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Why Lasik Prices Vary

Posted on Oct 18, 2011

“Why are LASIK costs so different?”

This is a question that I often receive. A person will have seen an advertisement in the newspaper for someone offering laser vision correction for $1,000 or less per eye. As the saying goes “Buyer beware.”

The first thing that a person should be aware of is that the advertised price will usually have a small asterisk next to it. At the bottom of the advertisement there will be a statement that the price only applies for a prescription of less than a low number such as -1.50 . Often there also will be a restriction on the presence of astigmatism.

Typically, the prescription that is allowed for the advertised price is a number that most people interested in laser vision correction will not be able to qualify for. People whose vision is good enough to see ok, but not perfectly, without glasses simply do not want surgery.

When someone whose vision is poor enough to really benefit from Lasik comes in with the advertisement to a laser center, they will often be told that they do not qualify for the advertised price. However, the laser center will say that laser vision correction can be done for them for a higher price.

In addition, someone who is interested in laser vision correction should also be aware that there is a high degree of variability in the equipment that is used for laser vision correction. In general, the places that offer the lowest prices will not have the latest technology because the newer technology is more expensive.

Finally, laser vision correction centers that emphasize low price often will give patients very limited time or no time with the surgeon before and after the surgery in order to decrease costs. The advice that I would give someone who wants the best possible result from their laser vision correction is to find:

  • A cornea specialist that has specific training in laser vision correction.
  • A laser vision correction surgeon that uses the latest technology, such as wavefront guided custom treatments and all laser (blade-free) technique.
  • A laser vision correction surgeon that evaluates the patient before surgery, performs the surgery and sees the patient in the post-operative period.
Yichieh Shiuey, M.D.

Yichieh Shiuey, M.D.

Blog post contributed by Yichieh Shiuey, M.D., of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Dr. Shiuey is one of the few surgeons performing laser vision correction in the country that has received formal fellowship training in both refractive surgery (surgery to correct focusing errors in the eye) and the cornea (the clear covering of the eye on which all laser vision correction procedures are performed). Learn more about PAMF’s Advanced Vision Care Services.