LASIK surgery costs, on average, between $2,000 and $3,000 per eye. Some types of surgery are more sophisticated and come with higher costs. Surgeon experience, advanced technology, success rates, lifetime commitments and patient care are all factors to consider.
Insurance plans typically will not cover the cost of surgery, as this is considered an elective procedure. But benefits you might have through your insurance coverage, as well as benefits offered by your surgeon, could help you to control how much your out-of-pocket costs are.
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Average Per-Eye Cost of LASIK Surgery
LASIK is a surgical procedure used to reshape the cornea and improve visual acuity. The surgery takes just a few minutes to complete, but it involves medications, sophisticated equipment, and talented surgeons.
Vision Service Plan, a vision health insurance company, reports that LASIK costs can vary. With older technology and less experienced surgeons, patients may pay $1,500 per eye. With advanced technology and expert surgeons, they can sometimes pay more than $3,000 per eye. Those fees often include:
- Pre-surgery care.
- The surgery, including any medications given as part of the surgery.
- Post-operative examinations and care.
- Follow-up surgeries if you do not get the correction you expect.
It might be helpful to understand that LASIK is a permanent solution to your existing vision issue. If you have been spending money on contact lenses, glasses, and other tools to correct your vision, you may not need those tools in the future. That makes your one-time investment a good one in terms of your yearly healthcare budget.
This LASIK savings calculator can help you determine your lifetime savings, which often numbers in the tens of thousands.
Variables That Can Change the Cost
Generally, the price of LASIK will include pre-op and post-op appointments. These visits are crucial to the success of the procedure and your ongoing eye health.
In your initial LASIK consultation and pre-surgical examinations, doctors will assess if you are a good candidate for LASIK and take measurements that will be used to plan your surgery. In post-surgical follow-up appointments, doctors will ensure that the procedure achieved its goals and your eyes are healing properly.
Your overall price will also include the cost of anesthetic eye drops that are used before the procedure.
Questions to Ask
Some discount clinics advertise very low-cost LASIK offerings. Oftentimes, pre-op and post-op appointments are not included in this cost, so it’s a bit of a bait and switch. Make sure you ask if all care is included in the quoted price.
Some clinics offer payment plans so you don’t have to cover the entire cost of LASIK up front. Instead, you can pay off the procedure over time via manageable monthly payments. Ask the clinic if this is an option for you.
Inquire about the type of equipment used during the procedure. Some clinics may offer discount pricing if you choose older machines that may not give you the results you want. Make sure you are clear on all these points before you commit to a particular clinic.
Will There Be Costs After My Surgery?
Generally, the follow-up care that is needed after LASIK surgery is included in the quoted price. This means your post-operative appointments that assess your healing and the results of the surgery are included.
If complications develop following your surgery, which are unrelated to the procedure, these may not be covered. As a general rule, you shouldn’t expect additional costs after your surgery for follow-up care.
Insurance Plans Will Not Cover Surgery
Typically, an insurance plan can offer you protections from price variability. Insurance companies form relationships with businesses, like hospitals and clinics, that offer medical care, and they agree on prices that will be paid. If a provider charges more than another company, the insurance provider can refuse to pay the excess.
Those protections are not in place for LASIK. Most insurance companies consider this to be an elective surgery. Insurance companies believe you should continue to use glasses or contacts to correct vision, rather than undergoing a surgery.
That means you will not be able to get "free" LASIK surgery with your insurance. Chances are, you will need to pay for the care you need on your own. The bill will come right to you, and it will be your responsibility to pay it. You will not be able to lean on your insurance company to negotiate the bill's terms for you. This also means that how much LASIK costs will not typically change whether you are with or without insurance.
How to Control Your Costs
While insurance plans may not cover the cost of surgery, some do have relationships with LASIK providers. Your insurance plan may offer you a discount if you choose to have surgery with a specific provider the company has an agreement with. You will still be responsible to pay for care, but the cost might be lower due to the negotiations done by your company. These relationships can help you to save money on your surgery.
Some providers also offer discounts based on the time of year or the procedure you need. Consumers should beware the lowest cost LASIK offers. Most often, the cheapest deals involve outdated technology, inexperienced surgeons or bait-and-switch tactics. Sometimes, offers have very restrictive requirements and hide many costs.
Some companies also offer financing plans. These plans allow you to finance the cost of your surgery, using monthly payments that fit into your budget.
Smart Decisions Take Time
LASIK surgery is permanent, meaning that the work done on your eyes cannot be undone. It pays to take time to investigate your options and invest in your health. The surgeon that offers you the lowest fee may not offer the technological advances you will need to reduce your risk of complications. The surgeon that costs more up front may be able to give you the level of vision you have been hoping for, which could make that added expense more than worthwhile.
You may also be inclined to only look for a LASIK surgeon near you, but if you live far away from any clearly reputable clinics, it is likely worth traveling in order to use a provider that you can be confident will deliver good results.
Every surgeon you meet should be upfront with you about how much the surgery costs and what is included within the fee. Armed with that information, you can make a solid choice about the surgeon you trust to work on your eyes.
Beware Cheap LASIK Offers or Coupons
There are many ways to get price reductions on LASIK. For example, choosing a LASIK surgery center rather than an individual surgeon can often get you access to medical professionals with experience and good equipment at a lower price because they pay less to rent or own office space.
You can get a health savings plan associated with your vision insurance, allowing you to save money for LASIK over time. You can also work with a LASIK professional to set up a payment plan and pay off the total cost of the procedure in installments.
While it is possible to find LASIK coupons or discounts, in many cases, these deals are too good to be true. Most of these coupons advertise absurdly low costs per eye, like $250 or $399 per eye.
These prices often cover only the cost of the laser itself. In very fine print on the coupon or website, they state that the deal does not cover any other necessary medical costs. For example, the cost may not cover:
- Preoperative screening.
- Medical consultation to ensure your eyes are healthy.
- Anesthesia drops for your eyes during surgery.
- Topographical mapping of your eyes, which is common in newer forms of LASIK.
While you are still required to go through a preoperative screening and you will need special eye drops to numb your eyes, the cost of these steps may lead to you spending thousands of dollars, not the hundreds you anticipated.
Even worse, some discount LASIK providers will not perform thorough health and safety checks since they are offering the operation for much less money. For example, they may fail to screen you and your eyes for common health risks or problems, such as the following:
- Chronic dry eye
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Problems with the shape of your cornea or iris
- How fast your refractive error is changing
When you are not properly screened before a LASIK procedure, you may believe you are a good candidate for the operation when you have risk factors that can affect your long-term outcomes. If your refractive error is changing rapidly, for example, the effects of LASIK will go away faster in the coming years, as your eyes continue to change. And refractive errors that change quickly can indicate underlying health problems.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, hormone levels can impact your healing rate. If you have underlying health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or even a history of cancer, changes in your body and ongoing treatments for these conditions can mean your eyes will not heal very fast. This puts you at risk of scarring, improper healing, and even worse vision than before you received the operation.
Misleading advertising is harmful to consumers, even if it is not technically breaking the law. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) both regulate advertising in the medical industry, including for LASIK practitioners. However, they may not catch every false claim or misleading coupon out there, so it is important to do research into LASIK providers yourself.
How to Manage the Cost of LASIK
According to the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC), the average cost of LASIK in the United States is currently $4,200. This is for both eyes. However, that is an average cost, meaning statisticians took samples of various LASIK costs all over the country and averaged them together. There are many factors that go into determining the cost of LASIK where you are.
One way to manage the cost of your LASIK procedure is to find the best type of LASIK or laser eye correction, giving you the maximum return on your investment. Since LASIK was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, traditional LASIK has become almost obsolete.
This type of procedure, also sometimes called bladed LASIK because of the use of a small surgical scalpel called a microkeratome, is still available. It is less expensive than LASIK that uses newer machines and procedures.
Other types of LASIK that might work better for you and save you money include:
Also called wavefront, wavefront-optimized, or topographic-guided LASIK, this procedure adds a step to your surgical evaluation. A special device will measure the topographical changes on your corneas and then determine how the lasers can best reshape this part of your eye to get you as close to 20/20 vision as possible. Most people who undergo this procedure get even clearer vision.
Many LASIK providers have upgraded to bladeless LASIK, or all-laser LASIK. While traditional LASIK uses a microkeratome to make an incision on the top of your cornea, bladeless LASIK uses lasers instead. This might be a different machine than the one that reshapes your cornea, and using a laser allows for smaller, more precise incisions. This can improve healing outcomes and reduce scarring.
One of the newer types of topographical LASIK, Contoura uses more advanced mapping technology to pinpoint as many as 22,000 unique elevation points in each cornea. This allows providers to program LASIK devices with extreme precision, giving you an even better chance of perfect visual acuity.
Tips for Better Rates
Newer advancements in LASIK can give you better results, less scarring, and faster healing with fewer side effects, but if you are a good LASIK candidate, standard LASIK might work fine for you. Seeking the latest technological advances means you might pay as much as $3,000 per eye for treatment or sometimes even more.
Choosing a trained LASIK professional with a good amount of experience, who may not be using the latest technology, means you work with someone who is familiar with their machines and has strong LASIK skills. This can improve your outcomes as much as simply going for the latest advancements and may allow you to pay less for the procedure.
You can also work with LASIK surgical centers, which provide space to several trained professionals in one building. The lowered cost of rent means the professionals can charge you fair fees, without adding too much for overhead costs.
Is LASIK Tax Deductible?
You can potentially deduct the cost of LASIK from your tax returns.
You’ll need to itemize your medical deductions on your return in order to claim it. If you claim the standard deduction, you won’t be able to do this. Since the standard deduction for 2021 is $12,550, you’ll need over $12,000 in medical tax deductions in order for it to be worthwhile to claim them.
It’s a good idea to talk to an accountant to assess your personal situation. In some instances, it might make sense to deduct all your medical expenses, including the cost of LASIK. In others, it might not be worth it.
How Much Does LASIK Cost? Vision Service Plan.
Are You Confused About the Cost of LASIK Eye Surgery? (March 2016). American Refractive Surgery Council.
Huge Health Care Price Differences Even Within Same Area, by State. (April 2016). USA Today.
What’s It Like to Have LASIK? Patient Shares Surgery, Recovery, Cost and More. (August 2018). Today.
How Insurance Covers LASIK and Other Laser Vision Correction Procedures. (July 2017). American Refractive Surgery Council.
How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost? (April 2020). American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC).
Contoura Vision LASIK. NVISION.
Find Out if LASIK Can Be Deducted From Your Taxes. (April 2021). The Balance.