LASIK is one of the most widely performed operations in the world. It’s the modern, precise way to fix your eyes instead of wearing contacts. Current technologies provide accurate outcomes and statistics show that LASIK is far safer than wearing contact lenses. But cost can be an issue, especially since the best time to have LASIK is in early adulthood.
But what if LASIK and contacts cost the same?
LASIK falls into a broader category called refractive surgery, procedures that aim to permanently correct vision problems once a patient’s eyes have matured. Dr. Guy Kezirian, a board certified ophthalmologist and founder of the Refractive Surgery Alliance, works tirelessly to undo the stereotypes of LASIK. He says it is a procedure for nearly everyone, affordable for everyone, and, in the long run, cheaper than glasses and contact lenses. With a slew of modern lasers and medical devices, ophthalmologists have never been in a better position to correct vision surgically, and are doing so in a way that makes it affordable for all.
My vision is just slightly incorrect, why do I need a surgical procedure when I have glasses?
Many would argue that vision may be the most important sense we have as humans. “We use our vision every single waking moment; it becomes part of us,” says Dr. Kezirian. “We forget that it is our vision that makes it possible to do so many things.”
Ocular science developed lenses in the form of glasses and now contacts for people with issues to see fully again. Even still, those who have limitations corrected by glasses and contacts know that without those tools, they are truly limited in many more ways than we would initially think.
Refractive surgery is the next step from glasses and contacts as it is a way to correct vision, but the results are permanent. Being dependent on glasses and contacts to see is fine for most people, but that dependency remains for life.
“There are many reasons why many people want their eyes able to see well without glasses; we call this independent vision,” says Dr. Kezirian. “It’s possible with today’s technology. Refractive surgery (mostly LASIK, but there are several other procedures as well) can typically deliver vision that’s as good or better than people have with glasses and contact lenses.”
When is the right time to have the procedure and how much will it set me back?
“The right time to get your eyes fixed is when they’ve grown to their full size,” says Kezirian. “Ocular maturity is the term we use to describe that, and it typically occurs around the age of 15. We like to have a little time after that to let your eyes stabilize, so 18 is around the best age to get refractive surgery.”
Even if your eyes are ready to be fixed, the most salient question is how much is this going to cost. A surgeon utilizing lasers in an operating room sounds a lot more expensive than simply getting a new pair of contacts.
“Most people end up waiting to have refractive surgery because of the financial barrier. It’s about $5000 for most of the procedures in most of the centers,” says Kezirian. “That’s a large single payment, but if you look at the life-time savings compared to wearing contacts and glasses, it’s $15-20,000 saved. To overcome this, we’ve come up with a concept called parity financing. This allows us to provide the service of refractive surgery at the same cost as the cost you would spend monthly on glasses and contact lenses.”
With financing available, Dr. Kezirian works to educate would-be patients on the incredible benefits of the procedure while making sure they know that it will cost about the same as you’re spending right now.
“With parity financing, the financial cost goes away,” says Kezirian. “It would be the same you’re spending now on glasses and contacts, but you can have refractive surgery and begin to enjoy the benefits right away.”