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Although LASIK is one of the most popular vision surgeries in the world, it costs thousands of dollars per eye to correct your vision. It is understandable that you would want a discount, but misleading advertising and false claims from low-cost LASIK providers can be risky. (Learn More)
It is unfortunately true that many providers are less experienced or using older equipment, allowing them to cut costs on their LASIK operations, and this does not benefit your eye health. (Learn More) Newer types of LASIK, like Contoura LASIK, offer better outcomes than traditional LASIK for some, like people with nearsightedness; however, as a newer procedure, Contoura is likely to be expensive. (Learn More)
Advertising for discount LASIK may say you only pay $200 or $500 per eye, but there are often high hidden costs, including high rates for scheduled follow-up visits, if you get any. Ultimately, the price can end up the same or higher than those providers who offer transparent pricing structures. (Learn More) If you are interested in a discount LASIK deal or coupon, do your research on the surgeon and surgery center before going in for the operation. (Learn More)
The True Cost of LASIK: Some Discounts Are Misleading
The average cost of LASIK in the United States as of 2021 is between $2,000 and $3,000 per eye. If you need to get both eyes done, as most people with a refractive error do, you are likely to pay as much as $6,000 to have both eyes corrected.
Although some insurance companies are helping to lower the cost of LASIK for their members or covering part of the cost, this is rare for most vision insurance providers. If you want LASIK, you most likely must pay for it entirely by yourself.
It makes sense that so many people search for lower LASIK rates, discounts, coupons, or special deals at LASIK surgery centers. And many companies are happy to provide these. Unfortunately, you are at risk of getting bad service when you pay less for LASIK.
While there are some surgery centers, surgeons, and insurance discounts that can significantly lower the cost of LASIK, discounts listing LASIK rates at $250 or $500 per eye often have hidden fees, poor-quality service, and no follow-up visits.
The Unfortunate Truth About Why Some LASIK Costs Less
LASIK is one of the most common surgeries in the world, and it has excellent outcomes for millions of people globally. It is a medical procedure that is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). People who perform LASIK surgery must have specific training on the procedure with any machines they use.
Typically, the more a LASIK surgeon charges for the procedure, the better their equipment and more extensive their training. Also, they are more likely to include follow-up visits and be able to manage any issues or side effects after you get the operation.
Eye surgeons who offer discounts on LASIK are still trained because they must be licensed according to federal regulations. However, they may be less experienced, have lower levels of training, or be using older equipment. It is important for new LASIK surgeons to get experience, but not at the expense of your vision.
Using older equipment is another way for surgery centers to offer discounts. LASIK has been approved for almost 30 years. In that time, the lasers and other equipment used in the operation have improved greatly, with many technological advancements and a better understanding of how to improve vision outcomes for patients.
Older technology might be called bladed LASIK because the procedure used a very small surgical blade called a microkeratome. While this is a very safe option, microkeratomes are less precise than lasers, which are used in newer bladeless LASIK procedures.
While the risk is small, you might still develop scarring or have trouble healing after a procedure using a microkeratome. With a guided laser making the incision to reshape your cornea, your healing time will be reduced after the operation.
Contoura LASIK vs. Traditional LASIK
One of the latest advancements in LASIK procedures is called Contoura LASIK. While traditional LASIK used your standard refractive error measurement, a microkeratome, and more time in the operating room, Contoura LASIK offers a topography of your corneas so the lasers have better guidance to reshape this area. This highly precise map finds 22,000 unique elevation points in each eye, ensuring the laser reshapes your cornea as precisely as possible.
Although Contoura is an incredible advancement, the procedure only works for people with nearsightedness, or nearsightedness and astigmatism. Traditional LASIK and some types of bladeless LASIK can adjust other refractive errors, including these:
- Hyperopia or farsightedness
- Hyperopia with astigmatism
The only type of refractive error that LASIK is not recommended for is presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, since this condition can change faster than other adulthood refractive errors.
Still, Contoura is an excellent option for many people since nearsightedness is the most common refractive error in the world, with astigmatism being a close second.
False Advertising & Misleading Prices
Advertising is the main way most people learn about LASIK surgery options, centers, and discounts. However, many cheap LASK providers have released misleading advertising and promotions in the past, and they have been reprimanded as a result. The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) both monitor LASIK providers and truth in their advertising, but these groups may not always catch misleading statements or discount claims.
For example, in 2012, U.S. health regulators sent warnings to five different LASIK providers regarding misleading and false statements in advertising and promotions, which did not adequately report the success rates or side effects of LASIK procedures.
Many LASIK discounts mislead customers with falsely low prices. While these groups may be upfront that LASIK does not work perfectly for everyone, they may price their services at $200 per eye, $399 per eye, $499.99 per eye, or other absurdly low options.
The problem with these discounts is that the price is associated with just one part of the surgery — for example, the laser reshaping specifically — and does not cover your initial eye exam, mapping your corneas, or any surgical preparation like anesthetic. These are all additional expenses, leading to a total closer to $3,000 per eye or, sometimes, even more.
Worse, the cost will likely not cover your follow-up exams. If you received surgery from someone less experienced or with older machines, and the procedure left you with long-lasting side effects, poor healing, an overcorrection, or an undercorrection, you may not get the help you need as soon as possible after surgery because you have to schedule an eye exam with another practitioner.
Find the Right LASIK Surgeon
Finding the right surgeon for you is vital to getting the best LASIK outcome. Make sure to do your research. Take advantage of a free consultation with the surgeon, for example, so you can ask them questions about their practices, their experience, and the machines they use.
Read reviews about the surgeon too. Most LASIK surgeons or centers have online reviews that are easy to access. If a surgeon or center does not have many reviews, they may not be trustworthy.
Get a recommendation from your optometrist or ophthalmologist as well. You can also ask your eye care professional for help maximizing any vision insurance coverage available to you to offset the cost.
Never base your decision on cost alone. There are many ways to get help managing the cost of LASIK, including health savings plans or payment plans. Most often, discount LASIK or coupons are misleading.
Four Clever Ways to Get Free or Discounted LASIK Eye Surgery. (June 2017). Huffington Post.
LASIK Eye Surgery. (January 2021). MedlinePlus.
Contoura Vision LASIK. NVISION.
LASIK Advertising: Separating Fact from Fiction. (March 2016). American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC).
U.S. Reprimands Some Eye Centers on LASIK Surgery Advertising. (December 2012). Reuters.
Misleading LASIK Deals. QualSight.