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LASIK is a form of laser eye surgery that helps improve a person’s vision, so they do not need glasses or contact lenses. The cost of the procedure may vary depending on various factors, such as the individual’s prescription and the surgeon’s expertise. Financial assistance may also be available to help reduce the cost of eye surgery.
This article describes what LASIK is and the factors that may affect its cost. It also explores some financial plans and the criteria that may help people determine whether they can get financial assistance for this surgery.
The article will also explore some alternative procedures and other options that can help correct vision.
LASIK, which stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses, is a surgical procedure that can treat the following vision conditions:
- Myopia (nearsightedness): This occurs when a person can see nearby objects clearly but cannot focus on distant objects.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness): People with this condition can see far objects clearly but cannot focus on nearby things.
- Astigmatism: People with astigmatism have blurry vision when they focus on near and distant objects.
During LASIK surgery, an ophthalmologist changes the shape of a person’s cornea with a laser, allowing more light to focus on the retina to improve their vision.
The American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO) states that LASIK eye surgery is available for people aged 18 years and over. However, some healthcare professionals recommend that individuals wait until they are 21 years of age before undergoing this procedure. This is because the vision of people at this age or older usually changes less than younger adults.
Ophthalmologists may recommend surgery to those who have:
- a stable eye prescription
- a refractive error that doctors can correct with LASIK
- thick and healthy corneas
However, eye doctors may not recommend LASIK eye surgery for individuals with health conditions. These include:
Some factors that may affect LASIK’s cost include:
- Eye procedure and diagnosis: One eye may need a different diagnosis, treatment, technology, and follow-up plan than the other eye. As a result, the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) states that the price of surgery may vary.
- Prescription: Some clinics may charge a higher price if a person has a higher or more complex prescription.
- Consultation fee: Consultations may add to the surgery’s cost. However, some clinics offer initial consultations at no additional fee.
- Follow-up visits: Clinics may include several follow-up visits in the cost of LASIK surgery. If a person needs further follow-ups, they may have to pay extra.
- Surgeon experience: The price an ophthalmologist charges may differ depending on their expertise and the length of time they have practiced.
- Personal costs: People who do not live close to an eye clinic or need to take time off for the procedure may need to consider these personal expenses.
According to the ARSC, LASIK eye surgery costs around $4,200, on average.
Health insurance providers consider LASIK an elective procedure, meaning people may have to pay out of pocket. However, Medicare and Medicaid may cover the costs of this procedure in certain circumstances.
Some individuals may also be able to pay for LASIK surgery with the help of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs).
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that can benefit people over 65 years of age and those with certain health conditions. Medicaid is a federal and state program that helps individuals with lower income pay for healthcare services.
These programs will not pay for elective LASIK surgery. However, people could receive help with costs if they meet the following criteria:
- they have a refractive eye error as a result of injury
- they have a refractive eye error as a result of previous surgery
- they have a severe eye refractive error
- they cannot wear glasses or contact lens
As Medicaid is a state-run program, eligibility and coverage may differ depending on where a person lives. People will also have to use an ophthalmologist that accepts Medicaid.
Health and flexible savings accounts
The ARSC states that employers may allow individuals to use HSAs and FSAs to set aside tax-free money for their procedure.
What is an HSA?
An HSA is a bank account that individuals enrolled in a high-deductible healthcare policy can use to set aside pretax funds through payroll deductions. HSA contributions help people pay for medical costs that they cannot cover with a health insurance plan.
The HSA offers different annual limits for individuals and families and does not come with a time limit. People can use their funds when they need them and use any unspent money the following year without losing their balance.
What is an FSA?
People with access to an FSA can set aside pretax money from their paycheck and set the amount they want to contribute to their account. The amount of contributions a person can save per year depends on the Internal Revenue Service.
The ARSC states that the FSA allows people to access the funds of their annual contribution even if they have not made all the required pretax deductions for that particular year.
However, people need to use their contributions within 12 months. If they do not, they may lose access to their balance after this period. Individuals may also wish to check whether any plans allow them to save their funds for the following year.
A person should discuss with their eye doctor whether LASIK eye surgery suits their needs. Several other procedures may be more beneficial. Alternatively, people may find glasses and contact lenses are suitable to correct refractory errors.
Glasses and contact lenses
Glasses and contact lenses can help correct a person’s vision. To receive them, people will receive a vision test and a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Individuals can purchase glasses and contact lenses in-store or online. Online retailers that stock glasses and contact lenses include:
- GlassesUSA: Sells prescription and nonprescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. Learn more about GlassesUSA.
- 1800Contacts: Stocks contact lenses suitable for various refractive errors. Learn more about 1800Contacts.
- Zenni Optical: Offers various frames, sunglasses, and prescription lenses. Learn more about Zenni Optical.
- ContactsDirect: Sells a range of contact lenses, contact lens solutions, and different lens types. Learn more about ContactsDirect.
- LensCrafters: Sells many name-brand contact lenses and has various replacement schemes. Learn more about LensCrafters.
- Bonlook: Sells prescription glasses and sunglasses and offers a virtual try-on service. Learn more about Bonlook.
Ophthalmologists may recommend alternate techniques for vision correction, including:
Intrastromal corneal ring segments (ICRS): ICRS are one type of refractive surgery that can treat mild myopia. The procedure does not require any stitches and involves no laser. The surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea and inserts two crescent-shaped plastic rings, which help stretch and flatten the central cornea. Limbal relaxing incisions: Surgeons create one or two incisions in the individual’s cornea to create a rounded shape. Refractive lens exchange: During this procedure, the doctor replaces a person’s natural lens with an intraocular lens implant to correct their refractive error.
However, note that any eye procedure carries the risks of complications. Therefore, people should discuss all the risks with their surgeon before undergoing any eye operation.
LASIK is a procedure that can treat astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. Individuals interested in laser eye surgery should discuss their medical history with their doctors, as healthcare professionals may not recommend the technique for those with certain health conditions.
The procedure’s cost may vary depending on the individual’s prescription, follow-up visits, or consultations, among other factors. People may consider checking whether they can apply for a savings plan, which may help reduce the cost of their LASIK eye surgery.
Monaco, G., et al. (2015). Long-term outcomes of limbal relaxing incisions during cataract surgery: aberrometric analysis.
Schallhorn, S. C., et al. (2017). Refractive lens exchange in younger and older presbyopes: comparison of complication rates, 3 months clinical and patient-reported outcomes.
Zadnik, K., et al. (2019). Intrastromal corneal ring segments for treating keratoconus [Abstract].