Posted on September 23, 2015

Interpreting The Cost of LASIK

Being someone who is familiar with the LASIK eye surgery business, I quite honestly find it perplexing how the bait and switch marketing tactics of large chains seem to fool the public. In today’s LASIK eye surgery world, you would think that patients could understand that $250 LASIK is a myth. I guess everyone is intrigued by a low price, but do they really understand what is happening?

Interpreting the Cost of LASIK

When you start out the process with some simple searches on Google you really begin to understand how people can be confused. Depending on the market area, you will see $250 LASIK and a lot of $1000 off LASIK promotions. Many credible eye care practices will not undertake this misleading marketing tactic and potential clients skip over them because their offer isn’t as enticing. It is too bad that patients have to miss out on the opportunity to work with the best surgeons in their area because of this style of marketing.

How is it that one practice can charge $250 per eye, and another charges $3500 per eye? Well, we all know that nobody gets LASIK for $250 eye. The pillar card fees to use the excimer laser amounts to more than $300 alone! From what the research shows, the criteria someone will need to meet to get this mythical $250 LASIK is literally less than 1% of the population and yet, people still fall for this. They get upsold because their vision does not meet the required minimum prescription. This kind of qualifies as fake advertising to me. Is the intention of this type of marketing good for Ophthalmology? According to the vision industry Market Scope, LLC report the average actual cost of LASIK is $2259 per eye—keep in mind, this is per eye.

In recent times, there are groups emerging that are trying to bring to light this fraudulent behavior or actually really provide some LASIK benefits. One such group is an insurance program provider based out of Chicago, Illinois, known as QualSight. This company works with insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana to provide better solutions to this LASIK cost issue. Instead of baiting a consumer with a low price, they work with insurance providers to help reduce the cost of LASIK eye surgery.

LASIK eye surgery is a really great procedure that has helped millions of patients, but it is a procedure that requires appropriate patient selection. LASIK actually stands for Laser in-situ keratomileusis—the most commonly performed type of laser eye surgery. This procedure is generally safe, effective, and has very few side effects. LASIK is a great option for many individuals considering laser vision correction for a variety of very personal and professional reasons. LASIK may not promise perfect vision, however; it is a highly successful procedure that can, at the very least, reduce a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The lifestyle benefits can be tremendous for active and social people. These benefits can enable people to more freely pursue their hobbies, sports activities or career options.


There are a variety of expenses that go into the cost of LASIK:

  1. The pillar card fee – When the excimer lasers were first created and they started selling them to Ophthalmologists in the U.S., the manufacturing companies created a pillar point schematic. They introduced cards that need to be inserted into the machine prior to use. The claim here is that these additional fees helped with research and development. In many cases the pillar fees are literally more than $300 per case. Often times the click fees range between $150 and $250 per eye according to the Refractive Surgery Alliance.
  2. Emerging LASIK Technology –The technology used and if they use femtosecond technology, wavefront technology and a good excimer laser. There are major differences between the cheapo excimer laser and the more modern expensive lasers.
  3. The expertise and experience of the surgeon – This topic can make a big difference in your LASIK outcome. Patient selection with quality surgeons seems to be a very important thing. The experience and skillset of your LASIK eye surgeon should be another very critical factor in your decision. If your LASIK surgeon has more experience and time under their belt the likeliness of a better outcome is higher.
  4. Post-Operative Exam Costs – Many times, the LASIK surgery practice will include several post-operative exams into the actual LASIK price. It is highly suggested that you discuss this point, as well as future enhancements and how this affects the overall LASIK price.


When you have a LASIK pre-operative evaluation, you will not only be tested to determine your LASIK candidacy, but you will also have the time to ask questions. Here are a few things that you might ask about?

5 Questions to ask about LASIK cost:

  1. What are the factors that determine the cost of LASIK?
  2. What technology do you have that contributes to the cost, and does it make it safer?
  3. Why should I choose your quality practice over another LASIK discount chain?
  4. Do you offer other vision correction alternatives, or just LASIK?
  5. What are the complications that can happen after undergoing a LASIK procedure?


(Source *Archives of Ophthalmology, WebMD – 2006)

Depending on how compliant a patient is with their recommended contact lens regimen – and their number of annual office visits and new fitting appointments – the average contact lens wearer invests between $75 and $100 per month on their eyes.

When projected out over the normal length of time the average person wears his or her contacts – 10-20 years – the total cost for contact lens wear can range between $9,000 and $15,000. What seems to most patients as a modest and acceptable annual investment in their contact lenses can quickly grow into a substantial expense.


If you are thinking about LASIK or laser vision correction, it is important to shop around and do your homework. Ask the appropriate questions. Make sure to keep an eye out for cheap LASIK advertisements that sound too good to be true. Some things in life have to to be done right and surgery on your eyes is one of them. For questions about LASIK insurance and benefits that may be provided by your insurance company, contact QualSight. Don’t forget to make sure to ask your doctor about flex spending and affordable financing options.