The cost of seeing the world around you in the sharpest vision possible may be more costly than you have ever realized. With impaired vision being the most widespread disability in the world, and 3 out of every 4 people in the United States needing some form of vision correction, let us look at just how costly achieving proper vision is on average. The invention of laser eye surgery has not only safely reduced or eliminated the need for glasses/contacts in patients; it has also lowered the lifetime costs of clear and unimpaired vision.
First, the non-surgical alternative to LASIK surgery, contact lenses and glasses can rack up a hefty bill over the years. Contact lens wearers might not be aware of just how much their lenses and supplies add up since it is typically a monthly cost. There are several types of contacts lenses like daily-wear soft plastic, extended-wear, extended-wear, and planned replacement soft. Based on which contacts are prescribed and preferred based upon lifestyle, boxes of contacts cost anywhere from $20-$70 with an annual cost of $240-$840 (depending upon the type of contact prescribed). In addition to the cost of the lenses themselves, there are the costs of contact solution to clean and disinfect the lenses and new cases as well as regular eye exams to check on prescription changes and any possible infections or irritations that can be common with contact wear.
Perhaps the cheaper of the two vision correction aids that are not laser eye surgery, prescription glasses can still be a costly investment. Once the eye doctor prescribes your vision prescription, then comes many choices of which type of lens material, type of focal, type of lens coatings, and finally the choice of which frames. The types of lenses available are polycarbonate lenses, trivex lenses, high index lenses, aspheric lenses, and photochromic lenses. Next comes the choice of focal if needed/wanted, either bifocal or trifocals depending upon the different levels of vision aid needed. The last choice that individuals have for their eyeglass lenses is the type of coating they may want. The types of lens coatings available are anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and UV coated. Along with the customization of the lenses, the frames can be a pricey feature depending upon name brand and material of the frame. The national average cost of prescription glasses is around $300. In addition to the hardware costs, regular eye exams (normally every two years) are necessary to measure and adjust for vision changes that would require the purchase of new lenses/glasses.
The third alternative for vision correction is not an aid, but instead a permanent solution to vision impairment. LASIK eye surgery physically fixes imperfections in the patients’ cornea to correct vision impairments. While initially the cost of laser eye surgery seems high, when compared against the yearly costs of contacts and/or glasses it is very clear to see that LASIK surgery will pay for itself in a few short year. The 2014 national average cost of LASIK eye surgery in the US was $2,259 per eye, $4518 total. Many factors can influence the price of the surgery; among them are location, surgeon experience, type of laser used, if insurance covers any. Laser eye surgery can range any where from $299 per eye based upon internet specials up to $4,000 per eye for big name, celebrity surgeons.
Here is a quick summary of the average cost of each method of vision correction:
- Contacts: $45 a month on average.
- Contact Supplies: $10 a month on average.
- Eye exam every two years: $100 on average.
- $660-$760 a year for contacts and supplies.
- Eye exam every two years: $100 on average.
- Prescription glasses (lenses, coatings, and frames): $300 on average.
- Prescription sunglasses (if wanted): $250 every two years.
- $400-$650 a year, every two years for glasses.
- One time cost: $4,518 national average cost of lasik for both eyes.
So on a year that a patient gets contacts and glasses (many contact users also buy prescription glasses), the total average cost will be $1,160 the first year. By the end of the fifth year, the average total spent on contacts, glasses, eye exams, and supplies will be slightly more than the one time cost of LASIK surgery. While the upfront cost is high, it is easy to see that in just in the short time of five years, LASIK surgery will pay for itself. The one thing to remember is that once an individual needs glasses or contacts, they will need them for the rest of their lives.