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LASIK Cost Information – Cost of Laser Eye Surgery

The price of LASIK surgery can vary widely depending on a number of factors, most notably the technologies used and the geographic location. Expect to pay approximately $500 to $600 more per eye for wavefront-guided LASIK with a laser-created corneal flap than for standard LASIK, whereby the flap is created with a bladed microkeratome. The price quoted by a refractive surgeon typically includes follow-up care during LASIK surgery recovery.

Average LASIK Costs

According to LASIK Plus vision centers, one of the largest providers of LASIK in North America, LASIK can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500 for both eyes. However, most refractive surgeons charge on a per-eye basis. A survey of refractive surgeons by a leading industry analyst that was commissioned by found that the average price for wavefront-guided (customized) LASIK with a laser-generated corneal flap (the most advanced form of LASIK eye surgery) was approximately $2,150 per eye in 2011. For non-wavefront LASIK using a microkeratome, the average was $1,630. And the average for all vision correction procedures using a laser, with a single price quoted, was approximately $2,124.

The last of these figures includes not just LASIK, but also PRK, LASEK and other forms of laser surgery. The cost for LASIK vs PRK or LASIK vs LASEK can differ because PRK and LASEK do not require the creation of a flap. But the cost for all of these procedures should be similar for farsightedness and nearsightedness.

The survey also showed that average LASIK prices in 2011 were similar to 2010. Though traditional LASIK was slightly more costly ($1,630 vs $1,580 in 2010), for the second year in a row the average price for blade-free, wavefront-guided LASIK (during which the corneal flap is created with a femtosecond laser) dipped, from $2,170 in 2010 to $2,151 in 2011.

The price you'll actually pay for your LASIK depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of laser technology you choose
  • The type of surgical instrument used to create the corneal flap
  • Whether or not your pre-op exam and follow-up visits are covered in the fee
  • Whether or not your post-op medications are covered in the fee
  • Whether or not retreatments (if necessary) are covered in the fee
  • The skill, reputation, and experience of your refractive surgeon
  • The community and area of the country you live in

LASIK Options

The least expensive LASIK procedure is standard (non-wavefront-guided) LASIK; during this procedure the corneal flap is created with a mechanical microkeratome. This also is the oldest LASIK technology.

Although visual outcomes usually are very good with standard LASIK, it has a higher risk of certain complications, including flap problems. Nighttime glare and other vision problems also may be more prevalent after standard LASIK compared with newer and more advanced wavefront LASIK procedures.

The highest-priced option typically is wavefront-guided LASIK performed with the latest-generation excimer laser and a femtosecond laser for the corneal flap. Wavefront-guided technology uses precise computer-generated mapping of the eye to guide the excimer laser as it reshapes the cornea, often providing better visual outcomes than standard LASIK.

Using a laser to create the corneal flap also eliminates the risk of most flap complications, and is therefore safer and potentially less nerve-wracking than older forms of the LASIK procedure.

LASIK Insurance, Financing and Taxes

Most health insurance companies consider LASIK and other vision correction procedures to be not medically necessary, since vision can be corrected with eyeglasses and contact lenses. Therefore, the cost of LASIK typically is not included as a benefit of most major medical plans. However, some medical and vision plans offer a discount for LASIK performed by certain eye surgeons. Ask your plan administrator for details. If you are a contact lens wearer considering LASIK, then a comparison of the lifetime cost of contact lenses and solutions versus the one-time cost of LASIK may help in making the financial decision to have the procedure.

To help patients afford LASIK and other vision correction procedures, many refractive surgeons offer financing plans that might fit your budget. In some cases, zero percent financing is available for a limited payback period. Ask your eye surgeon for information about available in-house or third-party financing plans during your LASIK consultation.

Though LASIK is not covered by most medical insurance plans, it "meaningfully promotes the proper function of the body," according to the Internal Revenue Service. It therefore qualifies as a medical expense that can be deducted from your taxable income according to Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code. Contact your accountant or tax attorney for details or visit the IRS website for more information.

If you serve in the U.S. military, you may be eligible to have LASIK or PRK performed at a military base surgical clinic free of charge. Ask your recruiter or commanding officer for details. Also, some private refractive surgeons offer special discounts for military personnel.

"Discount" LASIK

Be wary of advertisements by surgery centers that offer LASIK at very low prices — "LASIK as low as $299 per eye," for example. If you read the small print, you'll see that it often depends on the patient's refractive error, with only a small percentage of patients (sometimes less than 10 percent) typically qualifying for the "bargain" pricing.

Typically, "bargain"-priced LASIK is a standard LASIK procedure with a microkeratome-created corneal flap, and the price usually does not include pre-operative exams, follow-up visits, post-operative medications and/or retreatments.

Sometimes bargain surgery centers use a "mobile" laser, meaning the excimer laser is trucked to the surgery center that day, and then gets loaded back on the truck and taken to another surgery center the next day. This frequent movement and transport of the laser may affect its calibration and the consistency of LASIK outcomes it produces.

According to a leading industry analyst, less than 7 percent of LASIK procedures performed in the U.S. in 2008 cost less than $1,000 per eye. As with most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

You only have one set of eyes. Choose wisely when it comes to laser vision correction surgery — don't let the cost of the procedure be your primary consideration.

Note: This information is for general education purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice from your eye doctor or refractive surgeon.

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