How Much Does LASIK Surgery Cost?
LASIK costs are typically advertised on a “per eye” basis. Exact costs can be difficult to estimate before your qualification examination given the many variables impacting cost, such as patients’ unique considerations, surgeon location, the type of LASIK performed, the guarantees provided for follow-up enhancements, etc. However there is a fairly well established cost range that you can use to help guide your decision-making process.
With that in mind, the average cost of LASIK ranges from $3,000 to $4,000 for both eyes. The most expensive type of LASIK typically costs around $500-$600 more per eye than the least expensive type.
Although the cost of LASIK has seen a slight per-eye increase over the past few years, it has been fairly stable at or around the $2,000 price point since being introduced back in the 90’s.
|Type of LASIK||Avg. Cost for 1 Eye||Avg. Cost for 2 Eyes|
You may have seen various advertisements or promotions for LASIK at a much cheaper cost ($500 per eye or less). Approach any such promotion(s) with caution as there is usually an asterisk involved. Promotional pricing for LASIK is unlikely to cover the costs associated with follow-up visits or additional post-op care. It may even be limited in the scope of treatment, meaning that if you are severely farsighted or nearsighted, or suffer from astigmatism, you may not qualify for the promotional treatment.
Different Procedures, Different Prices
Understanding the cost differential between standard microkeratome LASIK and bladeless LASIK requires an understanding of the procedure details. LASIK is essentially a two-step process: first, a flap is made in cornea and then the underlying tissue is reshaped. Differences in the way these steps are undertaken can affect the cost. Specifically, the flap can be created with either a blade or a laser, and the corneal reshaping can be accomplished with or without the assistance of wavefront technology.
Least Expensive – Standard LASIK
The least expensive procedure is standard LASIK. In this procedure:
- The corneal flap is made with a microkeratome (surgical blade)
- The cornea is reshaped with a standard laser
- There are no follow-up visits or post-operative adjustments
Note that there is a higher risk of complications (issues with the flap, glare at night, etc.) with standard LASIK than with other, more advanced laser vision correction procedures.
Most Expensive – Bladeless Wavefront LASIK
In contrast, the most expensive procedure, wavefront-guided bladeless LASIK, relies on more advanced technology. In this procedure:
- A precise map of the cornea is made using wavefront technology
- The corneal flap is made with a femtosecond laser
- The cornea is reshaped with an advanced excimer laser
If your surgeon uses wavefront technology but does not use a laser to create the corneal flap, the cost will most likely fall somewhere in the middle of the price range. The experience, skill and reputation of your surgeon will also play into the cost of your LASIK procedure, as will the geographic location of the surgery center.
Other Things to Consider
LASIK is not medically necessary, at least according to most insurance companies, because glasses and contact lenses can be used to correct the same vision problems LASIK treats. As a result, LASIK is not covered by most insurance carriers. However, some medical and vision insurers give a discount on LASIK if it is performed by their approved surgeons. Speak with the administrator of your insurance plan for more details.
Financing the Cost of LASIK
Many refractive surgeons offer financing plans to help their patients afford the cost of LASIK. Some of these plans even have rates of zero percent for a limited time period. Ask your surgeon for more information on financing.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
A Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, is an account you create through your employer to save money for medical costs. The money is taken out of your paycheck and is tax-free. FSA accounts can be a great way to finance your LASIK procedure. Not all employers offer FSA accounts, so check with your human resources representative to see if this is an option for you.
You can deduct LASIK from your taxable income. Speak with a tax lawyer or an accountant to learn more, or visit the website of the IRS.
Those serving in the U.S. military may be eligible to undergo LASIK or PRK at a surgery center on a military base for free. Talk to your commanding officer or recruiter to learn more. Some refractive surgeons who are not affiliated with the military also offer discounts to military personnel.
In the end, cost should not be the primary factor in your decision. Be very skeptical of ads from clinics offering LASIK at “discounted” prices. Don’t mess with your eyes. They’re the only ones you’ve got.