How Much Money Can LASIK Save You?
LASIK eye surgery has been a popular topic since it was first approved by the FDA in 1998. It has evolved a lot since then, but the one thing people still think of when it comes to LASIK is the price.
Despite the potential benefits of choosing LASIK instead of glasses or contacts, the common belief is that it’s not a realistic option unless you have a lot of money. This is often the case when it comes to elective surgeries.
However, LASIK surgery is a lot more affordable than you think. It could end up saving you money long-term over traditional options for correcting eye problems like glasses.
By the end of this article, you may be shocked at how much more expensive NOT getting LASIK eye surgery is.
LASIK eye surgery is a laser refractive surgery that is used to correct problems with vision as an alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses. The procedure uses a unique kind of cutting laser to alter the shape of the tissue at the front of your eye (cornea) to increase your vision.
If you’ve been diagnosed with farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia), or astigmatism then you are most likely a candidate for LASIK eye surgery since you probably already wear glasses or contacts.
If you get yearly eye exams, you will likely have a good idea if this procedure is something you can consider. LASIK eye surgery is not recommended if you already have decent vision, or if you have more severe issues such as cataracts or glaucoma. LASIK is also usually not considered viable if your vision loss is the result of aging.
You may already be spending too much
Without a doubt, the LASIK procedure is expensive for most people. The price of LASIK eye surgery will cost you between $2100 and $2500 for per eye and is often not covered by insurance.
This is because the surgery is considered an elective procedure by most insurance companies, so they usually don’t cover it (more on this later). However, relying on glasses and contact lenses can end up costing you much more.
On average, contact lenses cost as low as $20 and as high as $30 per box, though this could be higher. For the year, you could be spending anywhere from $150-$1500 just on contacts, with prices determined by the brand, the type of lenses, and your level of insurance.
According to a study by the CDC, 90% of Americans who use contacts wear soft contact lenses, which are designed to be worn every day and need to be disposed of either after a day, a week, or a month.
The average cost of glasses on the other hand is $196 for a single pair, but that could go as high as $1000. Getting prescription glasses also requires a series of tests and eye exams which on average could be more than $300 total.
That price can go up considerably depending on where you live and the quality of your insurance. The yearly upkeep of glasses also has to factor in replacements, upgrades, and eye exams. Based on research from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Americans spend $15 billion every year on their eyewear.
If we average out the cost of contacts or glasses every year, you’ll easily spend far more money throughout your life compared to the one-time cost of LASIK eye surgery.
Saving time and money
Not only is LASIK eye surgery cheaper compared to the lifetime cost of glasses and lenses, but you also have to consider the convenience. Sure, not having to spend over $1000 per year for contacts is appealing, but think about how much easier it can make your life if you choose LASIK instead.
When it comes to contacts you have to deal with the hassle of getting your lenses refilled every month. Plus you have to put them on, take them out, and worry about potentially losing them if you’re doing any physical activity. People who wear contact lenses also frequently deal with dry eyes, so you may also need to purchase eye drops or eye vitamins.
With glasses you have to deal with frequent doctor visits, dealing with insurance companies and their price limits, plus how uncomfortable it can be wearing glasses throughout the day.
Glasses fog up and need to be adjusted, and you have to be mindful of them falling off or getting hit. LASIK eye surgery would eliminate all that inconvenience, allowing you to direct that extra time and money to something more worthwhile.
Now $2000 to $3000 for LASIK may still sound prohibitive, but you may not even have to pay that much. While it’s true most insurance companies consider LASIK to be elective and won’t cover it, exceptions have been made if the procedure is being taken to correct vision problems stemming from surgery or injury.
That won’t apply to most people, but a health savings account or HSA does. An HSA is a form of savings account that is exempt from federal income tax that is designed for medical expenses.
So if you set up an HSA and pay into it, or already have one, you can apply it to your LASIK eye surgery. Most centers that offer LASIK accept HSA as a payment option so you could potentially save up to 30% off.
What are the risks?
LASIK eye surgery has come a long way and is considered a safe and effective procedure. Complications that lead to vision loss are very rare. Like any medical procedure, there are potential side effects associated with it. For LASIK there is some risk for issues like dry eyes or glare. These are temporary and tend to clear up within a few weeks or months after the surgery. People reporting long-term side effects from LASIK eye surgery are rare.
Certain factors increase the risk of negative outcomes from LASIK surgery. These include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- A weakened immune system
- Frequent dry eyes
- Reduced vision from medications, hormonal changes, pregnancy, breast-feeding or aging
- Cornea inflammation
- Lid disorders
- Eye injuries
- Eye diseases
If none of these apply to you, the odds are your LASIK experience will be safe. The question is, do you think the benefits and risks of LASIK outweigh those of contacts and prescription glasses?
LASIK will not apply to everyone, but if you’re already spending money on contact lenses or glasses, it’s something you should be considering.