Your Take 

Your Take: Was Lasik Surgery Worth It?

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Today the Your Take is a bit of a selfish question about Lasik, something I’m starting to consider more seriously again. I first wrote about this a few years ago when I considered Lasik eye surgery but never pulled the trigger (I went as far as to schedule just one consultation but was a little turned off at the “used car salesman” sales tactics).

If you’ve had Lasik, I’m curious if you thought the laser surgery was “worth it?” Everything I’ve ever heard from people has been positive, outside of the relatively high costs, and I’m curious to hear from people on both sides. Are there folks who were unhappy? How much did it cost and where was it performed? Are there folks who can be more specific about what they like about their experience? I’ll probably consider it next year, especially since it seems the liquid travel restrictions on flights won’t be lifted anytime soon, and was trying to gather more information.


{ 66 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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66 Responses to “Your Take: Was Lasik Surgery Worth It?”

  1. Erica says:

    I just got LASIK yesterday, so perfect timing (although I haven’t had a chance to do a full write-up yet). I am scheduled to go back this morning for an exam to check everything. So far, so good- I can already see across the room.

    I went to 2 places for consultations, but decided on the Eye Care Institute, over LasikPlus. Cost was relatively the same 4,000-4,2000 but I was able to get discounts through my employer’s vision care plan. A comment about LasikPlus is that you don’t get to meet the surgeon until the day of surgery and that my friend felt like they did so many, that they just put you in a cattle line.

    At the Eye Care Institute, I felt like Dr. Meyer really cared about the health of my eye and wouldn’t recommend surgery unless it was the best thing for me. I also felt more comfortable because they do more than just LASIK, and know more about eye health.

    Also, comparing stories with others who have recently gotten LASIK, a co-worker said that where she went, during the surgery (which only lasts 10 minutes) the doctor didn’t do a good job about explaining what they were doing and what she would experience- and it scared her at certain points.

    Another thing to look at is the post-op care and what is included. Some places include a year of monitoring, some include enhancements for a year, or some for life. I’m not sure how common it is for someone to have to have an enhancement, but it is something to consider.

  2. Tonja says:

    I had Lasik five years ago. I’m super-wimpy and was freaked out by the thought of it. My husband and best friend both went for consultations and they weren’t good candidates (eyes too bad/thin corneas). Of course I went in and was the “perfect candidate.” After it was over, I was able to drive the next day and haven’t had any problems since. Couldn’t believe I waited so long. The worst part about the actual procedure is that they use tape to tape your eyelids open – that’s the only part I could feel. The actual procedure was a breeze. I did have to use the drops they provided for a good couple of months for dry eyes. Other than that, super easy and no complaints.

  3. saladdin says:

    December is my 1st eye surgey anniversary. I told everyone last Christmas that no one is getting presents, I am spending it all on this surgery.

    Mine used a plastic fitting over the eyes to keep them open. Weirdest part is the smell of your eyes actually burning from the laser.

    Every place is different, but mine was $3200 in The Great State of Tennessee. Other then that night in vegas with those 5 strippers and the goat it was the best purchase of my life.

    I would not even look at any sort of “money analysis” for this. The average bear, with insurance, will probably never recoup money saved on contacts etc… It’s a quality of life issue. I wore glasses/contacts for 30 years or so and let me tell you, if you have the money and don’t get this surgery ( and be a good candidate) you are losing out big time.


  4. otipoby says:

    How timely. I had Lasik 9 yr ago and think it is the closest thing to a miracle I have ever experienced. Zap, Zap, and you can see without glasses.
    With that being said, I am going to have to get glasses again (very soon). One eye, I know is still 20/20. The other eye isn’t and I can tell.
    I know the technology has improved since I had it done. I highly recommend getting it done. My only suggestion, use the drops like they are free.

  5. Chuck says:

    Lasik was by far the best investment I ever made in myself. I literally got it about a year after I got a “real” job out of college since my company had a FSA. As a medical procedure you can use FSA money to fund it…knocking off a relative third of the cost due to the money not having to be taxed. Right now I’m about 4 years after having it done and I still have 20/20 w/ no halos or any other side effects. Its awesome rolling out of bed, taking a look outside, and being able to pick out the individual leaves on a tree.

  6. Stu says:

    I had lasik about 3 years ago. It was a great investment. I had 20/400 vision and now I have near 20/20. I would recommend it to anyone who is a good candidate.

    The only bad part was it felt like I had gravel in my eyes for the first couple of hours after surgery. But that was temporary.

    Since then I have been enjoying waking up and seeing my beautiful wife without having to reach over and put on my glasses.

  7. Ryan says:

    My wife got lasik last year (she was 24). Has 20/20 now. She was kind of scared before/during the procedure, but I don’t think it was a pain issue.

    Local radio stations here offer $700 off cards for lasik operations. It was expensive, but she called it her college graduation/job offer present to herself.

    Of course we got married and I helped pay the bill.

  8. mikestreb says:

    I had lasik 6 years ago and love it. Cost me $4,600 but I would say it was well worth it. Nighttime driving is the only downside for me. Headlights coming at me have ‘starbursts’ coming off of them making it harder to see, but it is something I have gotten used to.

    I did it young (18 yrs old) so I know my eyes are going to change and I will need a ‘touch up’ in maybe 10 years.

    If your eyes havn’t changed in say 10 years, I would definitely go have a consultation. Prices should have dropped by now too. I would stay away from the places charging like $250 per eye.

  9. Matt K says:

    I got lasik about 5 years ago at TLC in rockville (same doc that did tiger wood’s eye). I love it. I love not having to worky/bother with glasses anymore. I got it done friday. I was seeing halos for about 3-4 days. and then i was fine. I see far better than i can ever remember. I absolutely love it. best decision i ever made. and I had used my FSA account for the surgery so it didn’t hurt as bad. 😀

    do it!

  10. brad malone says:

    I was just considering this myself so I talked to my father. He had it done and is not sure it was the right choice. He is in his 60s and so he found that since he cant see anything close up now, he is constantly having to carry glasses around with him. He leaves them around all the time and seems to be constantly looking for them.

  11. zapeta says:

    I’ve considered it but never had a consultation. I have heard stories of people who end up with much worse vision after the surgery than they had before. I’m used to having glasses and I’d rather just buy new glasses as needed than have surgery.

  12. It’s been about six years sense I had lasik surgery. My vision went from 20/300 (i.e., I would run into walls without my glasses on, and my wife could play tricks on me by switching the shampoo and body wash in the shower) to 20/16. I’ve degraded slightly to 20/24 since then.

    I’ll tell you the same thing I tell everyone I talk to about it: Do it now. The sooner the better.

    Ask your optometrist for a referral to a reputable surgeon. You’ll probably pay more that way (I paid about $3K total), but I would never trust my eyes to a walk-in place.

    The experience was remarkably easy. I had the surgery Tuesday afternoon. I was seeing more clearly immediately (“immediate” meaning that I was seeing more clearly out of my right eye as they were finishing up my left eye five minutes later). I went back to work the next day. Since then, I’ve had no ill effects, and absolutely no regrets.

  13. Bill says:

    I went to Canada and paid like $800 US back in 1996, my wife did it a year later. My contacts where $100+ per 6 months and I really hate them so it was easy question for me and we both have no regrets. I had a friend pay $4k last year out of some absurd quest for quality. It is a standardized machine, there are only a couple of manufactures. The doctor isn’t involved with the actual re-shaping it is all done by the machine.

    • ziglet19 says:

      I used to work at an office where two doctors did lasik. One WAS better than the other and had a lower rate of complications. I don’t know exactly why, but I do know if I was to go for the surgery, I would definately pick the guy who had the better track record.

    • Steve says:

      I understand the importance of ensuring the safety and health of your eyes, but was wondering about this too. IIRC there are only a couple of different manufacturers of the machine that basically does the procedure. So I am wondering what you are getting for a dramatically higher price. If the price is suspiciously low then of course it should raise an alarm. But I don’t think it’s out of the question that a competent professional might choose a different pricing strategy to recoup the cost of the machine and earn money. If the procedure is straightforward and not too technique dependent, I think it is possible to go for a lower-priced approach and expect to get high revenue based on more customers. Just speculating-

  14. Jason says:

    I had Lasik over 7 years ago in Denver and the cost at that time was $2,000 for both eyes. Like others, I had vision between 20/400 and 20/800 and even now my vision is 20/20. For me, it was very much worth it to not wear glasses or, even worse, contacts because I was a lazy contact-wearer. I hated taking them out at night, cleaning them and then having to make it through part of the morning without being able to see. Even if I have to get glasses at some point, at least they will not be coke-bottle in width — and that is a win!

  15. Jamie says:

    I went for Lasik and was too afraid to go through with it. when I told the doctor my fear, he suggested considering an ablasion procedure (I’m not sure if that is the right word or spelling). Instead of cutting a flap and then lasering, this one does a sort of laser sandpaper reshaping to the curve of the eye. It takes longer to heal (about a week) and there is pain in the healing process (but drugs that get you through it). I was told it was a better procedure, with better results, less dry eye and less risk. I asked him why he didn’t suggest it or promote it in the first place and he said because everyone wants no pain and immediate, back-to-work-the-next-day results. It’s been 5 years and I’m still not back in contacts or glasses, even though I’m in my mid-40s and my eye doc keeps saying “this is the year you’re going to need bi-focals” before every exam. Still no reading glasses for me. Check into the alternative procedure.

  16. Melissa says:

    OMG, I am pulling the trigger next year after soooo many years. We’re in the middle of open enrollment at work and I’m taking full advantage of the current maximum amount allowed for Health Flexible Spending. I contacted my eye Dr. who I trust implicitly and am going with her preference even though he’s not in the network that would provide me with a discount. I understand bad vision and want to do my best to ensure the best care even paying at a premium. Yesterday I rubbed a lens right out my eye and didn’t have a spare (used them all w/out replacing them) and had to leave. I can’t wait for next year.

  17. Silas Puckett says:

    If it weren’t for my horse, I would probably have the procedure done.

  18. Lise says:

    I actually got PRK not Lasik about 3 years ago. My surgery gost me $5200 for both eyes, and another $400 for a year of follow up care. (With PRK you need approximately 9-10 months of follow up as healing takes a *lot* longer.)

    When I was talking to the surgeon about my activities, I told him I wanted to start kickboxing again. Apparently, firefighters and police all get PRK not Lasik as there is a very small chance of the cornea detaching with Lasik afterwards if you ever get hit in the eye.

    The procedure itself for PRK was about the same as Lasik (except instead of peeling back a cornea flap you get an acid wash that removes the cornea and it has to grow back)–the healing afterwards was not fun. I was in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks, severe halos for about 4 months, and I still have dry eyes (I need drops about twice a day so pretty minor).

    My cornea is the same thickness after PRK than it was before the surgery

    I’m 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other. I started off with ~20/160 and severe astigmatism. It was seriously not fun, but it was still worth it.

  19. Lara says:

    My husband had it when he was 26, after a lifetime of wearing contacts and glasses. He could not get a good prescription with the average plastic lenses and had to wear extremely heavy glass lenses. Contacts were a nightmare as they were extremely uncomfortable for him.

    His doctor considered him a good candidate as his eyes had not changed in over 5 years.

    The immediate results were obvious: He sat up from the chair after having the procedure and looked at me and sort of jumped and said “I can see you!” He left the building reading license plates out loud – just so pleased with the results.

    At his one-year checkup one of his eyes had significantly changed and required a touch-up surgery.

    Four years after the touch-up he was wearing glasses again.

    Was he happy to have 5 years free of glasses? Yes. And his glasses now are much, much lighter than pre-surgery, and he can wear much lighter lenses.

    But he is also extremely disappointed in his long-term results.

    In addition, his dad (my father-in-law) also had his eyes done, about a year after my husband did. At 50, dad’s eyes very stable. But again, about 5 years later he was wearing glasses.

    So based on the results in my immediate family, I do not consider this a good investment, neither for the monetary return nor for the lifestyle change. And I would never do it myself.

    And as far as your comment about traveling with liquids, I would guess your concern is about traveling with contact lens solution? You can buy small bottles and carry them on, or just go to any Target or drugstore at your destination and buy a cheap bottle. It’s not hard.

  20. graham says:

    I had the surgery about two years ago. Prior to the surgery, my vision was extremely poor. Basically, I was one of those people who couldn’t put their glasses down for fear of never finding them again!

    After I had the surgery, my vision was 20/20, but within several weeks it regressed to 20/80 (still a VAST improvement over before.) However, the guarantees around the surgery meant that the doctor had to perform it again, at no extra charge to me!

    I went in again, came out with 20/20, but within several weeks regressed to 20/40. The doctor was going to have to do the surgery again, but did an “Orb Scan” prior to it to check the thickness of my…corneas, I guess?
    Turns out, I couldn’t safely have a 3rd surgery, so I just have to live with 20/40. Frankly, I’m still absolutely THRILLED!

    I basically only need glasses for driving at night, though if my eyes get tired I also wear them to watch TV or go to the movies. And I’m delighted at how CHEAP my glasses are (no more of the ultra-super light high carbon lenses for me!) Nope, I can get by with your basic lenses from any strip-mall vision center.

    Overall, I have no regrets, and consider the money very well spent!

  21. richard says:

    I did it about 4 years ago. I couldn’t justify the operation from a financial perspective (i.e vs cost of contact lens/glasses), but man, from a lifestyle perspective, it was worth every penny. I would recommend getting a reputable doctor, even if it costs more. It is your eye sight we’re talking about, after all.

  22. Jeff says:

    I had PRK, which is an older laser procedure, done about 5 years ago by the Navy. Since the Navy did it, I didn’t pay anything, but even if I did have to shell out thousands of dollars, I think it would have been worth it.

    At the time, Navy medicine did not yet approve LASIK, where a flap is cut into the epithelium in order to expose the cornea to laser. In PRK, the doctor instead uses a sort of dremel tool to completely remove the epithelium. The laser procedure is identical, but instead of a few day to heal the corneal flap for LASIK, PRK requires weeks of painful healing to regrow the completely removed epithelium. That healing process was not fun! I was on pain meds for days, and my eyes felt like sandpaper. However, you won’t have to deal with that with LASIK.

    The Navy doc was very straightforward with me, laid out the historical percentages for improved vision and failed procedures, and made sure that I understood all the risks associated with the surgery. I even had to attend a mandatory information session before signing the release forms. Definitely find a doc who is a straight shooter. I think I would have been put off by used car sales tactics as well.

    Bottom line: Even though my procedure was more painful than what you’ll experience with LASIK, I think having my eyes lasered was the best thing I ever did.

  23. Emily says:

    I had the LASIK Intralase method about 3 years ago. (

    My left eye was not as bad as my right, so I opted to only have my right eye done. I’ve been quite pleased with the results.

    I’ve recently gotten reading glasses, only because I’m reading copious amounts in grad school and I want perfect vision for that (correcting my un-Lasiked left eye.)

    It’s great! Do it!

  24. Amanda says:

    Absolutely the best investment ever. I had my done at TLC and had to get the “platinum” package. If it had cost twice as much I would have paid it knowing what I know now. No more spending $600 a year on glasses and contacts. I had my surgery 2 years ago and had dryness for the first few months… I still have slight halos if I drive at night but the difference is that I’m used to them. I don’t notice them at all now. I love waking in the morning and seeing the time without fumbling for glasses. I love not MESSING with contacts in the morning. Most of all, I LOVE wearing sunglasses when I please and never worrying about getting rain on my glasses and having to wipe them off with a wet shirt!

  25. Jackson says:

    I’m tempted to get it but then I see quite a few Lasik doctors who still wear glasses so it makes me paranoid…

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