Is LASIK Eye Surgery Worth It?

lasikWhen I was eleven years old, I found out that I needed glasses.  I was so upset that I cried right there at the doctor’s office.  The thought of coke bottle glasses devastated me, and the movie Revenge of the Nerds kept playing in my mind.  

 

It was the early 90s, and geek chic had not come en vogue.  On top of that, all the nerdy kids in my school wore glasses.  I even remember one of the nerdy girls that tried to be stylish trying to rock the Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.  If you don’t remember these glasses, google it!

 

lasikI ended up getting a pair of glasses that were somewhat tolerable, but I still hated them.  I only used them when I absolutely had to.  This meant that I sat towards the front of the class and would stealthily put them on when I couldn’t read the board.  I don’t know who I was trying to fool, but that’s what I did for far too long.

 

At the time, I was big-time into baseball and basketball and cringed at the thought of wearing sport rec specs.  You know, those wrap around plastic glasses that were virtually unbreakable.  My parents tried to convince me that they were cool because Horace Grant of the Chicago Bulls was wearing them, but I wasn’t feeling it.  So I wore regular glasses playing baseball and basketball.  I’m not sure this was any cooler, but it made me happier.  As a kid running around, I was lucky the glasses only fell off once playing basketball and didn’t break into a million pieces.

 

Contacts

By the time I reached 7th grade, my parents told me that I was responsible enough to wear contacts.  This was a great moment for me.  I still remember the first day of wearing contacts.  In my head, I was thinking, wow I can actually see everything, and I don’t look like a loser.  I wore contacts all throughout high school and college and really didn’t have any issues.  I still dreaded the thought of wearing glasses if ever my contacts did bother me.

 

LASIK

lasikIn the early 2000s, I started to hear more about LASIK surgery to correct vision problems.  I was really excited about the possibility but still apprehensive about a blade touching my eye.  I remember telling myself if someone else did it first, I might feel more comfortable.  

 

At the time, I had two roommates that both shrugged their shoulders at the potential downside to LASIK and took the plunge to get it done.

 

Each of them had to wear glasses at the time for thirty days before the procedure, which they hated.  It was actually kinda weird to see them wearing glasses because they both had the oversized glasses from the 90s that had never been updated since they were only minimally used.  They figured, why spend money on new glasses when they would only be used for thirty days.  

 

So, while they were a bit self-conscious over that thirty day period, after the procedure, both of them raved about it.  They indicated that it was a super easy process, starting with the doctor giving them medicine to relax before the procedure and only lasting around 30 seconds per eye.

 

lasikThey had a friend drive them to and from the appointment and slept the procedure off the remainder of the day.  The next day, they woke up and could see perfectly.  The only negative aspect they shared with me involved showering in the days and weeks following.  Since their eyes were still healing, the water from the shower head felt like tiny needles pricking their eyes.  Ouch.  In order to combat this, they each used swimming goggles to wear while showering.  This was a quick solution to a fairly minor problem.

 

LASIK and Me

After that, I was determined to get LASIK, but then life got in the way.  At one point, I had my heart set on it, but then over time I started to have apprehension once again.  I started thinking about blindness as a real possibility of the procedure.  I wanted to be able to see my future wife and my future children.  Excuses flooded my mind as I reasoned with myself that contacts weren’t that bad.  I really didn’t have any problems wearing them.  I would periodically research to see if it the technology had improved to make it even safer.

 

Sometimes I would tell myself that after I paid off all my debt, that I would treat myself to LASIK.  Quick side note to Parks and Rec fans: October 13th is “Treat Yo Self” Day.  Did you Treat Yo Self this year?  

 

Well, I have paid off all my debt, but I still haven’t taken the plunge to get LASIK.  My wife looked into it for herself shortly before we got married, but a minor eye infection at the time blocked her from getting the procedure in that moment.  She hasn’t expressed any interest to get it done since. 

 

Money, Money, Money

lasikFrom a financial standpoint, I spend about $80 each year on contacts, plus another $30 on contact solution.  In turn, LASIK costs roughly $5,000 at local providers to get both eyes corrected.  Therefore, the breakeven point would be roughly 50 years, and that’s not even including the Net Present Value of the cost of LASIK.  So for me, from a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense to do it.  I could invest that money into the stock market and would be much further ahead compared to getting LASIK.  But when do we ever make financial decisions based solely on finances?

 

I’d like to hear from you all.  Have you gotten LASIK?  Did you take into account the financial impact?  Share your stories below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.

46 Comments

  1. First a word of warning, the older you are the less likely lasik will allow you to go glasses free, so if you want it get it in your early 30s at latest. I’ve considered lasik a few times in my life, but always walked away due to complication risks. No I’m not worried about going blind as that’s inconsequential in terms of risk. It is bluriness/night blindness that stopped me. Halos around lights, which my wife already has an issue with without lasik, would make my families life too difficult.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…How to tell the difference between lifestyle inflation and enjoying life?My Profile

    • I didn’t realize there was an age limit when it came to LASIK. Thanks for sharing. I have definitely heard the downside when it comes to halos which is part of the reason I too have held off.

      Thanks again for sharing!!!

  2. We just did a lot of research about Lasik vs contacts vs glasses. I’m glad you shared your perspective on it because it really does vary person to person. Our research said the long-term cost of Lasik beats the long-term cost of contacts, but in your situation it does not. It really comes down to what is the best decision for you and your health.

  3. I did it when I was in my early 20s – 15 years later I can say it was totally worth the price!! I wasn’t able to wear contacts without my eyes being completely blood shot so it made sense with the cost of glasses and eye appointments plus a bit of vanity sprinkled in. I had been wearing glasses since 4th grade! I loved what lasik did for me, but, it’s a personal choice when it comes to the financial aspect.
    As Full Time Finance above said, it depends on your age. If you are older than 35, it may not be worth the cost. I am now 38 and my eyes tire easily. This is normal with age (and a lot of screen time), but it sucks none the less! My vision is still great and I haven’t has occasion to go to the ophthalmologist since a few years ago when something from a windy gust got stuck in my eye…literally. Still, the cost to do it now wouldn’t be worth it knowing that in the next few years I will probably need readers anyway.

    • I’m definitely in your camp with wondering about the ROI. I’m still hoping that the technology will improve to where one day it makes sense. But will probably wait until then.

  4. Mrs CK recently had the epi-LASIK procedure done. It costs more, and takes a bit longer to heal, but the risks with having the flap come undone are not there. She now has better than 20/20 vision. For us health trumps wealth, and the improvement in our lifestyle was totally worth it.

    As far as most of the effects such as seeing halos, it depends on your prescription. A friend at work got it done and his prescription was just outside of what they can correct. They let him know it wouldn’t be perfect, and he would see halos from lights at night. They gave him some glasses that would correct the same amount. He went with it anyway and was still thrilled with the results compared to wearing glasses.

    For us the risk was small because the procedure has been around for years, we did the research, and we paid a bit more to go to one of the best docs in our area.
    Mr Crazy Kicks recently posted…Ultra Efficient Fridge ProjectMy Profile

  5. I did it and I would do it again. Yes you get nervous and yes it costs a lot, but seeing in HD 24 hours a day is priceless. Everyday new eye technology makes the procedure less risky and cheaper. I used my FSA account to make it cheaper with no taxes being charged on that money. I paid around 4K. The only downside was the 1st year you get dry eye a lot and you see a bit blurry. IT is solved with drops.
    EL recently posted…Boring Investing is the Way to GoMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. Being able to see clearly 24 hours a day is very appealing. And with technology getting better by the day it is definitely something I want to do in the future. Thanks for sharing!!!

  6. I’m strongly against LASIK for at least the next three years. There’s a company in Canada that’s working on a painless 7 minute procedure that could give us better than 20/20 vision and it doesn’t involve lasering out parts of our eyes. (they’re in trial period as of right now, so it’ll take about 3-5 years before it’s available, if they are successful at it). Glasses are uncomfortable but I don’t think I’d be comfortable with someone performing LASIK on me!
    Finance Solver recently posted…I Want to Be a Millionaire: Blueprint GuideMy Profile

  7. I’ve had LASIK done!

    I was prescribed glasses when I was 5 and wore them till I was 17. I then got contacts, but hard contacts. Ugh. Worst things ever. I was 19 before I finally got my hands on soft lenses, and those were a godsend.

    I had my LASIK surgery done when I was 28. I had it done in India, so if I tell you how much it cost that will only serve to make you very, very sad.

    I’ve never had a problem with halos, or experienced any side effect really. I’ve always been very happy with my decision to have the surgery.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…Mega Savings from the Mega Backdoor RothMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with LASIK. I can only imagine that you got an outstanding deal in India.

      Something I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t tried is medical tourism. I’ve heard you can get excellent care at a fraction of the price. Definitely something to look into in the future.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. It’s totally worth it Mustard Seed! I had PRK about a year ago, which is a laser correction surgery just like LASIK, but I had slightly too thin of corneas to actually have LASIK so my only choice was PRK. Heal time is slower, but long-term it is actually a better procedure. There are pros / cons to each.

    It’s expensive, no doubt. I tried justifying it to myself for years, similar to you, but contacts, glasses etc. could never alone justify it for me on a financial perspective. But the reality is that it is a lifestyle choice. And the sooner you get your head wrapped around that the better, because you’ll live with the benefit of having Lasik all the longer.

    I’m glad I made the plunge. I waited until I heard a special price offered from the preferred eye doctor in my area and got it for just over $4K with 2-year 0% financing. I couldn’t beat the price so I scheduled an appointment and finally made it happen.
    The Green Swan recently posted…Building Up CourageMy Profile

    • You are absolutely right. It is definitely a lifestyle choice and one that I really want to make. For some reason lasers on my eyes scare me but I haven’t heard of anyone that regrets the decision. Thanks for sharing your experience!!!

  9. Wow, I had no idea Lasik was so expensive! I never considered it because the idea of someone operating on my eyes like that makes me queasy. I typically wear glasses during the week (mostly driving) and contacts on the weekend and it works well for me.
    Andrew recently posted…Passive vs. Active InvestingMy Profile

    • I’m with you on being a little queasy with someone operating on my eye when I can still use contacts. With that said if there was a full proof way of getting rid of glasses and contacts I’d definitely do it.

    • I have heard that as well. That most doctors want you to wait until your vision has stabilized. You’ll definitely have to keep in touch when you are going through the process.

  10. I have worn glasses from age 3 to 26, then I had the LASIK procedure performed on both eyes. I was near sighted, had a very stable prescription, and had cash on hand, which made me a great candidate. Additionally, I wore glasses and I could not wear contacts comfortably. I tried wearing contacts for 1 month and just couldn’t do it. Literally, I could not reliable get them on my eyeballs. What made my decision was being able to see while skiing. I love skiing and wearing goggles over glasses leads to fogged up lens and not seeing – rather frustrating.

    I paid in full and got a small discount (~10%). The procedure went well. My vision improved the next day and for the next month. It was cool to see the improvement. My eyes were dry and I used drops multiple times a day for several months. I characterize this purchase as a want, specifically a skiing cost (no different than well fitting ski boots).

    I am so glad I had the procedure done. It makes playing sports (e.g. skiing, water sports, etc.) a lot simpler. I still enjoy wearing sunglasses and taking them off when I go inside, which is so much easier than having separate prescription glasses and sunglasses.

    I was told that LASIK would allow me to be glasses free for about 20 years. It is very common for individuals to need reading glasses as they age and this procedure does not prevent that.

    About ten years later, I am still happy with my purchase. Best of luck with your decision.

    • Thanks for sharing!!! Its definitely a bummer when I am out on the water having to slightly worry about my contacts. So I can definitely see why you did it. Sounds like you made a great decision. Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. I’m fortunate to have perfect vision so far *knock on wood*

    The thought of someone carving up my eyes is terrifying. But in the end it comes down to the tipping point – when does the inconvenience of your current solution overcome the risks or your mental reservations.

    If you want it, don’t try to rationalize it, just find the best provider you can reasonably afford and go for it.
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted…Lending Club P2P Portfolio Update: Q3 2016My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by!!! You are incredibly lucky and wish I had 20/20 vision 🙂 I grew up playing baseball and was constantly having to stay on top of my prescription to ensure that I could see the baseball 🙂

  12. More than the cost, I’m worried about the pain of the procedure. Your story doesn’t make it sound too bad. Sounds like an annual visit to the eye doctor.

    • From everything that I’ve heard it’s really not that bad and I really haven’t heard of anyone complaining too much outside what I shared. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  13. It’s hard to swallow the cost, but getting LASIK has been well worth it for me.

    I got the procedure done almost three years ago at the age of 41. Obviously I would have liked to have done it sooner, but it’s a great feeling to wake up in the morning and actually be able to see the clock! My eyesight was really bad – I think my contacts were a -6.00 prescription.

    What pushed me over the edge was after the swim portion of my first triathlon, I got out of the lake and quickly realized that I had lost one of my contacts. Not too fun biking for 26 miles and running for 6 miles half blind. In regards to cost, I used my FSA account, so a good portion of the ~$4k procedure was paid for with before tax dollars.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…How to Rock Open EnrollmentMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. Everyone that I’ve heard from has loved LASIK/PRK. It seems as a lifestyle choice that it is something that everyone values. Thanks for sharing your perspective!!!

  14. I have a friend who considers his Lasik money well spent. I have not done it yet. The finances didn’t seem to fall into line. My prescription is pretty high, so the FDA approval is targeted for mid range, and each time I asked the newest wasn’t approved for my level. There is also a chance there isn’t enough lense to alter. There is a pre-check I should do and find out once and for all. The higher prescription means contacts and glasses are more expensive, which increases the ROI.
    Check with your doctor if there added eye health benefits to Lasik vs contacts etc, or that pre-screen might give you more information. Best of luck!

  15. I’m about the same age as you. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, glasses were definitely not cool like they are today. My eyes weren’t terrible and I could get by, so I didn’t tell my parents my eyes were bad because I didn’t want to wear glasses. I know I failed the eye test at school every year but for some reason they never said anything. It wasn’t until my 7th grade math teacher said something that my parents finally found out. Man I was relieved that I could get contacts at that point and never had to wear glasses!

    My wife and I both had LASIK done 7-8 years ago. Best money we ever spent! Everyone I know who has had LASIK done has said the exact same thing. If you only look at it from a dollars and cents perspective, it probably won’t work out as you mention in your post. For me, the convenience and not having to deal with the hassle of contacts everyday was well worth it. The procedure really is amazing. The moment they fold the flap back over your eye, you can see perfectly (minus all the drops in your eyes at that time).
    Go Finance Yourself! recently posted…Be Different: Buck the Traditional Norms to Retire EarlyMy Profile

    • You know the more I hear from folks the more it sounds like it’s a lifestyle decision instead of a financial. Everyone that has had it raves about it. I may have to look into it this winter and take the plunge. Thanks for sharing!!!

  16. I was like you – hating the glasses (although I didn’t need them until around 7th grade). Then near the end of high school, I finally got contacts. Although they were better than glasses, they were still a pain in the butt.

    Finally, after losing a contact on the ground while camping one night, I decided enough was enough. I got LASIK done in 2003. With the exceptions of getting married and the birth of my daughter, best thing ever!

    Even being able to roll over and easily read the clock in the middle of the night makes it all worth it to me.

    Good luck on your decision!

    — Jim
    Jim @ Route To Retire recently posted…Bringing the Fun Back to the WorkplaceMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Jim. Seems like everyone I meet thinks it’s an awesome decision and one that they would make again. Thanks for your perspective.

  17. I’ve been considering this a lot lately. For me, the ROI is better because my contacts would cost about $640 a year, so the break even point is roughly 8 years. That said, I don’t wear contacts often because I work long hours in front of a computer, so I buy about 3 months’ worth at a time ($160) and wear glasses.

    It’d be nice if the price of LASIK would drop a bit faster! Then the decision would be so easy 🙂

    • That’s the one thing that I haven’t seen recently. I feel like LASIK prices have stayed pretty consistent for years. While they haven’t really gone up with inflation I haven’t really seen them drop as the technology got better. Hopefully one day. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  18. I have had my lasik like 10 years and paid ~5,000 at the time. At the time there weren’t caps on flexible spending plans so we maxed it out did the surgery 1st week of January and my net was really about $3750 and I would pay it again in a heartbeat even if it was the full $5000.

    I was “can’t see the alarm clock from the other side of the bed” type of nearsightedness. Going to the pool, beach, sports is all better. I am now 45, still don’t need reading glasses, and work on computers all day long
    I suspect someday I will need reading glasses for reading and driving but the quality of life is something that is difficult to quantify in $$$.

    My son is 20 and I will pay for him to get it in a few years when he stops growing. 100% recommend it to anyone and it may be cheaper than it was a few years ago…it should be it took all of about 10 minutes !

    • Thanks for sharing Chris!!! Everyone that has commented has talked about how wonderful LASIK has been for them. It’s definitely something that I should revist. Thanks again for stopping by!!!

    • Wow they had to go back and get it fixed and/or it didn’t work. That’s crazy!!! That would absolutely be demoralizing if I had to get it again. Thanks for sharing!!!

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