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Contoura LASIK: Overview, Costs & Benefits

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Contoura is a form of personalized LASIK. Your doctor takes detailed measurements of your eye’s surface, and those details guide the laser during surgery.

Surgery with Contoura can eliminate common eye surface imperfections that impact your vision. Doctors remove less tissue in these surgeries too. And some surgeons say they can use the technique to address eye issues in people who are not ideal candidates for standard LASIK.

While Contoura is personalized and computer guided, it is also a form of surgery. Some people are not ready for this treatment. Your doctor might turn you away if your prescription is too strong, you have underlying health conditions, or you are not old enough.

The equipment your doctor needs for Contoura LASIK is expensive, and those costs are passed to patients. Expect to pay more for this procedure than you would for standard eye surgeries. But if you have struggled with vision loss due to eye aberrations, the cost could be worthwhile for you.

What Is Contoura LASIK?

lasik exam

Your eye’s surface is as unique as your fingerprint. Each hill and valley is formed by genetics and years of blinking, squinting, and rubbing. Sometimes, those surface issues add to your vision problems.

During a Contoura LASIK assessment, your doctor maps the eye’s surface at more than 22,000 points. During your surgery, the laser amends the points that harm you and follows the changes that do not. In a way, the assessment works like a roadmap for your surgery.

The company Alcon developed the Contoura method in 2015, and it was introduced to eye health professionals at an annual conference of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

At the time, Alcon released statistics about Contoura’s efficacy. The company claimed patients got:

  • Accurate vision. More than 92 percent of patients got vision measurements of 20/20 or better.
  • Better vision. Almost 65 percent of patients got vision measurements of 20/16 or better.
  • Great vision. Almost 35 percent of patients got vision measurements of 20/12.5 or better.
  • Few side effects. Patients did not complain about glare, light sensitivity, or night driving.

In early Contoura procedures, doctors guided the lasers and made decisions about what tissues should be removed or remain. That changed a few years later.

A second company developed a software program for Contoura machines. The program, Phorcides, adds additional measurement data before surgery, and the inputs are analyzed and fed into the machine. The program can then determine exactly how the surgery should progress. Developers call Phorcides “artificial intelligence” for the surgeon.

3 Known Contoura LASIK Benefits

Doctors do not guess what surgeries are and how they work. Instead, they run multiple studies comparing patient outcomes. Due to this extensive research, we know just what makes Contoura special.

Three clear benefits include:

  • New patient sets. Some doctors worry about performing LASIK on less-than-perfect eyes. Because Contoura is guided, it can reduce at least some risks associated with surgery. Some doctors will use Contoura on eyes they once considered untreatable with LASIK.
  • Better correction. Mapping and guiding mean your surgeon can remove optical imperfections on your eye’s surface. If left behind, they can lead to postsurgical symptoms such as glare, halos, and poor night vision.
  • Less removal. People who go through Contoura procedures have less tissue removed during the surgery when compared to other forms of LASIK.

Contoura is relatively new, and studies are ongoing. But these are just a few of the benefits that have become clear as experts study the technique.

Computers and fancy lasers can help to amend your vision, but you will still need surgery. Sometimes, you are not healthy enough to go through the procedure.

Contoura’s developers released in-depth guidelines about who should and should not get surgery.

woman hazel eyes

You might qualify if:

  • You are 18 years or older.
  • Your myopia reading is -9.0 diopters or less.
  • Your myopia reading is -8.0 diopters or less, with astigmatism of 3.0 diopters or less.
  • Your prescription is stable.

You do not qualify for surgery if you:

  • Are pregnant.
  • Are nursing.
  • Have a weak immune system due to heart or autoimmune disease.
  • Have keratoconus or other corneal degenerations.
  • Live with severe dry eyes.
  • Have thin stromal beds (less than 250 microns).
  • Deal with recurrent corneal erosions.
  • Have advanced glaucoma.
  • Can not control your diabetes.

Surgery is not recommended if you have:

  • Diseases that can impact wound healing, such as insulin-dependent diabetes
  • A history of herpes infection.
  • Severe allergies.
  • Mild or suspected glaucoma.
  • A history of taking Accutane.
  • Unusual results during your presurgical exam.

Your doctor may also reject your candidacy after an exam for reasons that are not specified here. Doctors have the final say in those they accept into their programs.

How Much Does It Cost?

On average, LASIK surgery costs $4,200 per eye. Some doctors charge more or less based on competition from other surgeons in their area. If you choose Contoura LASIK, expect to pay more than you will for a standard surgery.

Remember that Contoura is incredibly advanced. Your doctor must map the entire surface of your eye and feed all of that data into a computer program. Then, advanced lasers follow that map exactly to optimize your eye. The entire procedure is made just for you based on your exact measurements.

To perform this surgery, your doctor needs:

  • Equipment. Software and hardware are needed for your surgery.
  • Training. Your doctor must learn how to use these tools to improve your vision.
  • Time. Your doctor needs to spend additional time with each patient.

All of these needs add up to a surgery that is a bit more expensive. It is reasonable for doctors to ask their patients to help them cover these added expenses.

You could ask your insurance company to cover the cost. Unfortunately, it is rare for insurance policies to cover the full cost of LASIK surgeries, much less Contoura LASIK. Your company may offer a discount program to lessen your final bill. But expect to pay quite a bit out of your own pocket.

You may ask: Is this added expense worthwhile?

Only you can answer that question, in consultation with your doctor. But the surgery is a permanent change to your eye that can not ever be reversed.

Studies suggest that most people see better with Contoura, and they have fewer side effects after surgery. For many people, the added cost is definitely worthwhile.

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