Health & Beauty

The Cost and Benefits of LASIK Surgery {From a Frugal Perspective}

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If you have bad eyesight, you need to read this post about the cost and benefits of LASIK surgery. It could change your whole perspective!

Years ago, it seemed like LASIK was becoming as much of a trend as skinny jeans in the local department stores. Ick.

Almost all my friends were doing it, and even though I had really bad eyesight, LASIK was not on my radar. Not only am I deathly afraid of sharp objects {especially those pointed at my eyes}, it was also super expensive!

Nope, glasses and contacts worked just fine. Until they didn’t, and LASIK became the only other alternative.

Can I just lament how hard it was for me to spend that kind of money?! Even when I really needed it? I absolutely hate unplanned expenses, and LASIK certainly became one of them. Even though we didn’t go into debt for it, there were still areas of our budget that we had been trying to save up for….a.k.a… a down payment for our Florida house.

So yeah, that definitely was pushed off for another couple months.

Despite the financial setbacks though, LASIK truly was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I don’t say that lightly. So, if you’ve ever thought about LASIK, or seriously considered it, here are some things you should probably know before you schedule that appointment.

Or should I say…..they were things I wish I would have known!

The Cost of LASIK

LASIK is considered a cosmetic procedure, so it’s pretty rare for any insurance to cover it. I would also say it’s a mega “splurge”, and is only done if you have the extra money for it. {Which, let’s be honest, extra money is just as rare as LASIK being covered by insurance!}

As far as the actual cost, prices are pretty much all over the place. However, the most common seems to range from $1,000-$2,000 per eye. Mine ended up around the $1,000 mark, but only after I shopped around. And yes, you should shop around for LASIK!

My first instinct {and rightfully so} was to simply accept the referral from my eye doctor, but after an expensive first visit and a price tag that gave me many restless nights, I decided to make a few calls.

I’m so glad I did! Not only did I save on the eye evaluation appointment {which ended up being free}, I also shaved $2,000 off my final cost.

The Benefits of LASIK

Although I was convinced I would love the end results, there was practically no limit to my nerves as the surgery date approached. I read just about everything I could about LASIK, because for some reason, I thought the more information the better.

And yes, I am totally admitting to watching a YouTube video of LASIK the morning of my surgery. It didn’t calm my nerves….at all.

Obviously, I went through with it, and despite a few days of uncomfortableness, I was absolutely thrilled with my new eyes.

  • My vision isn’t quite 20/20, but close – 20/30.
  • No more buying contacts, solutions, and glasses when the previous years’ break or go out of style. {by my estimate, LASIK will have paid for itself within 5-6 years}
  • Lifetime awesome vision, but FYI – I will still need reading glasses when I turn 40ish.

The only thing I didn’t expect was how dry my eyes felt for the weeks and months following the surgery. In fact, they still get pretty dry if I stare at a computer too long or stay up too late. But it’s nothing that a few drops here and there can’t fix, and if that’s all I have to deal with, I’m one happy girl!

Is LASIK Right For You?

So in the end, my frugal opinion on LASIK is this: If glasses or contacts bother you to the point of serious annoyance, save up for this surgery. 

Notice I said save up, not just go and do it. I’m a big proponent of conscious spending, but if you have more important things like debt to pay off first, then obviously, I would suggest doing that before jumping into a procedure like this.

However, it’s not impossible to save up for either. Remember my little mantra? “You can afford what you prioritize”, and if LASIK is a desire, then make it a priority. Start stashing away the extra pennies, and then go get it done. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret doing so!

For those who have considered LASIK even just a little bit, if you have any questions at all after reading this post, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

I’m also going to label myself a super nerd, and say that I have a eye care spreadsheet that I made for myself, and anyone who will be undergoing the procedure in the future is certainly welcome to it. You have a ton of drops to remember, and this really helped me figure out what I needed and when. If you would like a copy – just email [email protected]

Whew! I apologize for such a long post. I hope it was at least a little bit helpful!

How seriously have you considered LASIK surgery?

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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42 Comments

  1. I have never thought about it until I knew you and my brother both did it. If my vision in my right eye goes bad at any time I might just have it done on my left eye (legally blind) to compensate. But for right now, I couldn’t rope in my nerves enough to do it even if I had the money to do so!

    1. Question: I have been considering/ saving for multiple years now but am weary about the side effects. In one post, the patient said she needed eye drops to compensate her dry- itchy eyes multiple times everyday (going on 5 years). Do you still need drops? is it painful or just slightly irritating, like contacts sometimes get at night?

      1. Hi Katarina! Any research that I have done shows that long term side affects are rare. I had to use drops several times a day for about 2 years {mainly because I stare at a computer screen for hours and hours each day} but it has lessened to the point where I only put them in when I wake up and when I go to bed. For me the maintenance is far less then when I wore contacts so it was really worth it. I would definitely talk to your eye surgeon about your concerns though because they may be able to tell you if you are more at risk for long term side affects.

  2. I am with you – if you can live with glasses and contacts, do it. It’s when you can’t that it is totally worth exploring. If you are able to get approved, some doctors have financing. I spread out the payments so that I would be paid off before incurring any finance charges. Also, when I had it done in 2004, I was able to use flexible spending – so if your company has that as a benefit (and it is still an approved expense), it’s worth doing as well to save you from being hit all at once since you can withdraw the money right away without even saving it all first. I now have 20/15 vision (better than 20/20) and I am 41 and still don’t need any other glasses so definitely worth it for me! Best investment I ever made!

    1. I did look into financing through my doctor, but it was only a credit card, and I really didn’t want to have to open another account. :/ On the bright side though, I’m excited to hear that LASIK is still working for you. It gives me hope for when I get a little bit older!

  3. I actually had the surgery scheduled but canceled it due to an overseas trip within a week or two of the surgery. Being far away from home and the doctor that soon and in a dusty environment made me cancel the surgery. I am not sure if I will reschedule it anytime soon.

  4. I would do this today if I had the funds set aside; it’s hard to prioritize when thinking of other goals that are really necessary (increased retirement & education funding). Some day (hopefully sooner than later;-). Thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. I know what you mean. I’m working on trying to find some extra funds to start aggressively saving toward retirement. It’s so hard when there are a TON of things to save for!

  5. At my last eye appointment my doctor told me of a new option to Lasik. It’s an implantable contact that is fully reversible. In addition once I turn 45 there is a version they can implant that will basically remove any need for readers or cataract surgery in my future. I’m 40 now and do not hate my contacts, so waiting will not be a problem for me at all! One of my biggest fears of Lasik is related to potential side effects, such as the starburst effect that cannot be reversed or fixed.

    1. The side effects are scary, which is why I had never really thought about LASIK until I absolutely needed it. I’m just so thankful everything worked out!

  6. Just saw this on Pinterest and it was a good read. I’ve thought about it, but certainly haven’t prioritized it. Of course, buying contacts all the time is adding up!! Thanks for the information.

  7. I agree with all your comments and have a few things to add. I had my eyes corrected with one eye for reading and one for distance. That in its self takes adjusting to. Also, I was not prepared for the blistering pain the day after. I can only describe it as feeling Iike ground glass with bleach poured over it in my eyes. This is not to scare anyone, just wish someone had prepared me. I also was not the typical patient. It took my eyes a good 6 months to permanently “correct”. I had to have 3 separate prescriptions in my glasses during this time. Luckily all this was covered in my initial price. So please, when shopping around think about the trips back for check-ups if things don’t go “perfectly”. Even with all this, I would do it all over. It’s wonderful waking up and not having to reach for my glasses or put in contacts to see! Oh, and I have night blindness (which is common I’ve been told).

    1. I had prepared myself for the pain, but either my numbing drops were incredible, or it just wasn’t as bad – I was so thankful! I’m glad you bring this up though, because these are things that are good to know for others considering the surgery!

    2. Gail…I just had the same surgery two days ago and I am concerned with the sharpness of such things as road signs. Did u have any issues with this?

      1. Although I personally did not have any issues with blurriness, I do know that my doctor said it can take up to a week before things are really clear. If it doesn’t clear up, I would definitely give your surgeon a call!

  8. I had LASIK almost 2 yrs ago and it was the best decision I’ve made. I had monovision correction which keeps me from needing reading glasses at age 45. My vision was not immediately clear due to dryness but I did get plugs in my tear ducts which helped immensely. It was at least six weeks before I felt my vision settled in. There were some halos at night but this went away after a couple of months. My vision was at negative 750 before surgery and is now 20/15 in both eyes. Love it!!!

  9. I am incredibly frugal. I even had some money set aside for years, but both fear and money (We could have used it for a vacation:) ) kept me from getting it done. It has been 5 years now and my only regret was waiting so long. Even though I am very frugal, I waited for someone to report in about a really good experience. When I did, I didn’t check price I just went for it. I kind of thought that was not a good place to save money, remember the King of Queens episode? Plus it’s true, I have saved so much money not buying all the contacts and stuff that goes along with it.

    1. I had very similar thoughts, and would have probably gone with the original surgeon had I not felt so uncomfortable in his office. I’m just glad I found someone else that was good – the bonus was his cheaper rates!

  10. I had Lasik about a year ago and it’s the best thing I ever did for myself. Glasses always gave me a headache and it had gotten to the point that my contacts always irritated my eyes. I didn’t have any problems or pain after the surgery. I might have been able to find a cheaper doctor, but he was highly recommended by lots of friends. With no interest financing it made it very affordable. My eyesight was so bad I couldn’t see the big E on the eye chart and now my right eye is 20/30 and my left is 20/20. When people ask my favorite thing about having it, I tell them now I can see to shave my legs in the shower. Lol

    1. It’s definitely better to go with someone who comes highly recommended by those you trust. On a similar note, my eyesight was just about as bad as yours! 🙂

  11. Through my insurance at work (BCBS), I was offered a discount on LASIK (20% off), so it wasn’t “covered,” but that certainly helped. I found out about it almost at the last minute. The week of my surgery, which we had saved up for, my dog ended up having major emergency surgery. Although I would never advocate this, I took advantage of the 0% financing offer through my LASIK provider (actually through Wells Fargo) so we could go through with both at the same time. It all worked out in the end, and like you said, I would have done it 100 times… best decision I ever made, especially since I had chronic dry eye from contact use. I just wish I would have done it sooner.

    1. Every little bit does help – and wow – that sounds like quite the week! Glad the financing was available {and that your dog is OK!} 🙂

  12. Hi there. I had lasik about 4 yrs ago when I was 25. I had a stable RX for many yes and was no longer able to wear contacts. They became so uncomfortable! Glasses were such a bother that I opted to do lasik. Best thing I’ve ever done. Highly recommend. But I will say ur RX can still change. I am still better Than I ever was but now have to wear glasses to drive or see things far away. Lasik isn’t always a permanent fix but well worth the price:)

  13. I have thought about having this done. BUT I would never “shop around” to get a better price. I would get referrals from people I know, and I want the Best Doctor. Not so sure I can get this done due to dry eye, I certainly don’t want to make it worse. I only have one set of eyes and am terrified of what might happen. I might just call the doc and see what she says.

    1. Definitely do what you feel MOST comfortable with. I did not like the doctor that was referred to me, which is why I made a few calls to other offices. But yes, don’t mess with your eyes and you want to feel 100% ready to commit to the surgeon that will be doing it! As for the dry eye, the LASIK side effects are dry eyes months after the surgery, and I’m still using drops twice a day 7 months later, so you will definitely have to chat with your doctor about that too.

  14. I’m so glad I found this. I’ve been thinking about lasik recently because my eyes can no longer stand my contacts 🙁 I’ve been scared to do it, but reading how happy others are to have done it makes me more and more interested.

    1. That was exactly my situation too, and I was terrified! I’m SO SO glad to have done it though, and definitely ask for an anxiety reducer in the office when you go. You’re not completely knocked out, but you go into a bit of a haze, which makes everything a little bit easier to bear. Even so, my biggest fear was that it would be painful, and it wasn’t, even during the procedure and after.

  15. Its funny that I came across this article today as I was just thinking earlier that I am coming up on the 1 year anniversary of Lasik surgery. Hands down this is one of the best things I ever could’ve done for myself. I was basically legally blind before the procedure and now my vision is 20/15. The ways that it has improved my life makes it worth every penny spent. Im not sure if this is a side effect or not but I do have a hard time being outside without wearing sunglasses, even on over cast days. I guess I don’t see needing to have an awesome array of cute sunglasses as a negative though. 🙂

    1. I agree with you about the sunshine – my eyes are more sensitive to it as well. I love your excuse for cute sunglasses though! 😉

  16. I had LASIK about 14 years ago and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done! I worked in an eye doctors office and actually had it done for FREE which was a huge blessing. The cost was about $3,000 – $3,500 per eye at the time. I’ve had no complications, no halo and I see great at night. I did get dry eyes afterward and every morning I use eye drops after waking. I’m 42 now and my reading vision is still good so far as well, though I’m sure I’ll need readers sometime this decade. I was really nervous too the day of surgery. I had the option of watching the surgery right before mine on a monitor in the I’m next up room. I watched it and wish I hadn’t. My nerves would have been so much better being ignorant of what the doctor was doing! That being said, I started seeing better immediately after my procedure was done, it was amazing! One of the first thing I remember was seeing the leaves on trees…it was great!

    1. That’s really encouraging to know that you are still seeing really clearly. They did tell me I would need reading glasses eventually, but I’m hoping to put that off as long as possible!

  17. Two friends of mine both had the LASIK ,It wasn’t painful to them recovery was a day or two at best,Yes they use eye drops and They used a payment plan.To add,one is 53,the other friend is 39 ,which is her niece.
    This was 4 weeks ago,I have been approved for it and Now I’ll update you on all the pros and cons of my LASIK .My Dad had it done for Cataractes,He did not have to wear glasses for just over a year.it was predictable because of his history of eye problems.
    I am tired of glasses and contacts ,Annoying to me.I have a pair of regular green contacts just cause I love the color in my eyes.
    Don’t be timid,Do it!

  18. Both my husband and I have had Lasik done and it was honestly the best money we’ve ever spent. Simply being able to wake up on he morning and be able to SEE the alarm clock was the most amazing thing ever.

    With the high cost of contacts and glasses and eye exams (even with insurance), it’s totally worth it in my opinion, especially the confidence and convenience you gain from having it done, which you can’t really put a price tag on.

    As far as shopping around for the best price, I’m kind of leery about that advice. The commercials that offer “buy one eye, get one eye free” really kind of freak me out to be honest. Since this is something that can make your life better or completely destroy it (if something goes wrong) then I would say it’s better to take referrals from friends and family you know and trust who have already had it done. That’s what we did and we had more of a peace of mind knowing that people we trust had already used the same doctor with success. Ours only ended up being about $1500 per eye, so it fell right around the middle ground, but the peace of mind was worth not hunting down a lower price.

  19. I came across your post while looking for Lasik on Pinterest. Oh how I can relate to the cost, the benefits, and the dry eye. I was prepared for the cost (mostly) and knew it was considered cosmetic. I think what I was not prepared for was the dry eye after. I am two months post and my eyes are still dry. They get drier during certain times of the month. Found out that is hormonal. It, in a strange way, is nice to know that I am not alone in thinking the dry eye is lasting longer than I thought it would. Fingers crossed it is better at the 3-month mark. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Heather! I hope this doesn’t disappoint you, but I just passed the 1 year mark, and I still have to use drops at least twice a day — mostly in the morning and then right before I go to bed. But it may also be that my job has me sitting at a computer all day, which has a tendency to dry out eyes even more. I hope it clears up for you soon! {And I did not know the hormonal part — interesting!}

  20. I must say I enjoyed your article, I felt that quite a bit of your advice was helpful and insightful…however the only bad advice I believe you gave is that you recommended to shop around based on PRICE. I disagree with this method, this is your eye sight we are talking about not a new piece of furniture. One should shop around for the right DOCTOR, research credentials, experience, and educational history (doctors who have done LASIK fellowships have excellent experience). Not to mention that LASIK does not have to include a BLADE…there are numerous laser vision correction procedures that offer bladeless options, so researching for a doctor in your area that offers these options is important if you fear the blade or anything near year eye. If you chose your eye surgeon based on extensive research you should find a doctor that goes over any long term results from your surgery-for example dry eyes-which is a common side effect of having LASIK for many individuals-the surgeon I consulted with (free consult by the way) specifically outlined what to expect after surgery and he openly told me that using “rewetting drops” like Refresh Tears or Systane would be something that would most likely happen. He even talked about potential glare issues at night-another common side effect-again one of those things that you get when you research the doctor and not the price. Sure the surgeon I ultimately picked was on the higher end of price, but he had over 10 years experience, had spent most of his first years out of residency at a clinic that specialized in laser vision correction procedures and LASIK. Almost all of his staff had even had surgery with him and were able to share their stories. He had even invented recent surgical instruments and methods for cataract surgery and laser vision correction procedures that I found available on the internet when I researched him (and no not just on his website)….Ultimately, in my opinion when it comes to surgery for your eyesight or any surgery at all for that matter-You get what you pay for.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for joining in on the conversation. I agree with you whole heatedly that you should not make this decision based on price alone! However, I don’t believe that high prices will mean instant quality. As I was making this decision I went to the (more expensive) surgeon that my eye doctor recommended for a consultation. During the consultation (which I had to pay for) I got to spend maybe 5 minutes with the surgeon where he took a quick look at my eyes, said I was ok to get the surgery, and he started to leave the room. He did not take any time to answer any of my questions and pretty much just handed me paperwork to sign up for my appointment. I left that appointment realizing that at that office I was not going to get what I paid for but instead was going to be herded through their system like cattle.

      When I started shopping around I found another eye surgeon who also had years of experience and all the latest equipment, blade-less and all. The doctor sat down with me and asked me what my questions and concerns were and spent a lot of time going over everything with me to make sure I would feel comfortable. All in all he and the nurses probably spent an hour or so with me in the FREE consultation. When I left his office I was much more comfortable not just with the quality of the upcoming surgery but also with the price!

      I think there is some merit to you get what you pay for – but I think we should be careful to because we shouldn’t assume that just because it’s more expensive it will be the best quality. But ultimately it is up to each individual feeling comfortable with the care from doctor that they choose – that is what is most important.

  21. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. As someone who has dealt with the annoyance of contact lenses for more than 12 years, I have been ready to get LASIK for quite some time now. Like you said, I have to search for all the information before making the decision. I’ve had to go out of my way to find something negative about the procedure. I can’t find anything. Not one bad thing about it. Already went in for my free consultation and I plan on going to get it done (hopefully!) within the next 3-4 months. I am SO excited and (rightfully) nervous

    1. Hi Kaitlyn! You’ll be so excited when you wake up, open your eyes, and life isn’t blurry anymore!

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