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Lasik – Cost Benefit Analysis

Posted By Jim On 09/19/2005 @ 1:12 pm In General | 15 Comments

I thought about laser eye surgery [3], or Lasik as the cool kids call it, many years ago when it first became available. We didn’t have the money to consider it (still probably don’t) and I always considered it a spurious expense for the rich (it was significantly more expensive back then). But since then the technology has improved, the costs have come down, and I have a full-time job. The downside is that I also have a full-time mortgage payment regardless of how good my vision is. I currently wear contacts and it costs me about $120 for contacts (2 week Acuvue 2′s), about another $50ish for an eye exam, and $150 for a pair of glasses every two or three years (as I invariable step on old ones, scratch them, or otherwise inadvertently abuse them) – but through work I have a vision plan where I pay about $3-$4 a month and get a huge chunk of my costs knocked off my bill. So… is Lasik worth it?

According to AllAboutVision.com [4], the procedure has been increasing in cost due to better technology and more options but will probably run around $2,000 per eye.

I pay approximately $4 per month ($48/yr) for eye coverage and then an additional $120 a year for contacts (they cost more but my insurance covers the remainder). That’s still only a yearly outlay of $170 – so it would take nearly 24 years until the breakeven point, from a cost perspective. Let’s say I threw in new glasses every two years, or $75 a year, that’s $245 a year (that’s a lot!) for a breakeven point of 16.3 years! I suppose the benefit of not having to wear glasses or contacts covers the difference for most people otherwise it wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Is my math wrong or is Lasik so much better than just slapping in contacts in the morning? I know money isn’t everything, quality of life is, so I do understand the decision to undergo the procedure but the difference was a lot larger than I anticipated.


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[3] laser eye surgery: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/lasik/

[4] AllAboutVision.com: http://www.allaboutvision.com/visionsurgery/cost.htm

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