Is Lasik Surgery Worth It? My Story

Is Lasik Worth It?

Have you thought about Lasik surgery?

I had Lasik surgery a few years ago.

Just before I started this blog actually. I can’t believe I’ve never shared my experience with you guys. It’s a good example of spending a big chunk of money on a want (and need). I say want and need because for some people Lasik can be more of a need due to their line of work, or their severe vision problem.

Plus, there is not one speck of my being that wants the money back, or wants to fool with glasses or contacts again. I often have regrets about my “wants” in life. Not the case with Lasik.

The Lasik Research Process

I was near-sighted and wore glasses and contacts for 15 years. It took me two or three years to get convinced to have Lasik surgery. Every time I would find motivation to start researching the procedure, I would eventually stumble upon the costs and the risks.

They would both scare the hell out of me. I’d say, “I’m going to spend thousands of dollars just to have my eyes end up looking like Kathy Griffin’s? No thanks.”

My Lasik Surgery

Eventually I got around to having the surgery. After interviewing with four different doctors, I settled in on Wavefront-guided Lasik with a doctor at the LasikPlus center nearby. I definitely recommend shopping around to find a doctor you’re comfortable with.

The doctor at my location spent several years performing vision correction with the U.S. Military. I felt comfortable going with the guy who was trusted with working on pilots and soldiers.

I was not impressed with LasikPlus overall though. Each time I went in there was a different physician’s assistant to deal with. And when it was time to talk pricing, the assistant turned an about face right into a heavy sales pitch.

Most Lasik doctors have a similar pitch, but the LasikPlus pitch seemed a little more pushy and chain-like. It was unnecessary.

Despite those issues, I went forward with LasikPlus and had the surgery. Everything went fine with the procedure. I was in and out in 20 minutes. While you don’t feel the pain of the operation, you still feel the cutting…mainly because the blade’s other parts run across your eye. Not to scare you, but just to make you aware…they say you won’t feel anything but pressure, but I felt the actual blade cutting. Weird feeling and difficult to fight through. Of course, there’s no way you’re going to move when it’s happening. So just be ready for it and brace yourself.

Lasik Complications

I had a couple of small complications after I got home though. First, my eyes started becoming irritated (the local anesthesia wore off quickly), and I felt like I had big grains of sand in my eyes that I couldn’t wash out.

Actually, I remember it being intensely irritating. I finally got to sleep that night, but I remember praying hard with my wife that things would be okay.

I woke up the next morning to no irritation and near perfect vision. I looked over at the clock across the room and could see the time clearly, something I’d never been able to do. It was a surreal moment for me.

Besides a scary, but harmless subconjunctival hemorrhage in one of my eyes, there were no other difficulties with the surgery itself.

Lasik isn’t without it’s lasting side effects though. I wake up each morning with dry eyes. So dry that I can’t really open them without discomfort until I put in lubricating eye drops. But once I do this, I don’t need drops the rest of the day.

My eyes just need a little kick start in the morning. Studies show that this is the most common complaint with Lasik. While the cost of glasses and contacts may go away, you might want to budget for eye drops. I go with the Refresh Tears drops from Allergan which runs me about $7 every 3 months.

The Lasik Value Proposition

So how do you decide if Lasik is worth the cost and risk for you? The Lasik value proposition is simple:

  • Costs & Risks: spend anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 on a surgery; 5% chance of being unhappy with the results*; 1% chance of severe complications*.
  • Benefits: the convenience and reduced cost of not dealing with glasses or contacts until you need reading glasses.

*thank you, Wikipedia

When you personally get to a place where the benefits outweigh the costs and risk, you’ll decide to have the surgery. If you never get to that point, you shouldn’t have Lasik. Don’t have Lasik because I or someone else says it’s worth it. Do it because you are comfortable doing it.

Paying for Lasik

At the time of my surgery I didn’t have health insurance or an employer that would pay for Lasik. So I had to fork over around $2,500. Actually, I ended up taking LasikPlus up on a 0% interest rate for 18 months deal they were running.

Probably not the best move for most people, but it worked out for me at the time. One thing I should have done that I didn’t was fund a flexible spending account (FSA) at work, and use those tax free funds to pay for the surgery.

If you can’t get an employer or insurance to pay for it, then at least take advantage of your FSA. It takes some planning ahead, but it really helps with the costs.

If you’ve had Lasik, was it worth it for you?

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Last Edited: May 13, 2013 @ 1:07 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. PT!
    I just had Lasik a week ago, and love it! I can’t believe it took me so long to get it done.

    I have worn extended wear contacts for 12 years, so I could see the clock every morning, but when my Dr. said extended wear was not an option for my eyes anymore and I would have to start dealing with daily contacts and glasses, I opted for the surgery.

    Quoted a cost of $1,700 an eye; I planned on financing it with an interest free 12 month medical credit card. Day of surgery I found out that even though my employer health insurance didn’t cover it, just having the relationship with the insurance company warranted an $800 discount on the total procedure. Total cost was $2,700 + the $83.00 for the RX drops pre/post surgery. I still financed it for 12 months interest-free and am using my Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay towards the cost, but this way I don’t deplete my entire medial savings in one swoop.

    It has been a week and all is well. I am still using the RX drops this week, and haven’t experienced dry eyes in the morn and hope not to. My eyes feel better without contacts in them all day and night, I would say it is the best idea I’ve had in awhile. Everything is brighter, crisper–I’m looking around at everything! Totally worth it!

  2. myfinancialobjectives says:

    Two of my coworkers just had lasik, and another friend of mine did as well. ALL THREE loved the results and reccomend it to anyone who is curious.

    I’m think that when I get old and my vision get’s a bit worse, I will without a doubt get lasik. I use glasses for movies and night driving, and I can hardly stand that, I can’t imagine wearing them all the time!

    Glad things worked out!

  3. @Teresa – Congrats on the Lasik. I’m so happy it went well for you! Yeah, I think if you could wear those extended wear contacts then you don’t naturally have dryness issues, so you’ll probably be just fine in that dept. And I’m sure you read the research on the risk of handling contacts and eye infections. Never happened to me, but now with Lasik it’s a non issue. I never touch my eyes anymore. Remember to always wear your shades! Now you know why I’m always wearing mine.

    @mfo – yeah, movies and night driving was what I needed them for mostly as well. but also sports. and I would always bump my eye and get a contact lodged in the back of my eye. no more. sports are so much better without glasses/contacts.

  4. Anthony @ DYL says:

    I would like to do Lasik. But alas, it’s on my list of wants. I do not have any issues with contacts or glasses. I’m waiting until the day that I can no longer where my contacts, then I’ll do Lasik.

    Congrats on your procedure, by the way!

  5. I’ve worn glasses since age 10 but would love to be able to see without them. When I become debt-free this is one of the things I’m saving up for first.

    Thanks for sharing. The more people I “know” that have gone through the experience fine, the better I feel.

  6. Brave man, PT! I’m took chicken to get it done. Maybe when I’m really old, just in case the procedure blinds me, I can say I’ve had a lifetime of images and memories :)

  7. I don’t have the need for Lasik because my eyesight is still good, but if it got to the point I needed glasses or contacts, then I think I would just go ahead and do it. I know I wouldn’t like messing with contacts or glasses every day.

  8. I’m so afraid of having Lasik done, but I hear so many stories like this, that it was one of the best moves ever. I’m still young enough that my eyes could change if I had Lasik done now, so I will continue to wait a couple years but I’m pretty sure when the time comes, I will get it done. My eyes aren’t bad, but I didn’t need glasses till a couple years ago, and I just don’t feel like me with them on.

  9. I don’t have the “cajones” to deal with Lasik, but I’ve been using discount online glasses and contact lenses suppliers for several years now. The competition has made lenses so cheap that Lasik simply isn’t a big priority for me any more.

  10. Lasik , PRK, Lasik, Epi, are all dangerous and harm your eyes permanently. eye pain, glare, haze are all common after lasik. The eye surgeons just want your money. U always lose your night vision and close up vision. Higher probability of cataracts and glaucoma and detached retina. Extremely foolish thing to do is get lasik. They just want your money.

  11. I had LASIK in 2003. It was awesome. 2008 I realized I needed glasses again, not to mention I can not wear contacts either because the LASIK changed the shape of my eye so contacts don’t fit anymore. Was not worth the $2500 if you will go blind again after 5 years. Just my story…thought I would share

  12. sealancer17 says:

    I have worn glasses since I was 7 (43 years) and had the LASIK surgery 1 week ago. My distance vision is fantastic, however everything within 4 feet of me is blurry. I have bought three sets of over the counter readers in the past week to help with this but I’m struggling. I’m a cabinetmaker and I’m affraid I have made an awful mistake. It does not change too much throughout the day and I’m using the drops every hour. Will it get any better?