LASIK Eye Surgery Cost

LASIK eye surgery has become a mainstream of vision correction. However, the cost of LASIK is variable and depends on things such as geography, eye surgeon, the actual technology used, and other factors. Typically, when you hear a price quoted for LASIK, you should assume that the cost is for one eye only. If you plan to have the surgery on both eyes, double the cost. Besides, what are the questions you should ask your surgeon before the operation?

LASIK Eye Surgery Cost

Understanding that LASIK costs are extremely variable, the costs will range from about $1700 to $2200 for one eye. The averages prices are:

  • $1,689 for non-customized LASIK, in which a blade called a microkeratome and an excimer laser is used that is not preceded by wavefront analysis.
  • Add a laser using wavefront analysis for creating the flap and the price will increase to $1947 per eye.
  • $2,159 for all laser-based vision correction procedures (including LASIK) in which a single price is quoted

What about those newspaper ads that promise LASIK eye surgery as low as $500 per eye? Be aware that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Most people will not qualify for the extremely low rates, but these ads are very effective at getting your attention. Most LASIK procedures are much more involved than those that might qualify for a $500 rate. Read the full contract and have a full exam to determine exactly what YOUR procedure will cost. Know that the newest “bladeless” LASIK procedure in which a laser is used to create the flap and reshape the cornea will usually NOT be eligible for extremely low advertised rates. In addition, most eye surgeons who do the LASIK procedure do not advertise these extremely low prices. The cost of the LASIK eye surgery procedure has remained relatively stable over the last five to ten years.

What Questions about the Cost Should You Ask Your Surgeon?

Before you decide to have LASIK surgery, there are several questions you should ask that may affect the cost of the surgery:

1. What specific things are included in the cost?

2. More importantly, what things are NOT included in the quoted cost?

3. For any possible treatments that are not included, what is the cost?

4. Are any follow-up visits included?

5. If there are complications or if the LASIK procedure has to be redone, are those extra treatments included?

6. Are glasses or contacts included if you need them?

7. Are medications such as eye drops included in the cost? If not, how much will they cost?

Costs for Other Types of Eye Surgery

Besides the basic LASIK surgery, there are other types of eye surgery for which you might be a good candidate. Again, the prices for these other surgeries will be variable and will be priced per eye.

  • Conductive keratoplasty (CK) is a surgery done on older people to help them reduce the need for glasses for reading. This non-laser surgery can range from $1500 to $2000 per eye.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a type of laser surgery that was the fore-runner of the traditional LASIK – and costs about the same as LASIK.
  • Epi-LASIK and LASEK surgeries are two types of surgery that do not use a laser to cut the flap but do use the laser to reshape the cornea. Both of these procedures cost about the same as the LASIK eye surgery.
  • Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a refractive eye surgery that replaces the natural lens in your eye with an artificial one. RLE costs $2500 to $4500 per eye, but also avoids some of the complications of traditional LASIK eye surgery.

What Are the Side Effects and Complications of LASIK Eye Surgery?

Before having any surgery, you should be aware of the possible side effects and complications of the procedure. This is also true of the LASIK eye surgery procedure. Some of these complications include:

  • Under- or overcorrections of vision. These complications will result in blurry vision requiring continued use of glasses or contact lenses. Check with your eye surgeon to determine if another laser treatment can correct this complication.
  • Decentered ablation. If the LASIK treatment is not centered over the pupil, a complication known as decentered ablation may result. This complication can result in visual difficulties but it can usually be resolved with eye drops and a repeat LASIK treatment.
  • Haze. A haze following LASIK surgery can usually be treated with eye drops but may require treatment with another LASIK treatment.
  • Wrinkles in the corneal flap. This complication can cause visual difficulties and will typically require a second laser treatment.
  •  Dry eyes. A very common side effect following LASIK, dry and red eyes can be very annoying and painful. The surgeon may prescribe medications or punctal occlusion to add tears to the eye. Often, this side effect will be temporary.
  • Keratitis. This complication can result in blurred vision. Eye drops will be used first but surgery may be required to rinse out the cells that are causing the eye inflammation.
  • Epithelial overgrowth. An uncommon complication, epithelial over- or ingrowth can cause visual difficulties that will require surgical intervention.
  • Infection. Another uncommon complication, infection of the eye following LASIK surgery is usually easily treated by using antibiotic eye drops or oral medications.
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