Many factors affect the cost of LASIK such as the choice of surgeon, equipment and technology used, your vision prescription, location, and what fees are included.
COST OF LASER EYE SURGERY
There is not one "right" price for laser eye surgery. The amount you pay will be based on many factors, including the surgeon you choose, the equipment and quality of the laser system used, the time given to each patient and procedure, your vision prescription, and the type of procedures being performed.
Comparing LASIK Prices
When comparing advertised prices, you should also be comparing what is included in that amount and what is not. There can be a wide variation in what the advertised price includes. About the only thing that is the same no matter where you go, is that the price is quoted "per eye." Your best value is not going to be in finding the cheapest price per eye but in the total quality of service you'll be receiving for the total amount you'll be paying.
When the cost of LASIK surgery can vary from less than $1,000 to over $3,000 per eye, obviously wide differences exist.
Consider the following criteria:
SURGEON - The fee for a surgeon will be based on training and experience. A skilled surgeon with proper training and extensive operative experience will cost more than a surgeon with minimal training or a low amount of experience. Rather than trying to find the cheapest doctor, find out about the surgeon's credentials and record of procedures.
EQUIPMENT - Technology matters and state-of-the-art equipment costs more. Ask what laser system the doctor is using and make sure that it is FDA approved for the procedure you'll be receiving. As differences exist in the technology from machine to machine, you want the machine that is best suited to correct your vision prescription. It is also important that the equipment be properly maintained. The equipment is expensive to purchase (about $500,000) and costly to properly maintain (about $90,000 annually), costs that are reflected in the price of surgery. A discount price may indicate that substandard equipment is used or that maintenance is not what it should be.
TIME- Fees can vary based on the level of preoperative testing and postoperative check -ups. Many problems can be avoided with proper screening and testing, so it's important to find a doctor that will take the time to test and screen, answer questions and talk about expectations, explain procedures, risks and complications, follows up with postoperative check -ups, and performs enhancements if necessary. Ask if these tests and appointments are all included in the fee. A discount center may skimp on appointments or not provide adequate time with each patient. Also, while many reputable doctors quote prices that includes all visits and procedures, a discount center may lure you with a low surgery price, but bill you separately for tests, visits and enhancements.
PRESCRIPTION - The type of correction you need will be determined by your vision prescription. The more correction that needs to be done, the higher the cost. Most people are not eligible for the low price stated in ads that advertise "LASIK from $500 per eye" as their eyes require more extensive correction or more follow-up after surgery.
PROCEDURE - The surgery price will be based on what LASIK procedures you are getting. Custom LASIK uses wavefront technology to measure and map the eye, and costs more than traditional LASIK. LASIK with IntraLase which uses a laser to cut the flap in the eye rather than using a microkeratome, also costs more.
Average Cost of Conventional LASIK in 2008
Average Cost of Wavefront LASIK with Intralase in 2008
Consider More Than LASIK Price
With something as important as your eyesight, it is important to consider more than price. Look for a qualified doctor who uses up-to-date and well-maintained equipment, who will spend the time to properly evaluate your eyes and make the best recommendations for you, and will provide thorough follow-up care. When given the cost for your eye surgery, ask what is included in the fee and what is not included.