Cost of Lasik Eye Surgery | Is Lasik an Investment?

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Last year I scheduled an appointment for a Lasik eye surgery consultation.  I had one of those quotes that said starting at $499 an eye (or something similar).  Unfortunately, you have to go through an hour plus appointment (plus time in the waiting room so they can give you the actual cost of Lasik eye surgery.)  Even though I have a very light prescription and no astigmatism, my quote came in around $1,600.  No thank you.  I was out the door.

Last week I got an email from my friends at Lasik MD asking me “How much are YOU wasting on contact lenses and glasses?”

I clicked on the tab (for curiosity sake) and was taken to a page that had a calculator. 

Here’s how their very inaccurate math works:

How much do you spend on glasses and exams per year?  $150 (that’s the estimate I entered)

How old are you? 77 years old.

Subtract the $980.00 (the cost of Lasik)

And over my lifetime, I am wasting $5,770.00 by not getting Lasik.  Why was I so worried about the cost of Lasik eye surgery – it was actually an investment, NOT.

Does the Cost of Lasik Eye Surgery Qualify it as an Investment?

Lasik Math flaw #1: Even Lasik patients need eye exams.

I’m not sure why they take out the cost of eye exams in their little rigged math equation.  Even if you have Lasik, you should still visit the optometrist on an annual basis.  Optometrists do a lot more than ask you to read letters on a chart.  They also test for Glaucoma and even see if there are any signs of deteriorating eye conditions like macular degeneration.  Besides, even after you have eye surgery, your vision can deteriorate. 

Lasik Math flaw #2: How many patients can get the quoted cost of Lasik eye surgery – $490 per eye (or whatever they offer)? 

I don’t have any stats on this, but perhaps you could help.  Did you get the quoted price?  As I previously mentioned, I was shocked that my surgery wasn’t the ‘base’ price.  I’ve always been able to get the cheapest eye specials and I have a very basic prescription. 

Lasik Math flaw #3: Most patients start to wear reading glasses at 40.

One of the biggest reasons why I didn’t have Lasik (aside from the fear that I might be blind for life :)) was that they said I’d probably be wearing reading glasses at age 40.  Since that is what they say to patients, why don’t they start to factor in the cost of reading glasses every year at age 40?  But, if you can buy $8 glasses then I guess that changes everything.

Lasik Math flaw #4: Forgets the strength of investing and compound interest.

Imagine instead of spending the $980 (supposed cost of Lasik) it to get my eyes fixed, I invest it in something that gives an 8% average annual rate of return.  When I turn 77, that $980 would be worth $31,282.04.  Still, they tell me I’m losing out on $5,770 by not getting my eyes fixed.  Actually, getting my eyes fixed would cost me $25,000 in lost investment value.

Lasik Math flaw #5: The cost of Lasik eye surgery is not all-inclusive.

When you finish with your Lasik surgery, there are still a few required purchases that are not included in their price.  I don’t remember exactly what those charges were, but I know one was a very expensive eye drop container.  If you’re going to do a math analysis, please include all the math.

Is Lasik an Investment?

If you want to call it an investment in your standard of living, I’ll go with it.  But, there is no way that Lasik should be considered a financial investment.  Unless you spend an exorbitant amount of money on glasses, there is no way the math ads up. 

My Lasik friends tried to tell me I’ll waste (on average) $25,000 over a lifetime if I don’t get Lasik (“Based on the total annual eye care expenses of a 20-year-old [including a $55 annual eye exam, a mean annual cost of $100 on frames, lenses and/or prescription sunglasses, and $280/year on contacts and solution] with the average North American lifespan of 77 years. For illustrative purposes only”).

Since a lot of people try to justify things like Lasik as a financial decision, I’d encourage you to put it under your luxury, or entertainment category in your budget – not to withhold a Roth IRA contribution so you can make this fantastic “investment”.


  1. says

    I still haven’t been sold on Lasik, mainly because I’ve read stories about people who have lost their nighttime vision or encountered other problems. I know the risk is low, but my vision is not bad and I don’t mind wearing contacts. $100 or so a year which is covered by insurance that I pay for whether I use it or not is not that bad of a cost, anyways.

  2. says

    Hilarious! That’s cute that they “tried” to sell you on it, probably sold a lot of other people with the email…

    My entire dad’s side of my family {who wore glasses} got Lasik done a few years ago. They’re all doing fine with it. I know one person who after 3 years with the surgery, now has to wear glasses anyway – but not much of a prescription. I agree, if someone wants it looking at it as an investment is not the way to go!

  3. says

    It’s just another product, and just another marketing ploy. Plenty of bad/partial correction horror stories out there. Not worth the risk.

  4. says

    Lasik has a great future I think but it’s just not worth it right now. The chances of it failing are still high enough to scare me away and it’s damn expensive…. Unless you travel for it but then you are very far away from the doctor if anything screws up down the road.

    As you say, a lifestyle choice but it is a risky one. Ask me again in 10 years and I may change my mind.

  5. says

    In the end the doctor’s office is a business; they are going to try to sell you on thier products and services like any other business. You just have to make the choice that is right for your bank account and your lifestyle.

  6. Gholmes says

    You burst my bubble. :) Keep seeing my HSA grow and thinking how sweet it would be not to buy glasses anymore and invest in surgery. Guess now I cant use the investment debate with the wife.

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