With the range of LASIK prices promoted on the radio, TV and online it is no wonder many people interested in having LASIK are confused about the cost of LASIK eye surgery. There are different types of laser vision correction and technologies that can determine how much a surgeon may charge for a procedure. Understanding the LASIK options available may help you better evaluate and understand what’s going into the cost of your LASIK eye surgery.
Let’s start with the basics around the cost of LASIK eye surgery:
First: Refractive surgeons think about the vision correction procedure needed for each of your two eyes. Your eyes are unique unto themselves, so it makes sense that the treatment for each is approached specifically to each eye. Therefore, the cost of LASIK eye surgery is based on a “per eye” procedure cost.
Second: There are many options in laser vision correction today and determining what is right for you and your vision is part of the work you will do with your LASIK surgeon before deciding to have the procedure performed. He or she has invested both time and money into the different technologies and techniques to provide you with his or her specific offering – a blend of skill and science – that you will want to understand before choosing to proceed.
Options in LASIK include conventional LASIK procedures, custom LASIK, “all laser” or “blade-free” surgery. Understanding the differences in the types of LASIK and the technologies offered will help you understand the costs associated with your procedure. To lay the foundation for this discussion, we will describe the basic LASIK, or conventional LASIK, procedure.
Conventional LASIK was first introduced in 1996. Today conventional LASIK is performed in much the same way as it was when the procedure first became available in the U.S.:
- A hand-held blade, called a microkeratome, creates the flap in cornea in the first step of LASIK
- Your vision prescription is programmed into the LASIK excimer laser platform and the treatment is applied on the surface of the eye under the flap. The flap is then gently replaced over the treatment area.
- Conventional LASIK is typically the least expensive option and may be a good option for some.
Since the introduction of the conventional LASIK procedure, several advanced technologies have been developed and approved. These advancements may increase and improve the already very high safety and visual results provided in conventional LASIK and the latest data on patient satisfaction is based upon the use of various combinations of the latest LASIK technologies. Importantly, these technological advancements have resulted in more people becoming good candidates for LASIK. Today, modern LASIK includes the following options:
Custom LASIK (or wavefront LASIK):
A highly detailed preoperative analysis uses wavefront technology to measure and map the surface of the eye. Some surgeons include additional topographical data about your eye(s) acquired during the pre-op analysis which provides even more information. The data obtained is imported into the LASIK excimer laser platform to help provide a more accurate and precise vision correction treatment customized to your specific visual and anatomical measurements.
Femtosecond laser technology (all-laser LASIK or bladeless LASIK):
Laser technology replaces the microkeratome blade to cut the corneal flap in a procedure that is often touted as “all-laser” LASIK. Studies show patients have fewer flap complications, need fewer retreatments and have a greater likelihood of achieving 20/20 visual acuity or better when using all-laser LASIK.
If you want to take advantage of the benefits afforded by these technologies, you should expect to pay more than you would with conventional LASIK. The selection of technologies your surgeon offers, in addition to his/her skill and experience, may be what sets him or her apart from other LASIK providers. It is that combination, the specific skill, experience and technology, that goes into the price of your LASIK procedure. Understanding your options and having confidence in your surgeon will help you make the best investment in your health and vision when choosing LASIK.