at the beginning of LASIK surgery. Made with either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. The flap is folded back before the LASIK procedure can shape the inner layers of the cornea.

LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) surgery
Type of laser surgery in which the cornea is reshaped to improve vision. Either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser is used to surgically create a thin, hinged flap of corneal tissue. The flap is folded back, and an excimer laser is directed to the corneal surface exposed beneath the flap to reshape the cornea for corrected vision. Then the flap is brought back into place.

Wavefront-guided LASIK
Also called custom LASIK. Creates a personalized map of existing higher order aberrations to correct refractive error and these more subtle vision problems. In some cases, existing higher order aberrations are severe enough to require this special treatment.

Wavefront-optimized LASIK
Newer LASIK technology that corrects refractive errors while accounting for both the natural curvature of the eye and the unique characteristics of each individual's eye. Has less risk of inducing higher order aberrations than conventional LASIK

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