LASIK vs Lenses: Factoring Cost and Value
Glasses vs. Contacts vs. LASIK
At first glance, contact lenses or glasses seem like less expensive options compared to the price tag of LASIK corrective surgery.
But when you really start to break down the long-term costs associated with glasses and contacts the math is pretty revealing.
Let’s take a look at all the costs right now...
Contact Lenses are more expensive than you think
The yearly cost of contacts and related expenses can vary widely depending on your prescription, the type of lens your doctor recommends, and your insurance plan if you have vision coverage.
Here are some ballpark figures:
- A comprehensive eye exam to determine your prescription could cost $10 (the standard co-pay with insurance) to around $180 (without insurance).
- Lens fittings are required for any new prescriptions (your eyes may change over time) and can carry additional costs depending on where you get them.
- Cleaning solution averages $10 per bottle for a month’s supply. That’s another $120 per year. Most people begin wearing contacts as teenagers, so by the time you’re in your mid-twenties, you’ve spent $1200 on solution alone.
Taking the very lowest end of costs and assuming you have insurance coverage, you’re looking at about $300 per year, out-of-pocket. Extended out over a 10 year period, you’re spending about $3000 — remember, that’s the LOW end!
But what about glasses? Are they a cheaper alternative? It depends...
Glasses can be expensive, too
The average cost of an eye exam, frames, lenses, and recommended additions like anti-glare coating and impact-resistant lenses can range from $180 to $275. That’s with vision insurance and depends on your plan’s coverage.
Without insurance, those averages increase to $750 to $800!
Even if you have excellent vision insurance coverage, the lowest yearly average you can expect to pay is $180 (A lower out-of-pocket cost typically comes with a higher insurance premium payment).
Consider, also, the average glasses wearer buys a new pair of frames every two years and has an eye exam done every year to monitor eye health and you’re looking at about $100 per year (assuming the average $10 exam co-pay through your insurance).
Based on these numbers, wearing glasses costs you a little less than $500 per year. Again, compute those numbers over a decade and you’re looking at $4000 to $5000.
Keep in mind, too, that most people switch between glasses and contacts.
Isolating one cost versus another isn’t exactly fair. In most likelihood, you should combine the costs of both to be more accurate — $7000 to $8000 over the next ten years.
Let’s compare those costs to LASIK...
LASIK is one-time investment with a better return
The average cost of LASIK, nationally, is $4,200 for both eyes.
When compared to the ongoing, lifetime expense involved with contact lenses or glasses, it’s relatively inexpensive, and can actually pay for itself in just a few years. Compared to the numbers we worked out for glasses and contacts, you’re looking at a purely monetary return in about 5 years.
It’s true that LASIK typically costs more up-front than contact lenses or glasses, but it’s easy to see the long term value it can provide for the right patient. Plus, there’s the bonus of not being dependent on contacts or glasses to see, allowing you to wrestle with your kids, scuba dive, participate fully in outdoor activities, and so much more.
And if you’re worried about the upfront cost of LASIK, there are also several payment options available to most patients, including the use of HSA or FSA funds, possible discounts of up to 15% through your insurance provider, and even 12-month interest-free financing for qualified patients (ask us about it)
When you compare cost and value, LASIK is the clear winner — with a better return for your eyes and your quality of life.