If you’re one of the 197.6 million adults in the U.S. who need some sort of corrective lenses, you’re likely familiar with LASIK. Whether you’re tired of cleaning your contacts or you got annoyed with your foggy and dirty glasses, there are plenty of reasons to dream of perfect vision.
Of course, that perfect vision comes at a cost. LASIK has a reputation for being expensive, and it carries risks. Is LASIK worth it for the average patient?
The decision to choose any elective surgery is personal, but weighing the facts can help. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about LASIK.
Advantages of LASIK
LASIK, or Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, uses a special laser to change the shape of your cornea. Your provider will do this for a few reasons:
The most obvious benefit of LASIK is better vision.
In many cases, patients will reach 20/20 vision. If you have a higher prescription, you may not get perfect vision, but you’ll still notice significant improvements.
Over 98% of people who get LASIK will achieve between 20/20 and 20/40 vision. This is without the need for any corrective lenses.
The process for LASIK is fast. On average, you’ll be done within 15-20 minutes per eye.
You also won’t have to wait long for your enhanced vision. Most patients start to see small improvements within a few hours of their surgery
Even better, the downtime is minimal as well. Though you’ll need to take it easy right after your surgery, you can resume your normal activities within two or three days.
Once your eye surgery is complete, you won’t have to reach for your glasses or contacts each day. This means you won’t have to stock up on contact lenses, clean your glasses, worry about lens scratches, or splurge on prescription sunglasses.
LASIK is a long-lasting procedure. Afterward, most people will enjoy better vision for a decade or longer.
In some cases, patients find that their vision begins to blur again, often due to age-related vision changes. Only 35% of patients need retreatment after ten years.
Disadvantages of LASIK
Though there are plenty of benefits to LASIK, patients should also be realistic about the cost and potential drawbacks:
Most eye insurance providers don’t cover the cost of LASIK, as they consider it an elective cosmetic procedure. As a result, many patients have to pay out of pocket.
The cost of LASIK per eye ranges from $2,000 to $3,000. Most reputable providers will offer financing plans for this reason. With these options, patients can spread out their payments over several months instead of putting a large payment, all at once, toward their dream of better vision.
Risks and Side Effects
For the vast majority of patients, LASIK surgery is completely safe. Patient satisfaction after the fact is high, and complications are rare.
If patients experience any side effects at all, they are often very minor. Most side effects disappear within a few days or weeks of the procedure.
However, it’s still important to be aware of the possible risks.
The most common minor side effects include dry eyes and decreased tear production. Some patients may notice double vision or light sensitivity for a few days after their procedure.
If your provider over-corrects or under-corrects your vision, you may notice more blurriness than expected. Follow-up procedures, often called LASIK enhancements, can help clear your vision.
In some cases, LASIK can cause astigmatism. This occurs with uneven tissue removal. Further procedures can help correct this issue.
In much rarer cases, LASIK can cause serious eye problems. Too much corneal thinning, called corneal ectasia, can cause blurred vision and cornea bulging. Patients with this condition need special procedures or implants to restore their vision.
A variety of serious eye issues can happen in and around the LASIK flap, which your provider will create on the front of your eye to perform the surgery. If the flap does not heal, becomes inflamed, or gets wrinkled or dislocated, you may need a surgeon to address the problem right away.
Last, one of the rarest complications due to LASIK is significant vision loss.
Is LASIK Worth It?
For most patients, LASIK is a no-brainer. For others, the high up-front price tag and minimal risks are enough to make them think twice. LASIK is not right for everyone, and it’s always a good idea to weigh your options with an experienced eye care expert.
As you weigh your options, there are a few additional factors that might help you decide:
The results of LASIK can last for over a decade, with some patients experiencing improved vision for a lifetime. Younger patients will enjoy their improved vision for longer, and it can also help them avoid the cost of corrective lenses for years to come. This doesn’t prevent age-related vision changes as you grow older, however.
Check with your insurance provider to see if they offer a discount for LASIK. If your policy will pay for part of the procedure, you may find LASIK more tempting.
Your Corrective Lenses
If you’re tired of constantly spending money on contact lenses all the time or you prefer designer frames for your glasses, vision correction can help you cut those costs. You also won’t need to pay for additional reading glasses, prescription sunglasses, lost contacts, and scratched lenses!
On the other hand, if you’ve worn the same pair of glasses for years and take great care of them, you may not feel like corrective surgery would be worth it.
Ask Us About LASIK Today
Is LASIK worth it? For most patients, the answer is a clear “Yes!” However, everyone is different, and you’ll want to consider your own vision and situation before you take the plunge.
If you’re not sure whether LASIK is right for you, we’d love to help. Our expert staff can help you figure out if you’re a good candidate, walk you through what to expect, and answer your questions. Contact us today to get more information or to make an appointment.