Personal Finance 

Is LASIK Laser Eye Surgery Worth It?

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EyeballNearly five years ago, I considered Lasik eye surgery but I never pulled the trigger. It wasn’t that I was afraid or concerned, I was just used to contact lenses, they didn’t bother me, and I felt like I didn’t need to fix something that wasn’t broken.

Fast forward to this year and my contacts are becoming less and less comfortable. On several occasions my eyes have been really bothered by them to the point I keep them out most of the day when I’m working from home. The only times I put them in are when I play sports and when we go out, it’s just more convenient.

The most common concern when it comes to Lasik is the price. It’s a several thousand dollar procedure and, as is the case with anything like that, not something you decide on without some deliberation. Fortunately, after a quick analysis, it’s actually not as expensive as you might thing.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Let’s say the typical Lasik procedure costs around $4500 – that includes all expenses related to the procedure and recovery. $4500 sounds like a lot but when you compare it with the cost of glasses and contacts for the rest of your life, it’s actually pretty cheap.

Note: I’m going to exclude the use of an FSA for the purposes of this analysis because you can use an FSA on both the Lasic procedure and for glasses and contacts. I figure it’s pretty much even for our purposes.

Cost of Contact Lenses: I’m 30 years old and if I weren’t to do Lasik, I’d probably wear contacts for at least another twenty years. I currently use the Air Optix Night & Day Aqua, which goes for $70 a box retail. One box contains a six month supply of contacts, so a full year’s supply is going to cost $280 a year. You can probably find it for cheaper, around $50 a box, so the actual price is closer to around $200 a year.

Vision Insurance: I believe typical vision insurance through an employer is around $12-15 a month for one person, which is balanced out by a $120 contact lens or glasses benefit. In other words, you pay for the insurance and “make it back” on contacts or glasses. The regular checkups are essentially free. That drops the actual cost of contacts to around $80 a year after insurance.

Glasses: Glasses are a little trickier to calculate because most people don’t get new glasses each year. Let’s say you get a new pair every three years, which is conservative enough an estimate, and those new glasses cost you $150. Over twenty years, that’s around seven pairs of glasses. That’s $1050 in glasses, assuming you don’t need replacements anytime soon.

Contact Lens Solution & Supplies: I used to use Opti-Free Replenish Solution, $15 for two 10 oz bottles. I’d conservatively use one bottle a month, so you’d need around $90 in solution each year. Now, I actually use Clear Care – No Rub Cleaning & Disinfecting Solution ($16) and then rinse with Bausch & Lomb’s Sensitive Eyes Plus Saline ($5). It adds maybe another $20 (for the saline) to the annual budget. $110 for contact lens solution each year.

To recap:

  • Contact lenses: $80 a year
  • Contact lens solution: $110 a year
  • Glasses: $150 every three years

For simplicity, ignore the time value of money and let’s just sum up the total cost for contacts over 20 years – $4850.

Ok, let’s not ignore simplicity and factor in the time value of money with an interest rate of 3%. 20 equal payments of $242.50 (that’s $4850 divided by 20) has a present day value of $3607.78. In essence, if you were to do Lasik for $4500, it really only “costs” you $892.21 – less than $500 an eye.

I’m getting the procedure on Thursday. 🙂

(Photo: neurotic_camel)

{ 33 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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33 Responses to “Is LASIK Laser Eye Surgery Worth It?”

  1. skylog says:

    this is something i have wanted to do for some time, but the more i read, the more worried i became. going in, i was totally unaware that after time the process can be needed again as the results may fade. this seems like a deal-breaker for me.

    regardless, i hope that it works/worked out for you jim!

  2. Cheryl says:

    My husband had Lasik surgery 2 years ago. He wanted to be able to see without his glasses while participating in sports, such as golf, bike riding, etc. When you decide to have the Lasik you have to choose between having far off vision or close up vision. After lasik your eyes will not readily adjust between the two. My husband now has 20-20 vision far off but had to wear reading glasses for any close up work. He can’t read a label on a box, paperwork or anything without searching for a pair of reading glasses. He has about 10 pairs all about the house, the cars and garage. Will he admit that he may have made a mistake? No, but he surely gets aggravated when he can’t find those reading glasses. Myself, I would rather just wear my glasses all the time and not worry about it. By the way, I know you are young but my husband was only 50 when he had his surgery. That’s only 20 years difference. Really think about it. Talk to someone over 50 who has had it and see what it will be like in 20 years.

  3. Lil says:

    I had Lasik performed in 2001 and I loved it. I went from legally blind to 20/20 and was so happy to get away from glasses and contacts. Unfortunately, my vision has continued to change and I back to needing glasses/contacts to drive and to do most things. However, I would do it all again. Quality of life was improved for many years, although I have battled with drier eyes (flax seed and flax seed oil help with that). My eyes are still far better than where they were when I had the procedure and where they would have been without them. Enjoy your new eye sight. Hope it lasts for you.

  4. Angeline says:

    I had laser eye surgery in 2009 and I am totally happy I did it. I did PRK instead of Lasik because I wasn’t comfortable with having my eyeball cut, it’s basically the same thing just takes a little longer to heal. The convenience ALONE is something I’m very happy about. I can run in the rain, I can SEE when I wake up, I can wear ANY pair of sunglasses (needed prescription before, or those snap-on ones over my regular glasse), don’t have to worry about accidentally sitting on or smushing my glasses…Love it!

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