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What Should LASIK Cost?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cost, as they say, is what someone is willing to pay. 

The cost of Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomeleusis (LASIK) can vary between $250 and $4000 per eye.  This extreme variability can be explained by a number of factors.


Very inexpensive LASIK quotes are often so low they are “too good to be true”.  The quoted price is loaded with fine print and qualifiers.  For example, some discount laser centers list a price that pertains to only specific small prescriptions.  Two hundred and fifty dollars, for instance, may only apply to one diopter of nearsightedness or less.  To put this in perspective, many individuals who have less then one diopter of nearsightedness consider their vision fine without glasses or contact lenses, and would never consider having laser vision correction in the first place.  Very low LASIK quotes may be considered a “bait and switch” marketing strategy.   

In fact, the costs to perform LASIK surgery to a facility are significant.  Consider the fact that “modern” (within 7 or 8 years) LASIK surgery is almost always performed with two different lasers that serve two different purposes.  The first is the “femto-second” laser.  This is the machine that creates the cornea tissue flap.  Previously, LASIK flaps were created using a blade or “microkeratome”.  The advent of the femto-second laser for flap making allowed for the most precise flap thickness, diameter, and shape.  The second laser is used to reshape the cornea tissue beneath the flap in order to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.  This is the “excimer” laser.  Now consider that while both lasers are used in a LASIK procedure; each epitomizes the apex of biomedical engineering, and each costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Surgeon training, experience, and expertise are important determinants of LASIK cost.  Not all LASIK surgeons are the same.  A surgeon who has long established themselves in the community by achieving consistent, quality outcomes with careful decision making, life-long learning, meticulous technique, and commitment to proven, state-of-the-art technology may command a higher fee than a distant investor owned, volume dependent, chain facility.

LASIK surgeons, facilities, and technology are not interchangeable like a gallon of gas or a pound of sugar.  With LASIK, as they say, you get what you pay for.

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