Ophthalmologist examining a woman's eye
LASIK is a popular surgery to correct common vision problems, however, it is not a cure-all.

Is LASIK Eye Surgery Worth the Cost?

For people who are tired of wearing glasses and contact lenses, LASIK eye surgery is a very tempting option.

LASIK is a popular surgery to correct common vision problems, however, it is not a cure-all, writes Consumer Reports.

“More than half of the people who have it or other laser vision-correction surgery still need to wear glasses at least some of the time,” according to a 2013 Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 793 adults who had laser vision-correction surgery.

80 percent were "completely satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their surgery. Although, only nearly two-thirds were disappointed to find that they still had to wear glasses or contact lenses occasionally.

Since LASIK eye surgery is an elective medical procedure, most people have to pay out-of-pocket, which typically run upwards of $1300 per eye, and most insurers do not cover the procedure or they may cover only a small portion of the cost.

Given all those points, is LASIK worth the cost? For many satisfied customers, it seems it is, despite the negatives.

Let’s take a quick look at the basics on LASIK, the benefits, and tips to make an informed decision.

What Exactly Is LASIK?

LASIK stands for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis.

The procedure works by reshaping the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye, so light is focused onto the retina in the back of the eye.

LASIK surgeons create a flap on the surface of the cornea, then use a laser to reshape the cornea to correct vision. In wavefront, or custom LASIK, the surgeon maps the eye’s irregularities to correct focusing imperfections.

What Are the Benefits of LASIK?

  • It is very effective in correcting vision. If you are not completely satisfied, an enhancement may help further improve the results.
  • It works quickly. Many people walk out with an immediate difference; for others, the change is evident the next day.
  • It is convenient, as the procedure is often an in-office procedure with only local anesthetic.
  • As your vision changes with age, adjustments may be made.

For many people, one procedure is all it takes – no more glasses or contacts again. However, some may need to wear glasses or contact lenses after LASIK, but their vision will be dramatically improved – and they will not be as dependent on eyewear.

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Is LASIK Eye Surgery Safe?

While thousands of people have benefited from LASIK surgery, there is the potential for problems during the procedure. Creating the flap can permanently affect your vision. That is why you should make sure your surgeon is very experienced in performing LASIK.

Moreover, despite how promising LASIK is, you must keep these side effects in mind:

  • In rare cases, an infection does result from surgery, which means a longer healing process.
  • Undercorrection or overcorrection: Patients may still need to wear corrective lenses even after surgery. Undercorrections may be adjusted with a second surgery.
  • Worse vision: In rare cases, vision is worse after LASIK.
  • Difficulty with night vision, including glare and halo effect.

Some people are not good candidates for LASIK. Laser surgery requires healthy eyes that are free from retinal problems, corneal scars, and any eye disease.

How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost?

The typical per-eye price for LASIK is $1,657, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

However, prices vary widely, with 7 percent saying they paid less than $499 per eye; 12 percent paid between $2,500 and $3,999 per eye; and 4 percent shelled out $4,000 or more per eye. Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed couldn’t recall what they paid.

The average national price for custom LASIK, in which the surgeon uses a wave-front sensor to guide a computer-controlled laser, is $1,822, according to Healthcare Blue Book. The average national price of Custom-Bladeless LASIK, in which the surgeon uses a laser to create the corneal flap, is $2,069.

Is It Worth the Cost?

Given the high satisfaction rate shown in a Consumer Reports survey, most people would likely say it is worth the cost.

Ask friends and family about trusted LASIK providers they have used, and make an appointment to discuss the procedure.

The ophthalmologist will examine your eyes to determine if you are an optimal candidate for the procedure – or if you need a different laser procedure. Ask all your questions to make sure this is a right choice for you. The FDA’s website provides a “surgery checklist” to help you make an informed decision.