Is LASIK surgery worth it?
How does the cost compare with a lifetime of contact lenses?
This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.
Nearly five years ago, I considered LASIK eye surgery but I never pulled the trigger. It wasn't that I was afraid or concerned, I was just used to contact lenses, they didn't bother me, and I felt that I didn't need to fix something that wasn't broken.
Fast-forward to this year and my contacts are becoming less and less comfortable. On several occasions my eyes have been really bothered by them to the point I keep them out most of the day when I'm working from home. The only times I put them in are when I play sports and when we go out. It's just more convenient.
The most common concern when it comes to LASIK is the price. It's a several-thousand-dollar procedure and, as is the case with anything like that, not something you decide on without some deliberation. Fortunately, a quick analysis shows it's actually not as expensive as you might think. Post continues after video.
Cost benefit analysis
Let's say the typical LASIK procedure costs about $4,500, including all expenses related to the procedure and recovery. That $4,500 sounds like a lot, but when you compare it with the cost of glasses and contacts for the rest of your life, it's actually pretty cheap.
Note: I'm going to exclude the use of a flexible spending account for the purposes of this analysis because you can use an FSA for both the LASIK procedure and for glasses and contacts. I figure it's pretty much even for our purposes.
Cost of contact lenses. I'm 30 years old and if I didn't do LASIK, I'd probably wear contacts for at least another 20 years. I use the Air Optix Night & Day Aqua, which goes for $70 a box retail. One box contains a six-month supply of contacts, so a full year's supply for both eyes is going to cost $280. You can probably find them cheaper, about $50 a box, so the actual price is closer to $200 a year.
Vision insurance. Typical vision insurance through an employer is about $5 to $12 a month for one person, which is balanced out by a $120 contact lens or glasses benefit. In other words, you pay for the insurance and make it back on contacts or glasses. The regular checkups are essentially free. That drops the actual cost of contacts to about $80 a year after insurance.
Glasses. Glasses are a little trickier to calculate because most people don't get new glasses every year. Let's say you get a new pair every three years, and those new glasses cost you $150. Over 20 years, that's about seven pairs of glasses. That's $1,050 in glasses, assuming you don't need replacements sooner.
Contact lens solution and supplies. I used to use Opti-Free Replenish solution, $15 for two 10-ounce bottles. I'd conservatively use one bottle a month, so you'd need about $90 for solution each year. Now I use Clear Care No Rub Cleaning & Disinfecting Solution ($16) and then rinse with Bausch & Lomb's Sensitive Eyes Plus Saline ($5). It adds maybe another $20 (for the saline) to the annual budget.
- Contact lenses -- $80 a year.
- Contact lens solution -- $110 a year.
- Glasses -- $150 every three years.
For simplicity, ignore the time value of money and let's just sum up the total cost for contacts over 20 years: $4,850.
OK, let's not ignore simplicity and factor in the time value of money with an interest rate of 3%. Twenty equal payments of $242.50 (that's $4,850 divided by 20) has a present-day value of $3,607.78. In essence, if you were to do LASIK for $4,500, it really only "costs" you $892.21 -- less than $500 an eye.
I made an appointment to have the procedure done.
More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:
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I had it done 6 years ago for about $2500 and it was even less because of my healthcare spending account.
I considered the costs a non-issue. The quality of life is amazing. No worries about contacts, about broken / dirty glasses. Fogging of contacts or glasses - never again.
It is a liberating procedure (provided it is successful). It changed my life and allowed me to enjoy activities without stress over vision. Also, the ability to wake up in the AM and see is worth it on its own.
I had mine done last year. It is so awesome to be able to see. One time I dropped my glasses out in the rain and it was dark. I was crawling around in the cold rain getting muddy and I thought to my self " I am that guy that cant see!" Now after the surgery I get up dont have to fumble for glasses and can look outside without having my glasses on. On hot days you come in out of the heat and dont worry about glasses fogging up either. It really is a blessing to have this technology.
For the record, my eyes were steadily getting worse. I was legally blind without my glasses. I spent at least $120 a pair and that was as of 2001. I was forced many times to get new frames with the new lens due to frames no longer carried. Due to my occupation lens were scratched and chipped if I didn't wear additional eye protection, which meant looking thru two sets of lens. The lens weight left painful dents on the bridge of my nose. I gave myself the Lasik as a Christmas present in 2001. I wore glasses since 1966. Aside from needing reading glasses now (I am an old fart after all) I still see 20/20. I paid $1700 an eye, $3400 total. If it lasts to 60, it paid for itself in money. In personal comfort and ease, it paid for itself in 3 days. To never have to find/feel for my glasses in the AM, to see my face to shave in a mirror. To drive with sunglasses, swim and see the pool edge. Thank God for Lasik.
Yes, there is a "breakeven" point where cost isn't justifiable. But for me, it was the best decision of my life. And, the most enjoyable.
I do have to wear reading glasses now inside restaurants and dark interiors, but in full sun and well lit environments, I read very well. I work on computers with no problem. A minor inconvenience, but I'll take it over the alternative.
Okay,, I see your logic, but what you DON'T know is how many people's eyesight is ruined FOREVER.. I am one of those.. I have spent now over $15,000.00 just to have some eyesight left... I had the surgery,,,, was botched beyond belief, wanted to die.. Everything was distorted,, objects huge,, scared to drive on highway, the signs looked like they were going to hit my car.. people's faced looked messed up, crooked noses, etc.. I walked on a crooked floor, felt like I was on a moving , tilted ship at all times... I see a glow around everyone and everything, day OR night from damage from surgery. This is permanent.. I see only one dimensional on everything from TV, news articles, billboards, etc... This IS PERMANENT, TOO... I spent over 7,000.00 dollars on special contacts that only a doctor in FL could even do well,, called Z-waves,, and that is the only reason my world is straighter,, but each lens costs $250.00 ,, my saline solution for using for rewetting drops to put in eyes, is about 11.00 every 3 weeks,, I have chronic dry eye from the surgery,,, (surgery was June 2006- lasik) and still have to buy a box of wetting drops to use all day,, that's $15.00 a box PER WEEK.. I use an expensive cleaner for my HARD LENSES (CAN'T WEAR SOFT EVER AGAIN),, can't wear GLASSES EVERY AGAIN, All they do is make the distortion bigger.. I could go on............. I will HAVE TO WEAR HARD CONTACTS TILL THE DAY I DIE,, TO SEE AT ALL. I know others who have had to have corneal transplants after lasik,, and go blind.. others who now see 3 birds in a tree now after perfect lasik ... Many came out fine,,, but now having the worse, irreparable problems.. I say, PLEASE, PLEASE keep your healthy eyesight,,,, Buy a contact solution that has peroxide in it,, can't get it in your eye, though,, but will clean your lenses.. the all in ones don't' work well.. Many solutions are made by the same manufacturers that make the lasers .. think about it... I had problems with my contacts just before lasik, too.. but wish I had researched better products than having my eye burned off... I'm telling you, this IS PERMANENT, They cannot fix what they break.. An FDA doctor who was on the panel who approved Lasik , is now asking the FDA to STOP!!!! Too many reports,, hundreds of thousands of damaged eyes.. and most have problems later... I had horrifying results immediately.. the world was like a FUN HOUSE... And I have to wear readers ,, had to since day one of surgery.... and I don't see things clearly, anything,, like I did in my old life... That's what it is now.. I am not the same and will never be... There are many, many like me!!!
Please be warned,, Just look up Lasik Complications.. and read the posts... these people ARE REAL,, and I've spoken to many.. My brother and sister -in-law have had problems too... AND they don't' tell you that if you have it,, and don't have your pre-lasik records, that when it comes time to have cataracts, you're screwed... Your eyesight will be a mess...
p.s. I met an eye surgeon who was brave enough to tell me, he too was botched!!! And so you know it has nothing to do with who does your surgery... I know people botched who had world renowned surgeons do their lasik.. Please,,, know that if not immediately,, it may change your life later for the worse.. I wish you the best.. I just could not read this and not respond. I don't want anyone to go through the living horror I have!
I had the surgery done when I was 36. I'm now 41 and need to go back for "adjustment" which will cost an addition amount. Apparently, this is the norm. This is definitely not a permanent solution. It's just a long-term solution to not having to carry around contact lens cases and saline.
My brother who is nearsighted and is now 45 had the surgery done when he was 32. He is now wearing glasses once again and says he will not go through the surgery anymore.
My boss had his done when he was 47, he is now 53 and wearing glasses again.
See the pattern?
You're missing one VITAL piece of information:
The simple joy of being able to open your eyes and SEE. I had my LASIK surgery done 5 years ago. With my VSP, it was about $3000 total. I still tell people...it was the best money I've ever spent. My glasses (replaced every two years sadly) were $400 a pair; and my contacts were $30 a month.
I CAN SEE; I CAN SEE!! Its a great feeling!
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