Lasik: is it worth $6000?

sc00f9b5b4.jpg I'm sick and tired of washing my contact lenses everyday, and my dog Malcolm recently broke my glasses with his teeth. That's why I'm thinking about getting Lasik.
Excimer laser technology was first used and developed by IBM to make etchings on computer chips in the 70s. The first excimer eye surgery was conducted in 1988, and the basic underlying technology has remained pretty much the same since then. There are a few things that are new now. The first is how our vision is mapped. The amount of correction needed for Lasik used to be measured the same way one would evaluate for eyeglasses — e.g. by showing the patient Cs facing different directions, giving them different lens options and having them say which eye sees sharper. Around 2002, surgeons started using wavefront-guided corrections, which means the laser relies on multiple detailed topographic maps that show all the quirks in each person's optical system. The second thing that's different is the way the corneal flap is created. The flap-creating portion of Lasik used to be done using a mechanical keratome, basically a high-speed metal blade that would create a flap while the cornea is under a suction cup. "It's very similar to the guillotine effect you see when you go to a deli and they're slicing meat," says Dr. Manche, a Lasik surgeon at the Stanford Eye Laser Center. Now, most places use a femtosecond laser — a super accurate, super fast flap-making device. In addition to being a lot less invasive, the femtosecond laser creates flaps with a more uniform thickness — the mechanical flap tends to create a thinner center and a thicker peripheral, creating more structural instability in the eye. Basically, Manche says, when you see tiered pricing at a laser eye surgery center, you should ask yourself these questions: What kind of laser do they use? Are they using wavefront-guided or traditional correction measurements? Is the flap being created by a laser or a blade? Is the surgery being performed by the head surgeon or an apprentice? Depending on these answers, you could end up with prices all along the spectrum, from a couple thousand bucks to $6000 (which is what Manche charges). "It's lke heart surgery or brain surgery," says Dr. Roy Rubinfeld, a Lasik doctor at Washington Eye Physicians & Surgeons in DC . "Better surgeons will have better equipment, and will understand who is a better candidate and who isn't." Also keep in mind the importance of aftercare, something that many who opt for discount Lasik centers might lose out on. To date, over 17 million Lasik procedures have been performed worldwide, and according to the FDA, 95-99% of them are complication-free. Of course, this also means that a good number of people who have had Lasik end up seeing halos or having compromised night vision — some have even started their own web sites to share Lasik horror stories and cautionary tales. As for the next big thing? Some speculate it might be something called instrastromal ablation, which would use femtosecond lasers — the ones that make the flaps in Lasik — to make cuts inside the cornea. Since there's no flap creation process, there would be no possibility of flap complications, and it may be cheaper because it only uses one machine. Instrastromal ablation was used successfully on test subjects with presbyopia in recent tests outside of the US, but it could be years before we see it stateside. "There are three companies pursuing this now, but it's way down the pipeline," says Dr. Marguerite McDonald. She's the president of the International Society of Refractive Surgery, and she's also the person who performed the first excimer laser surgery in 1988. Other things, like eye implants and inlays, have already been done in small numbers and could become more popular in the near future. McDonald also points out that Lasik is not getting cheaper anytime soon: "It is always going to be expensive because the technology that goes into the surgery is expensive. And there has to be a way to pay for the R&D of each breakthrough." Armed with all this knowledge, I'm still not sure whether I'm going to get Lasik or not. I would definitely do it if it was a little bit cheaper, but I don't want to go for the discounted surgeon who might skimp on things like cleanliness or attention to detail. (I Googled the place that sent me the $500 off coupon, and found out that the head surgeon there had been sued several years ago for reusing blades.) And what about just sticking with my Acuvues? "Contacts work briliantly," Manche says. "If you can wear them and they work well, that's a great option." A great option, Rubinfeld points out, that costs more over a decade than single Lasik operation.


  1. Do it,10 years in January since I had mine done and life is so much better without glasses/contacts. Just wish I could get something done for my aging eyes and reading.

    I was scared, you should be, but it works, its great and its the best thing I ever did.

  2. I live in the US and went to Lasik MD in the Toronto area for my surgery 2+ years ago. I was quoted prices in the US upwards of $5k. Lasik MD was $2200 CAD. I had a business trip to Toronto to cover my flights and such, but even out-of-pocket, it is still less expensive and the service is top notch. My eyes are still 20-20.

  3. I have a good friend who has severely degraded vision in one eye because of lasik.

    On a purely cost basis glasses are much cheaper than contacts or lasik surgery.

    I wish you the best of luck with laser surgery if you choose it but I’d rather spend my money on a new pair of glasses and a couple trips to europe.

  4. According to multiple doctors, I had gotten allergic to contacts, even the last line of contacts, the more pricey daily contacts. I underwent lasik at a well known company, which has Tiger Woods as a spokesman, for over $3,500. I am really happy with the procedure and it was worth the cost.

    My husband has bad allergies and contacts have been starting to bother him, for the same points you had mentioned above. While on our vacation in SE Asia, we spent a couple days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he had lasik for a third of the cost. We had received recommendations from a colleague. Both were worth it. Kuala Lumpur’s certainly was a better deal, but we’ve ended up with the same results. Excellent vision. The equipment and medicine is exactly the same you’d find in the USA. Good luck on your search.

  5. An eye doctor once suggested I have laser surgery. When I asked his receptionist why he wore glasses she said in his business eyes were important and he couldn’t risk them.
    At least with eyeglasses you don’t have a five percent chance of permanently worse sight.

  6. So, I was thinking of getting a haircut. Do I need one? Should I pay for the expensive hair stylist downtown or is my local barber good enough?

    To find out more, I went to a very expensive stylist to ask my questions.

    I had NO IDEA what the answer might be.

    1. Do it! I couldn’t function at all without my glasses and I go the surgery 6 weeks ago and it is WONDERFUL!

      I’m going surfing in Australia in 2 weeks and I won’t have to wear goggles and worry about my lenses popping out in the water.

      Lasik is AWESOME!

    2. That was my reaction, too. Of course a LASIK guy is going to tell you the good, the good, and the good.

      I wonder what the long-term effects are.

    3. And the barber wouldn’t discourage you from ‘wasting your money’ at the upscale stylist, of course.

  7. I had a form of Lasik called PRK last January and it cost about $3600 dlrs total for both eyes at the Eye Center in VA (Dr. Bouthros). In PRK, they shoot the rays directly into your eyes (as opposed to cutting/flipping the lens back and shooting the rays in that way – pretty gross (!), but Lasik takes a shorter time to heal). PRK takes about a year to heal, but I didn’t want any cutting of the cornea/lens. I now have 20/25 vision in my left eye/ 20/20 in my right eye after years of contacts/glasses. Since my one year “warranty” for free touch up surgery is almost up, I have to decide whether I want a correction to go 20/20 in my left eye – right now I am leaning against tempting fate and leaving it alone. Since I got distance vision in both eyes, I require reading glasses. There are some pitfalls – your eyes get dry and require over the counter eye drops sometimes.And the thickness of your eyeball determines whether they have enough to “shave off” for either Lasik or PRK. But I highly recommend it – no more contacts or glasses!

  8. I’ll admit to not knowing a whole lot about lasik, but the last quote by the doc makes him seem like a huckster. Depending on how often you toss your contacts and where you get them, the price of contacts over a decade could be significantly cheaper than 6 grand. I spend about $200 a year on contacts, so it would take me 30 years.

    1. Everyone also makes the assumption that their prescription will be the same over the next 30 years. I know mine changes every 3-4 years. Just for that reason alone I’m sticking to contacts.

    2. To Yancydc: While I have not yet had Lasik surgery, I want to point out that the doctor’s statement is not necessarily wrong. My contacts cost me $400 per year, plus solution, which runs about $7 per month, plus eye exams and then my glasses are about $500-$700 (not designer or extra fancy). This is all because my eye deterioration is extreme and I have other eye problems. So, I definitely spend in the range of $5,000 to $6,000 over ten years, maybe more. I was interested in the article because my eye doctor recommended I only have Lasik surgery performed by an experienced surgeon, which does cost more, since I have various problems. One of my concerns, aside from the cost and risk of worsening my eyesight, is that I have dry eyes and that the surgery could worsen it (my eye doctor told me this but said to talk to a surgeon about it). I found the article informative overall.

  9. Before you get LASIK you should really at least consider the surface procedures instead (EPI-LASIK, PRK, etc).

    The LASIK flap never actually heals. For the rest of your life you can experience flap complications (for instance, you get an elbow in the fact playing basketball, and the flap comes loose).

    With the surface procedures you have a few days of recovery. Then you have much less chance of complications for the rest of your life. I went with Wavefront guided EPI-LASIK and I’m soooo glad I did!

    BTW, the corneal LASIK flap is about a third of your cornea. The Wavefront that goes on inside doesn’t account for that last third, so you’re not getting the full benefits. With surface procedures you don’t have that problem, the WF accounts for all of the irregularities in the eye.

  10. I’ve got my first glasses at age 2, my first contacts at 11. Naturally, I would love to find a way to correct my eyes to a point where I don’t have to wear lenses at all.

    From all the different procedures I’ve looked at, very few could possibly work for me (Lasik won’t). Even if they would, I have so little trouble wearing contacts that even a one-in-hundred chance of some problem is still too high for me. And all of the surgical procedures are new enough that it’s hard to predict what condition your eye will be twenty or thirty years after the procedure.

    Why go through the trouble and risk of a procedure if there’s a not-so-slim likelihood that you’ll end up still wearing glasses?

  11. My dad had it done a few years back. He still has to wear reading glasses but now without his glasses he can tell whether it was me, my sister or my mom who walked into the room instead of just knowing someone had come in. I suspect he’d tell you that if he had to do it again, he would in a heartbeat.

    It’s just a matter of weighing your risks and deciding what’s important to you. Do you hate wearing glasses? Are they heavy enough to cause headaches? That sort of thing.

  12. I had Lasik in June 2009 in the Washington, D.C. Area. It was through TLC Laser Eye Centers, and the Surgeon also did Tiger Woods’ eyes; claims to have do over 100,000 surgeries since he’s started. Sounded a little higher, but if he’s been doing it as long as he says, then I suppose it’s possible.

    Anyway, it was $4500 for the Custom Intralase (I have a bad astigmatism in the left eye so I *had* to do the Intralase). The whole process took 10 minutes once I got seated. I didn’t actually have the option *not* to have the Inralase and Custom/wavefront guided Lasik, but in the end, it was well worth it.

    They claimed a significant reduction in the possibilities of “starbursts and halos” at night, and they were right. Fast forward 6-months and I can’t possibly put into words how happy I am. No buyer’s remorse here. My office offered 0% financing for 1-year, and all the after-care and touch-ups (if needed) for one year were included. I have lifetime touch-ups for 1/2 the going rate at that time, if neccesary.

    As you pointed out, the pricing can be all over the chart. Make sure to find someone reputable. In the end, you get what you pay for, so going for the $500/eye Lasik at the Durango, CO Wal-Mart probably isn’t the best option.

  13. Here in Italy you can have lasik for (almost) free, as part of the national heath care, although you may have to wait up to a couple of years as it is obviously not considered to be urgent.

    I’ve not tried it, my sight is good enough, but all my friend, of every age are happy about it. The operation is fast and clean, but recovery is quite long and painful, as you will be blind for days (no tweeter!) and with sore eyes for weeks.

    I cannot give you an advice on the price, as I find culturally impossible to compare measure human health with money.

  14. From what I’ve heard, even if there are no complications, having normal vision is actually the main drawback. Nearsighted or farsighted folks don’t typically need bifocals as they age, but people with surgically-corrected vision do.

    1. That is not true. The lens behind the colored part of your eye is reponsible for seeing up close and your cornea focuses light for you to see far away. The lens on the inside ages and as it does it will get stiffer and stiffer. That is waht causes everyone to need reading glasses some time after age 40. LASIK corrects the shape of the cornea and should permanently correct your distance vision.

    2. @NickF6

      You said “Nearsighted or farsighted folks don’t typically need bifocals as they age, but people with surgically-corrected vision do.”

      That’s simply not true. Where did you hear this? The fact is MOST people will need bifocals or reading glasses as they age. This usually begins around the age of 40. Out of 5 children in my family (none of whom have had any sort of eye surgery) 4 of us have to wear either reading glasses or bifocals to read. And I’d guess my baby sister won’t have long before she has to do the same.

  15. In Madison, WI, I got the LASIK surgery in March 2009. I had the dual laser method with a laser making the flap and a different one shaping the eye.

    It was the BEST decision I’ve ever made.

    The only discomfort was afterwards. My eyes stung a bit as if I’d been chopping onions. Other than that, it was simple and quick.

  16. South of the border: 200 dlls for each eye. And that’s on the expensive side of the price range. See you all in Nuevo Laredo!

  17. I am very happy with the outcome of my Lasik surgery ten years or so ago. It cost $1,000 for both eyes, it was not covered by my insurance at that time (although today it would be, which has driven the price up to around $2000) and it makes my vision exactly as good as wearing contacts, only without the periodic eye inflammations and ongoing costs. I have spent literally nothing on my eyes since the operation.

    Two caveats!!

    A very small percentage of the population has pain-sensing nervous tissue in the eyeball. Most people cannot feel pain from having their eye sliced, just discomfort. For me, it was excruciatingly painful despite two valium.

    If, when you wear contacts, you see prismatic spectra or “sparklies” around light sources at night, your pupil is capable of dilating larger than the corrective area of your contact lens. You are seeing edge effects. If this makes it impossible for you to wear contacts (the condition is not particularly unusual, and most people cope with it easily enough) you must not get eye surgery, because the surgery will correct the same area as the contacts, so you will have these effects permanently.

    Personally, the sparklies don’t bother me. When a car is approaching me at night, I see rainbows around the headlights, but so what? It makes no functional difference, you can’t see anything when you stare into headlights anyway, and it’s not like I’m going to mistake the car for a platypus or something.

  18. You can get it does very well here in Orlando for $2500 to $3000 assuming you don’t have any major eye issues that disqualify you from getting lasik

  19. I got my Lasik done at the Herzig Eye Institute. Cost me exactly $6000. Worth every penny. Better then 20/20 in both eyes, and I had terrible astigmatism. My night vision even improved.

    I’m a little sensitive to bright ambient light. But if the only downside is that I wear sunglasses more. I came out on top.

  20. I’m confused. The processing of finding out if Lasik surgery is worth $6000 or not is to go to a doctor (who himself charges $6000) and ask him?

    Walking away from the article, I made these strange connections:
    If you use a place that has $500 coupons, they’re going to do medically unsound things to make up for it.
    If you go to places cheaper than $6000, they’ll have their partially trained assistants work on you or use inferior equipment.
    It *could be* Dr. Manche himself who offers $500 coupons and reuses blades.

    I don’t want to be unkind, but at least to me, this is more like a high school report than it is a BoingBoing worthy article. Still, a decent read, just not what I expected.

    PS: Prices are also regionally variable inside of the United States. Go to a much lower cost of living area and you’ll see a significant price break for comparable service.

  21. How about hearing from a $200 Lasik Clinic in India? Or the 1000euro place in Istanbul. I’m sure you can have a great vacation in either country with the cash saved…

  22. I had lasik performed eight years ago. I consider it to this day one of the best choices I have ever made. My vision was so bad that when swimming I could not identify family members. It made for a very uncomfortable time — especially as my wife is not a great swimmer. I was always trying to squint enough to check on her. The resulting headaches were not much fun. (My eyes were so damaged by contacts that I could no longer wear them.) Even snow skiing became a worry after I broke my glasses and was forced to ask a near stranger for a ride home. All that worry is gone. Yes, age is degrading my eyes, but that is nothing to what I dealt with before.

    Shop around, get recommendations from friends and get it done.

  23. I had LASIK done nearly three years ago at the Kobe Clinin in Ebisu. It’s one of the more expensive clinincs in Tokyo and used the newest equipment but it still only cost 250,000 JPY (about 2000 USD at the time). This includes lifetime aftercare if distance vision deteriorates or there are complications. Age-related short-sightedness not covered. The doctors were very good and they provided an English interpreter if needed (I didn’t but it was reassuring to make sure I was understanding when they used technical or obscure words).

    I had no complications and my vision is still better than 20/20. I have good night vision as well, no halos. It was definitely worth it going to the clinic that charged a premium. Before surgery I couldn’t recognize people from 1m away without glaasses or contacts (a glasses wearere since age 12), it’s so nice to travel without glasses or contact lens solution, can take a nap without worrying about taking out contacts, exercising is better (esp outdoors in the rain or swimming) and getting up in the night to see to my son is a lot easier. I was really used to contacts and glasses and didn’t mind them but life is definitely easier now. Additionally I get less headaches from computer usage and have more relaxed shoulders.

    Yes, it’s a luxury not a necessity and in the long run glasses would be cheaper but if you can fford it it’s worth it- certainly more of an improvement to quality of life than an expensive watch or a luxury car.

    And I keep telling myself that I’ll be much better equipped to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape without having to keep track of my glasses ;-)

  24. “Are they heavy enough to cause headaches?”

    Glasses are lighter than ever; my dad has an insane prescription, but he always sticks to titanium frames to keep them light. I imagine it’s a smaller percentage than we think who have real medical reasons to want laser surgery — a lot of people seem to just want to rid themselves of the hassle of contacts and eyeglasses, which, personally, is not enough of a reason for me to undergo surgery to my eyes.

    I’m happy enough with eyeglasses, and no job I will ever have will require absolutely flawless vision. Sure, sometimes I wish I didn’t *have* to wear them, but that’s because we all want options whenever possible.

  25. My wife just had lasik surgery here in Austria, but rather than cutting the flap off the cornea they just put a special solution in her eyes and pulled the surface of it off. I had never heard of that and note it wasn’t mentioned in your description either. Is this common practice?

  26. I have recently been looking into this myself.

    I would suggest you got in for a “consult” with the place you are looking at. I think they are usually free as they want your business. Anyway they will take some measurements and give a procedure recommendation. I know I went a few months ago, and it is good for 6 months or so before an operation.

    Also the place I went to had three different procedures. There is normal “Lasik” which is a flap made using a blade. There there was “Interlase SBK” which is the same thing, but uses the femto laser to do the flap. This allows for a thinner cut. The last procedure was “PRK” which is an older technology, where no flap is involved and is just as safe, however the healing time is much greater. I believe they use Wavefront for everything, which is basically just a machine that digitally takes a picture of your eye in detail.

    For myself I have very bad eyes. I don’t know my acuity, but my prescription is worse than -11 in both eyes. When I got tested I was told I really don’t have enough corona material to safely make a flap and the procedure, however I was eligible for PKR. Likely even then I would not get perfect vision due to lack of material to work with. However it may be possible to get a drastic improvement.

    As to your decision to get it or not, much depends on how it will effect your lifestyle. I sort of get a kick out of people who get it done with -1 or -2 prescription strengths, while I debate heavily about it as it would be a much more life changing experience for myself.

    I believe I have decided to get it done in the spring (money issue, its 5k I don’t have yet, and do not want to borrow), though I have to say I am not looking forward to the healing time of the PKR, it really sounds like a pain in the ass. It is likely worth it for me though. If you have the money, and are eligible for Interlase SBK, and your eyes really suck, I think I would go for it.

  27. $6,000? That’s ridiculous. The doctor I went to for mine ( here in Michigan did it for about $3000 total. I believe Dr. Rosenbaum was on the FDA trial when LASIX was being investigated. I had it done in 2001 and absolutely love it. I was blind as a bat before and contacts worked fine for me, but they were annoying. I’d worn contacts/glasses since 6th grade.

    I don’t have any night halos. I have had my vision degrade a little bit, but only to the point where I prefer to wear glasses driving at night. I will say that I followed the doctor’s instructions to a T because if anything was going to go wrong, it sure wasn’t going to be because of me.

    To pay for it, I had a medical savings plan at work I used and then had a little bit of vision insurance that covered about $500.

    I would not hesitate to do it again. I love being glasses/contacts free.

  28. I don’t see the word “outcomes” in there anywhere. Just mumbo jumbo about machines that go ping. Head/expensive surgeon does not necessarily equal good surgeon, either.

    I’m not saying surgery isn’t science, but it’s not GOOD science. Until I can easily go online and find the guy with the fewest botched surgeries and the best overall outcomes, I ain’t letting anyone near my eyeballs with a laser unless it’s an emergency. Glasses are awesome anyway.

  29. Lisa, on the East Coast of the USA an eye surgeon with decades of experience charges $2000 or less for Lasik.

    JohnnyAction, my Lasik was fourteen or fifteen years ago and cost $1000 total. I have spent exactly zero since then, on eye drops, glasses, eye examinations, etc. A cost savings of several thousand dollars (for me) over glasses and even more over contact lenses.

    Walt Guyll, you are right. If 95% chance is not good enough odds for you, you should avoid any surgery whatsoever. It would be more intelligent to have one eye done at a time, and only risk the second eye after the first was healed, but this would double the cost.

    max_supernova, consider condensing your post to the null string.

    volpecom, Lasik originally used the same machine as PRK, and the surgeon cut the flap by hand. Lasik was developed because PRK has a relatively high chance of eye infection leading to scarring and blindness. Constant application of medication during the healing process can decrease the likelihood of this problem but Lasik is fundamentally safer.

    yancydc, the doctor sounds like a used car salesman to me too.

    paultaz, I was never blind at any point due to Lasik. I drove my car home from the operation and had perfect vision in less than 48 hours. I did wear eye shields at night for a week, so that I would not rub my eyes while sleeping and blind myself, but the itching/soreness actually went away in two or three days.

    NickF6, you’ve heard wrong. One of the main reasons I got Lasik is because as I age, I am going to become farsighted (runs in the family) and by correcting my nearsightedness I have prevented the need for bifocals – exactly the opposite of what you’ve been told.

    Lisa, I recommend you don’t use any surgeon for anything until you’ve talked to previous patients. I got Lasik after a friend did so (she still has perfect vision 20 years later) and several of my friends and relatives got their eyes done by the same surgeon – with 100% success. All of us are very happy with the results.

    1. Why would I condense my post to a null? It’s a perfectly relevant point, and has been made by others in this thread, but I made it first.

      If you ask a service provider that is in direct competition with other service providers which one you should choose, of course he’s going to say his service is the best and try to persuade you not to use the others.

      What did Lisa think he was going to say? “No, I don’t think my service is worth what I charge, those other cheaper ones are just as good!”. Did she expect any sort of bias-free information?

      There. Now that it’s long and rambly, is it more acceptable to you than my succinct metaphoric version?

      1. It seemed to me that the question was “is Lasik worth $6000″ and your reply was “I don’t know and neither do you, and you can’t trust the people you already asked”.

        In retrospect, though, it was impolite of me to dismiss your comment when I am not the person who asked the question, so I hope you will accept my apologies. I regret my rudeness.

      2. max__supernova, your comment was fine.

        señor kagehisa’s evaluation of it left much to be desired.

        1. Then I shall apologize to you as well. Please, disregard my curmudgeonly ravings, or chalk them up to advanced age. I shall endeavor to do better in the future.

  30. I had Lasik just this past March (East Coast) and I have swung wildly from euphoria to buyers remorse ever since.

    On the plus side, you can see as well or better than you can with glasses. Your eyes are self cleaning, and they never fog up in the cold. You wake up and can see instantly! Shower and see the shampoo bottle! Go swimming!

    However – my glasses and contacts were also shielding my eyes from wind and pollen. I’ve never had my eyes water so much or dry out so quickly before. Eye drops are always with you for the first six months, and most days thereafter (so far). The first time your vision is blurry and you have no lens to shift or clean you start to worry about having maybe made a mistake.

    But then it passes and you’re happy again!

    The process itself was pain free – recovery had only marginal discomfort.

    Today I would do it again.

  31. You’ve highlighted the key points – some surgeries use more up to date machines. However, for $6,000, you could fly to London, have the surgery done here (using the latest wavefront machines) and have a week’s holiday with the spare change. The downside would be you’d have to sort out the aftercare.

    Regarding presbyopia (age-related long-sightedness) you can reduce your dependency for wearing reading glasses using Monovision correction – one eye is lasered for distance vision and the other eye for near vision.

    In many ways it’s down to your perception of risk. I’ve had it done, but I was scared beforehand. When I was comparing providers, some had a 1:3,000 “failure” rate and others 1:5,000. So personal recommendations were not going to show who had the best success rate.

    Although there are obvious benefits (being able to go swimming; not having steamed up glasses; having cat naps etc), the most surprising one was the confidence boost it can provide.

    1. @saskplanner (#50): “If you haven’t had Lasik you don’t have a valid opinion on this.”

      Actually, those with conditions where Lasik is contraindicated have a valid opinion. I have Type 1 DiabEEtus, and was told in no uncertain terms that Lasik is not for me. While there is… let’s say conflicting evidence concerning diabetes and Lasik, here’s a good quote:

      “…ultrastructural changes occurring in corneas of diabetic patients, together with different stromal hydration because of the dysfunction of the endothelium, made the eyes respond differently to the laser energy…”


      I think I’ll wait.

  32. I had lasik done 10 years ago. My eyes are still fine, I imagine I’ll need glasses again eventually but I’m 40 now and still can see great. Night vision is fine, no problems, etc.

    My wife had hers done 4 years ago. She had much worse vision than I did and still gets emotional when she talks about being able to wake up in the night and see without having to grope around for her glasses.

    We had insurance that took care of it in both cases, we didn’t pay more than $500 between the two of us. We both had it done at a place that had been doing them for the longest in the city we lived in at the time (Phoenix AZ).

    Mine was done the old way with the mechanical keratome and the way they calculated the ‘prescription’ I guess you would say. It would have been nice to have the more modern methods, but I haven’t had any issues.

    NickF6 mentioned above that someone with Lasik was more likely to need bifocals than someone without. I’d be interested in seeing sources on this, as of course it would apply to me eventually. And as most of my parents and their friends are now in the process of moving from bifocals to trifocals, none of them having had lasik, it would seem that this assertion means an incredibly high percentage of lasik patients end up this way if it is true.

  33. I’ve worn contacts every day for over a decade now and love them. I even wear them while swimming (though I have to be careful – and I try to wear goggles). I’d love to have perfect vision again, but from all I’ve read, Lasik surgery doesn’t seem to result in that. A coworker had it done and is very happy with it, but she still has to wear glasses at work. And with the not insignificant risk of complications, I’m just not willing to risk it.

  34. I had it done, I went to a leading university hospital. I researched the state of the the art and made sure they had it. I found that the competing places used a slightly older version of the tomography device( sorry don’t know if that is the correct name, it does all the critical measurement and mapping of the surface)
    Just make sure you do the wavefront method (called ‘custom’) It is a 3d representation of the eye curvature, it scares the hell out of the that they would even do a reshaping based off of anything less than a full measurement in 3d (they used to do it off of 2 angle measurements, like glasses, some places still do.)
    Spend the $. It is totally worth it. Mine was around 4500$. They gave me a deal, no interest 12 month loan( which is tricky cause it balloons in a big way if you don’t pay it off in 12 months, but I had no problem)

  35. I don’t know why ANYONE would consider a Lasik procedure when there is the better option of PRK or Lasek or even wavelength, why get the flap and weaken your eyeballs now and forever after?

  36. Interesting comments re: swimming! Oddly enough, before Lasik I had truly terrible nearsightedness and astigmatism above water, and perfect vision underwater. In clear waters I could see like I had my glasses on. After the Lasik, though, I lost this ability. Since I spend most of my time above water it’s a net gain, but I’m still nostalgic for being able to see individual scales on fish from yards away. Goggles don’t quite do as well.

  37. A lot of people have had good look with Lasik, including my mother. Unfortunately, I was not one of those lucky people. It’s been 3+ years and I still see double images with each eye but can minimize them by straining. I have been told that the only remedy is more surgery and there is only a 60% chance of improvement. Those adds are not good enough for me at this time. I photoshopped some pictures to show how my vision is perceived.

    I would not recommend Lasik Plus in Paramus, NJ

  38. 9 years since my Lasik surgery. Like volpecom, I had mine done by Dr. Boutros at The Eye Center in VA and didn’t pay anything close to $6K.

    Worth every penny even if I did, in my opinion. I’m 39 now and my vision is still 20/20 or better. Outside of some discomfort for a couple of days and halos around bright lights at night, I haven’t had any negative side effects.

    Maybe it’s unnecessary if your eyes are only slightly off, but it was life-changing to not have to grope for my glasses in the morning, to be able to shave my legs in the shower without putting in my contacts, to splash around in a pool and not fear losing a lens, and to enter buildings in winter without having to blindly pause to wipe off my glasses. I was paying $300/pair to get the lightest lenses I could (otherwise, I had headaches) and needed a new prescription yearly. The blood vessels in my eyes had become enlarged from wearing contacts. I can’t recommend the surgery highly enough to anyone who is living with that daily, like I was.

  39. I am a lawyer. I represented a person in a malpractice case over a botched LASIK procedure. My recommendation is to choose the best doctor, one associated with a major university medical school (such as your Stanford guy). In Los Angeles go to the Jules Stein Center at UCLA. Speak with at least three doctors and have each of them test your eyes independently and have them each give you advice. Do not mention that you’ve consulted with others. The risk, although minimal, is real. The risk is your risk. The damage is often permanent. You won’t get your eyesight back, you’ll only get money. Is that a proper compensation for the risk? That’s the question you’ll have to answer before signing the waiver form.

  40. I have had Lasik and can say that it is WELL worth any cost. I wore glasses my entire life and the freedom to not be forced to reach for my glasses anytime I wanted to read or see is amazing. I would HIGHLY suggest contacting a local medical association or other organization to ask for recommendations, talk to people that have gone to that doctor, and also have a consultation with the doctor to see if you like him and he makes you feel comfortable. If you wear glasses there is nothing like having those out of your life.

  41. I like my glasses. I look good in them and always have a couple pair so I can mix it up. I could get Lasik done for almost free since I have a relative that owns a Lasik practice. But I don’t. Because I like my glasses and don’t want anyone screwing around with my eyes.

  42. I had Lasik done with an all laser wavefront machine. This was about a year ago in Arizona. It was about $4500. I joked around with the guy that did the initial interview and he knocked about $500 off the price. Then he told me that if i stated that I had Spectera eye insurance through my job i would get another 20% off, without any verification or billing to Spectera, some kind of deal they have with them. Well I ended up with severe starburst halos around lights at night for about 2 months afterword. But it was not really much more distracting then smudged glasses, even if it was more dramatic. Then the halos completely disappeared. My vision is better then perfect in both eyes. The surgery was the strangest 10 minutes and best decision of my life. Now I can go swimming and actually see my wife in her suit, and when the zombie apocalypse happens my glasses won’t be my most valuable and irreplaceable possession.

  43. Every penny, once you’re rid of the metal and glass from your face you really start noticing what a s*** they really are. To name a few, walking outside in the rain, constant smudges, contacts for sports, limited focus ability (playing pool), putting on clothes, fumbling for them in the morning, swimming

    Endless minor stuff that kept popping up after I got rid of them.

    1. I still attempt to adjust mine while reading or grab them to clean them when blurry after almost 3 years. ;-)

  44. Well, I found that hiking with contacts was pointless and hiking with glasses was dangerous as the perspective changed dramatically all the time with my glasses slipping down my nose. I worry about contamination with contact use, the constant putting your contacts in brings an opportunity for infection never mind the corneal scarring from using them. I don’t like shooting shotguns with glasses or having to rely on my eyesight that changes rapidly between contacts and glass use when in the field full of bears. I didn’t like working with fish that flung slime when I was collecting data into my eyes with contacts or on my glasses. In the lab I worried about the chemicals my contacts would absorb and I worried about dexterity wearing my contacts.

    But the real reason I had LASIK was I didn’t want to wear glasses when giving birth, I didn’t want to have to struggle to get them on to nurse in the middle of the night (can’t see otherwise), I didn’t want glasses being an object of fascination and destruction for a child either.

    It was a wise investment, 6 years after the fact the procedure cost has equaled what I spent on contacts, glasses, and gear – and I no longer have the field or lab or child issues that depending on glasses or contacts raised. If I were a computer geek or a writer it wouldn’t matter, but for me it does.

  45. If the 6000 dollar one reduces the failure rate to near 0, then its worth it. If its failure rate is same as others then whats the point?

  46. I was looking into lasik a few month ago. I did so much research, and even got the first appointment (consultation) at a few clinics.

    In the end, I decided against the surgery. There is essentially a 5% chance that your vision will be poorer quality and clarity than corrected vision with glasses. I am a photographer and this would be devastating to me.

  47. I had the form of Lasik done with the suction cup to cut the corena. I’ve had great results though occasionally have I have halos in the early morning.

    I had mine done at the Eye Insitute of Utah for about $1800 for both eyes as they were transitioning to the newer forms but offered both. I knew going in because of previous eye problems (and that I had a -13 vision in both eyes) that I didn’t qualify for any enhancments to fix (as then they tried to undercorrect instead of over correcting because the can fix it if it’s undercorrect) and that I would still need glasses in the future. I have two sets of glasses, one for reading and one for driving. Although, I can say it was a cost savings for me as I was seeing the eye doctor for new lenses every 3-4 months.

    Did he tell you that as a female the procedure is only recommened after child birth, if so chosen, and that after or during menopause you will probably have enough of a hormone change to require glasses? These are things to consider as well as the rest but there’s not a question in my mind about getting it done. I’d do again.

  48. I also got my Lasik-like for free in Portugal, thanks to the national health service and the additional insurance that covers government workers. I even got a neat DVD of my surgery I can use to mentally scar people for life (it’s also of course, a proof that the operation went without incidents and that any unexpected complications were due to the post-op).

    Oh, mind you. The surgery itself is pretty close to a traumatic experience (I use to compare it to the Clockwork Orange “reeducation scene”), and post-op is painful. There is a huge problem with people getting into the table and being told it was some sort of magical operation (because LASERS!), and then the result is a 16-year old screaming on the post-op room, rubbing their eyes and telling he hated his parents.

    Meanwhile, I wrote at home a list of things to do if I found myself with a vision disability before leaving, and dedicated nearly three months afterwards just for recovery. As a result, most of the after effects from the operation mitigated during the three years that passed. I think my night vision is a just a hair worse than before, but not enough to consider it debilitating in any way.

  49. I’m surprised about the number of people who have never had Lasik who seem to have an opinion on it. It’s like a meeting I had at work last week and someone said, ‘WELL, I haven’t READ the report but here’s what I think…’

    If you haven’t had Lasik you don’t have a valid opinion on this.

    I was one of the first Lasiks in Canada (1997) and coming up to 13 years later at age 48 I’m still 20/20 and the only side effect is a slight dryness in one eye.

    CERTAINLY worth it. Maybe not at $6k. I had mine done at the premier clinic in Canada 13 years ago and it was $5000.

    1. I think the opinions are not necessarily of Lasik itself — some are, but not all — but of the entire concept of eye surgery, which some people might consider excessive if they can simply wear corrective lenses with no medical complications.

      I didn’t comment specifically on Lasik and neither did a lot of people; we’re simply stating our reasons for having no desire to pursue that kind of procedure.

      For me, my life just isn’t that hard. If I suffered major headaches or had serious problems performing everyday tasks or my job due to my vision, I’d definitely research it. But just because glasses are sometimes annoying, I don’t like cleaning them, or putting them on in the night? Nope.

      Similarly, a lot of women will put up with the aggravating maintenance that long, lush hair requires; in that instance, I took the “surgery” route and just sliced mine short.

  50. 20/600 to 20/20 overnight. I paid $3k. I would pay $10k if I had to. It isn’t about the cost vs. glasses or contacts. It improved my life in ways I can’t put a price on.

  51. Had Lasik PRK two years ago to pass a sports sanctioning body medical. Have since stopped competing, but am very pleased with results. For me, it was worth the risk and the investment.

  52. I dunno, some of the ppl I know who’ve had it done complain of halos from light sources at night, but nothing at all serious. it’s just a vanity thing anyways, if you think it’ll make you look cooler , go for it. life is to be lived.

    1. I really have to disagree that it is “a vanity thing”. This isn’t a boob job or a liposuction, despite advertising. You don’t put a wonderbra on when you want to pee at night. It improves your lifestyle in a way outward appearances do not. If you want to do it for vanity, I highly advise contact lenses instead.

  53. I got my eyes done at LaserVue in San Francisco a little over 9 years ago. After that I hade about 8 years of great vision. Now I still have great vision in one eye (my left) the cornea of my right eye has begun to develop an irregular surface, according to my optometrist as a result of the lasik. This causes bluriness that is basically uncorrectable with glasses (or contacts, I imagine, but I can’t really waear them to say for sure).

    I’m trying to find out now whether or not there is anything I can do to get it corrected through another surgery, unfortunately I moved from San Francisco so I can’t easily just go back to LaserVue.

  54. Everyone I know who’s had LASIK says it’s absolutely wonderful. The risk of becoming a cautionary tale keeps me me from doing it, though. Well, that and also I think I look cool in my glasses.

  55. I had LASIK done 10 years ago. $1000 for both eyes. My eyesight is still better than 20/20. I lived in my glasses before. I don’t care that I may need reading glasses later in life. For me it is a way better option than life glasses. In terms of research, look into what machine the doc is using as it is the machine that does all the work. The doc only deals with the flap (a simple, largely automated, process). There is a lot of bad information out there. The statistics are actually VERY good. It only takes one bad result (which may have been caused by lots of thing other than the surgery) of a vocal patient to skew perception. For me, hands down the best money I’ve ever spent!

  56. Lisa great post, thank you! I’ve often thought about getting Lasik myself, so I appreciate the info.

  57. I just got new lenses put into a pair of frames I bought in Italy last winter. I could probably do that about 4 times for $6K. The idea of slicing and dicing at my orbs just doesn’t seem like the best of ideas.

  58. @octopod: “it’s just a vanity thing anyways, if you think it’ll make you look cooler , go for it.” Would you say the same thing to someone in a wheelchair? I was told I looked better with glasses, but they were a huge pain in the ass. Vanity never entered the equation.

    1. interesting, I don’t know anyone who’d look cooler in a wheelchair, so I probably wouldn’t say that. I do know ppl who, do look cooler wearing glasses. otoh, I can see it might be tedious, like hats can be awesome on some ppl, but always wearing one could become tiresome.

      compared to what life was like for ppl who had poor eye sight 500 years ago, the delta is marginal vs contacts or specs, so going for surgery is just cosmetic/feel-good.

      and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all. money is there to be spent, life is there to be lived.

  59. I have miserable eyesight and have had since I was very young, so I’ve always been curious about vision correcting surgery. I am not willing to risk it at this point, though. Too many radio commercials for LASIK reminds me of when ophthalmologists used to call Radial Kerototomy “Slash for Cash” because it was a quick way to make a money. I’ve also heard many many many people talk about how successful their surgery was. However, the one who had bad results, like Kathy Griffin, speaks louder to me than thousands who had good. Lately I’ve been keeping an eye on the progress of ICLs, which are placed behind the iris by injection. This appeals to me because if you don’t have good results the procedure can be reversed.

  60. If you have astigmatism and/or a strong prescription, be wary and wait for a new technology to come along. Both dramatically increase the chances of ill side effects. One relatively common side effect is making it impossible to drive at night.

    I almost had it done once, and the doctor didn’t mention anything about an increased risk because of my high prescription and astigmatism. I’m really glad I didn’t have it done, just because of the lack of disclosure.

    I will probably get it, but will give it another few years. I go to to get really nice glasses for like $50, so the monetary cost of waiting is negligible.

  61. I had LASIK done nearly three years ago at the Kobe Clinin in Ebisu. It’s one of the more expensive clinincs in Tokyo and used the newest equipment but it still only cost 250,000 JPY (about 2000 USD at the time). Additionally 3 of my friends had had great experiences there. The fee included lifetime aftercare if distance vision deteriorates or there are complications. Age-related short-sightedness not covered. The doctors were very good and they provided an English interpreter if needed (I didn’t but it was reassuring to make sure I understood when they used technical or obscure words).

    I had no complications and my vision is still better than 20/20. I have good night vision as well, no halos. It was definitely worth it going to the clinic that charged a premium. Before surgery I couldn’t recognize people from 1m away without glaasses or contacts (a glasses wearere since age 12), it’s so nice to travel without glasses or contact lens solution, can take a nap without worrying about taking out contacts, exercising is better (esp outdoors in the rain or swimming) and getting up in the night to see to my son is a lot easier. I was really used to contacts and glasses and didn’t mind them but life is definitely easier now. Additionally I get less headaches from computer usage and have more relaxed shoulders. One of my friend’s face changed dramatically for the better after LASIK as he has a permanent squint before- after LASIK his face was a lot more relaxed.

    The surgery itself was painless. The worst thing is the nervousness- but to be honest the actual time in the chair is less than 5 minutes. (The interpreter held my hand which was nice too ;-) )

    Yes, it’s a luxury not a necessity and in the long run glasses might be a little cheaper over the course of your lifetime but if you can afford it it’s worth it- certainly more of an improvement to quality of life than an expensive watch or a luxury car.

    And I keep telling myself that I’ll be much better equipped to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape without having to keep track of my glasses while being chased by hungry mutants.

  62. I had my eyes done over a decade ago at a large clinic in Vancouver, BC. At that time, it was only $1,200 US for BOTH eyes. I am sure it is done with a newer machine design and is cheaper. Initial and follow up care was handled near me in Portland, Oregon. Went from being blind without glasses (20/400) to 20/30 or better in both eyes!

  63. What Dr. Eyegouger didn’t mention – the one thing I really would need to know before choosing a Dr. – is whether the expensive doctors and procedures have a lower rate of side effects compared to the cheaper options. Something tells me if they did, he’d have mentioned that.

    Also, “95-99% are complication-free”? That’s a pretty wide range. If it’s 95%, that means you have a 1 in 20 chance of complications. Those aren’t fantastic odds when you’re talking about your eyesight.

  64. I has Lasick done in Toronto at TLC around 1998. I had very bad eyes. -10.5 and -9.5 with at least -2 astigmatism in each.

    I had no side effects. and my eyes have been good for a number of years. I just started having to wear glasses again. -1.5 and -1 with a bit of astigmatism.

    At that point I was informed that no one locally will even touch eyes that are as bad at mine were now.

  65. I had laser eye surgery done this year and have 20/20 vision, no blurriness, halos, obscured night vision or excessive dry eye. I use moisturizing drops approximately once a week. I’ve been told that the healing process can take up to a full year, but so far so good!

    I went to LasikMD in Montreal QC, and paid about $1,600.00 USD.

    Laser eye surgery may not be for everyone and there is always a risk, but I had a positive experience with great results and feel that it was money well spent.

  66. I had Lasik done in Toronto about 10 years ago. It cost me about $1200 CAD and I have had no problems whatsoever. Yes, the horror stories are bad news but if more than 1% of patients had serious complications, there would be hordes of shambling angry blind people at all the clinics.

    If you are into water sports at all, you know glasses and contacts are a show stopper. Find a well established reputable clinic and get it done.

  67. IMO, glasses are cheaper, easier to change/update (as necessary), and have zero chance of causing permanent damage, dry eyes, vision artifacts, etc.

    Don’t forget, glasses can be fashionable, and can even help protect your eyes from injury. On more than one occasion, I’ve been very glad for the meager protection afforded by mine.

  68. I have a cousin who worked for Lasik years ago.
    Two things about what my cousin mentioned stick out in my mind.

    A) While it may be true that of the 95-99% (according to Lasic’s spin) didn’t have “permanent” damage, technically speaking, Lasik surgery has only been practiced since approximately 1989… so about 20 years.

    Now consider that cancer treatments, before they even hit clinical trials need around 6 years of research behind them first before they are even allowed to go to clinical trial and then after that they take around 8 years of research before they go public.

    Lasik has done NONE of that because it isn’t a drug. It’s a “procedure”.

    The only basis of testing is really the people who are either “fine” or markedly screwed up with halos, poor night vision or whatever.

    So personally, I’d definitely say these “doctors” are snake oil salesmen with little regard for the people they’re treating and should definitely be treated with some skepticism in terms of their approach to science and medicine.

    B) As a professional who worked for them, sold their product, and engaged their procedures and practices, my cousin never got Lasik. My cousin simply didn’t trust it. My cousin felt that the priorities of the “doctor’s” were not with the clinical well being of the people they were “treating” but with their wallets. and of course for 5000$ dollars, when you’re talking about an instant gratification procedure, then of course everything will be fine.

    For those people who have had no problem with the procedure.. well, frankly its barely been 20 years. I’m curious to know how their vision is when they’re in their 60’s or 70s and what kind of complications they have. But at the moment, with only 20 years of actual live practice, zero clinical trials, and little medical research, I think people should be extremely careful and skeptical when they consider these types of Frankenstein procedures… sure they may be working for some, and they may even be fine afterwards, but do you really trust something with only 20 years of actual practiced medicine associated to it?

    B) the argument that you need to try it first to know whether its good or not is, just plain silly. I don’t need to try crack to know that its addictive and probably horrible for my complexion. Lasik is bad science.


    1. 20+ years of data is “bad science”?

      If I’m in my 70’s and my eyesight gets crappy it will still be worth the $5k I spent not being disabled for the best years of my life.

  69. I got my Custom IntraLasik in Sept. for $5880. After 20+ years if glasses it was time. I thought the surgical technology had improved, the computational power of the surgical machine, and there was enough long term data where I felt very comfortable with the risks.

    From having some really crappy eyesight for most of my life, I now have 20/15. The feeling of not being disabled it amazing. I can think about swimming with out being out of it and I don’t get headaches from working on the computer anymore. $6000 is really a good price for that much improvement in quality of life. (for me anyways…)

  70. LASIK is the best thing I’ve ever paid for.

    I don’t like recommending optional procedures but the positive change in my quality of life has been large enough that I feel like I’m doing folks a disservice if I don’t recommend it.

    I had the wavefront LASIK with femtosecond flap and paid $4000 here in Houston.
    I was playing darts that night with perfect vision.

    No side effects or regrets.

  71. Absolutely, but only if your vision is bad enough. My vision w/o glasses was worse than 20/400. I was at the very end range of correctability. If someone has a very small prescription, I don’t think they will see much value in the surgery, especially for the price.

    I personally recommend PRK. I have thin corneas, so they could not perform LASIK, but they did PRK instead. Same laser, the only difference is that they did not make the cut and recovery time is a bit longer (about a month for full recovery, but vision is still good during that month).

    Really the “recovery” is that text is a bit blurry at first until your vision stabilizes (they overcorrect at first, then your vision “rubberbands” back into place). And night vision is reduced for awhile, but does come back.

    It’s been 5 years since I had my surgery and I still have 20/20 vision and I love it! I don’t miss my glasses at all. So for me, the money was well worth it to be free from glasses/contacts.

  72. Forgot to add that Custom IntraLasik actually smoothed out abberations in my lenses in addition to correcting my perscription. So theoretically my vision should be very crisp. I still have a couple weeks of healing left for all haziness to go away.

  73. I sympathize with ya, as this is something I’m considering as well. But whatever you do, I would suggest staying away from “$200 Lasik in India,” which will actually cost you at least $2000, once you figure in airfare, an OK hotel, etc., not including what it will cost the traveling companion who will look after you as you recuperate. Also, if the doctor in India botches the operation you’ll be left with no meaningful legal recourse against him; if a doctor in the U.S. screws up, you’ve got a roughly 40-50% chance of being partially compensated for the resulting blindness. I’m not saying India is always a bad place to outsource elective surgery, or that it wouldn’t be a fun preoperative vacation (been there a couple times myself), but for something as critical as your eyesight, don’t scrimp.

  74. I paid $3000 US 10 years ago. I would never want it any other way. No problems with night vision.. the only change I have noticed is that my eyes are more sensitive to light, just slightly and I need to where sunglasses more often. that is probably a good thing though.

    My mother got lasik as well and she still needs bifocals.

  75. One thing to keep in mind: The technology continues to improve, and — for the forseeable future — you only have one shot at LASIC. The choice of whether or when to go this route should consider not just your current eyesight, but how much further it is expected to drift, whether you’re showing signs that cataract surgery will eventually be needed, and things of that sort.

    I’ve worn glasses all my life. Even though they’ve gotten heavier over the years, I really don’t notice them most of the time. And I’ve got a strong enough flinch reflex that I’ve never seriously considered trying contacts; the complexity of my perscription also argues against that. As does the fact that I’m now up to bifocals.

  76. Again, it’s not for everyone. When I asked about Lasik, my doctor said I’d have to switch to glasses or soft lenses for at least 3 months before I could be evaluated; that there were only a couple of practitioners in the Bay Area he’d want me to see; and that there was a good chance none of them would agree to operate. (I gather I have eyeballs roughly the shape of a cocktail onion, and it’s unlikely the reshaped lens would hold.) Somehow, I suspect there are plenty of Lasik mills out there that would happily take my money and let me discover the caveats first-hand.

    My vision is about what one would expect from cocktail onions, as well. (On your standard 20-foot eyechart, I can make out the ‘E’ — *if* I stand 5′ away.) And that’s not even taking into account my astigmatism. During my stint as a graphic artist, I was getting new lenses for my glasses every 6 months. However, in the two decades preceding my chat with my doctor, I’d had only a minor change made to the prescription for one eye — thanks to gas-permeable (hard) lenses. In fact, I wore the same pair of lenses every day for 15 years.

    So why’d I even ask about Lasik? Because my arms had finally grown too short, and I wondered if surgery might spare me the age-related trauma of reading glasses. Unfortunately, no — unless I chose to have one eye strapped for distance and the other for close-ups. I finally settled on bifocal contacts: Still gas-perms, they’re ground with a different strength in the center than around the rim; depending on whether one is looking straight ahead or downward, they shift accordingly. Unfortunately, they don’t hold one’s prescription the way single-focal lenses do.

    And as an aside, don’t confuse Lasik with retinal repair surgery, simply because they’re both done with lasers. The latter hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. (Imagine being stabbed in the eye, repeatedly, with a knitting needle — at a rave.)

  77. I am a very satisfied lasik recipient as is my wife Sharon. We both had Lasik before we were together as a couple. Personally I think it’s the best choice I ever made. For me an active life style made glasses a hassle so I wore contacts for years. Then I had a recurring cornea infection and had to give up wearing contacts. After the infections healed I had the conversation with my opthalmologist, Dr. GreenBerg, Danbury, CT about Lasik. He did the procedure as part of his practice. After already been treated by him he had earned my confidence.

    I ended up with 20/15 vision, no complications, and my night vision was not affected at all. A couple of years after I found myself needing reading glasses(+1.25) in dim light or for fine print, but I still have 20/15 vision six years later. So I remain very pleased.

    I think I paid about $4000 then, I don’t remember exactly. Sharon went to a clinic that does Lasik exclusively, Robbins Eye Center, Bridgeport, CT. She paid about a bit less there also about six years ago. We’ve both had very positive experiences with Lasik. We’re both glad we did it.

  78. Actually it depends on where you are to travel to Turkey and approximately you will be charged 900 Euro and plus getting Turkey, 2 -3 days hotel expenses. Of course very good doctors doing this operation at! In fact I was wearing glasses and get rid of them in two days. After 30 days I could start swimming and after a year everything was fine. Still fine after 5 years. Nothing happened like infection or damage in my eyes. However the operation might be somehow strange because they are doing the operation awake and you see everything! You cannot close your eyes during the operation, they have all kind of precautions..

  79. I looked into it a couple of years ago. All my (younger) friends who have had it have raved about it. “Best thing I’ve ever done for myself” is a common sentiment. But I’m pushing 50, and the lasik docs I talked to said I would just be trading one set of glasses (distance) for another (reading). I wore monovision contacts for a few weeks to see if that would work, but it really screwed with my depth perception when climbing, shooting pool, and at the shooting range. So it’s glasses and soon bifocals for me.

    But I look good in glasses.

    I’d do it in a second if I were 20 years younger. Of course 20 years ago, the technology was a lot more iffy than it is now.

  80. I began to wear glasses in 2nd grade. I have an extremely pronounced brow ridge and very small eyes so getting contacts in was almost impossible. I got my Lasik done in 1999 after 34 years with glasses and even at a $1000 an eye, I still consider it money well spent. My vision went from 20/250 and 20/400 to 20/15 in both eyes.

  81. I had Lasik about 9 years ago. My eyes were to dry to use contacts. I used to focus about 3-6 inches from my nose. I had a hard time finding my glasses in the morning if I didnt put them in the right place. It became a safety issue when I was the only able bodied adult in ourearthquake country (Los Angeles) home.
    They used the wavefront technique to map my eyes, which had some problems. I blink very quickly at any light flashes and it took about 10 tries each eye for them to get a good picture. I also had some flap complications initially that took a week or so to heal (dr said they usually only happen to older women!). After that it was great! I had monovision done so I could read monitors/books and see the street signs, etc. It all went quite well for many years. However, about 2 years ago I noticed difficulty focusing on books and monitors – the dreaded presbyopia! I’m 51 so it wasnt unexpected. I started wearing reading glasses, and also some distance glasses for night time driving. Now I’m back to wearing (very light weight) progressive glasses full time. I can still see ok without them, but its all a bit blurry.

    Am I happy with lasik? yes. Those years without glasses were great and we all felt much safer. I would definitely do it again. I’d try for the femtosecond flap part. I’ll wait a few more years to see if they get a good way to deal with presbyopia before I’d do it again.

  82. I feel like most people who have commented on this article are either providing reasons why this technology is a bad idea or justifying why they decided to do it. I find it interesting that people feel like they need to justify a private medical procedure, and that people who aren’t interested in the procedure feel the need to weigh in.

    Which is not to say that I don’t feel that need as well. For myself, I’m allergic to affordable contact lenses (the ones that I could wear would cost me about $400 every six months), and while I get decent vision with my glasses, it’s still not perfect, and if they get lost, broken, or I’m in a situation where I can’t wear them (for example, a lot of sports activities at least recommend you not wear glasses, as they’re just another thing that could get jammed into your face) I’m helpless. Some respondents have mentioned not being able to recognize family members who enter a room without them. I often can’t even see that anyone has come in at all. Also, my glasses can’t be worn in the shower (I need special coatings that are heat sensitive), so I’m blind in a place where I’m near potentially scalding water, razors, and a nice hard marble floor to fall on.

    What I find lacking in most discussions about this procedure is a qualitative analysis of the risk/benefit trade-off in relation to individual circumstances. If you have bad vision, but it’s not debilitating, and you just are fed up with glasses and contacts, well, maybe it is reasonable to argue against surgery for a mere annoyance. But then again, the goal of such procedures is to enhance quality of life. Some people might say that a person who fits the above description is well enough off and should just cope. That person may disagree.

    Lastly, I feel the need to point out that this is much more than a cosmetic issue, or at least it can be. If a person’s eyesight is really terrible, they are always at risk of suddenly becoming visually impaired if, say, their glasses break or they lose a contact. This should be added to the risk/benefit equation.

  83. One definite upside of eye surgery: You won’t end up being the guy whose glasses always fall off and get trampled in a chase, making him easy fodder for a vengeful mummy/vampire/misc. monster.

  84. I had it done in 1999. I lived on the US border to Vancouver BC, and hopped over to get it done there. My friends had it done, and I was happy with the exchange rate on currency at that time.

    It’s the best money I have ever spent. We got my husband’s eyes fixed six months later. One small procedure, and for the first time in my life, I could see. Now, 11 years later, I’m still happy I got it done. I’ve saved as much money on contacts, glasses, and exams as I paid for that surgery.

    Back when I got it done, it was not approved in the US yet. That meant the waiting room was filled with folks from Hawaii, Montana, and Texas, while I waited to go in.

    Everyone told me horror stories before I went, but it was always the friend of a friend type of story. I know five people who have had it done, personally. It’s still anecdotal, but we’re all very happy.

    Things that made it all worth while afterwards? Being able to read the clock at night without picking up a pair of glasses. Being able to see the inside of my shower in more than big blotches. Being able to swim without constraint. None of those were functional because of how blind I was before the surgery.

  85. Thanks for this article. I was just about to look into having Lasik for my minor eye problems, but this (and the comments that followed) have convinced me that glasses are much cheaper and less risky. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t even consider Lasik unless my eyesight were much worse.

  86. “I’m sick and tired of washing my contact lenses everyday” – can’t you use disposables? I haven’t washed contacts in over a decade, and the disposables are far more comfortable and convenient. Great for swimming, etc too as there’s no concern with losing them and I’ve always got extras around. At less than $300/year a decade of disposables will still run you less than half the $6k Dr. Manche charges for lasik.

    1. +1 for disposables. They are much more comfortable than the monthly contacts, and require neither washing nor eye surgery.

  87. I had RK (radial keratotomy) done over 15 years ago. Lasik was not even available then, but my great results with the diamond-tip scalpel method (from almost 20/400 to 20/30, and a great reduction in my astigmatism) made it worth the while. I’m over 40 now, and will need to check into getting bifocals soon, but not needing glasses (except for driving) has been worth the cost. You did your research, now see if you can work out a payment schedule with a doctor you want to to the procedure – if you still want to do it. Otherwise, consider yourself more knowledgeable about about your options, and keep up on the latest innovations, in case you decide to do it later.

  88. Got my Lasik for FREE. Signed up for an Flexible spending account and elected to contribute $5000k for the year. This FLEX plan allowed you to access the money immediately – and slowly, over the year, they deduct amounts from your paycheck. I had the surgery – it cost $4k total. Well…I just happened to quit my job 2 weeks after I had surgery. Flexible spending account already had paid.. Free.

  89. I’m just too chicken to go in for surgery I can live without. I’ve heard great things and bad things about the surgery, and I think I’d rather just stick with my glasses. I can’t see without them (and that Twilight Zone episode is my worst fear!), but I get by just fine with glasses and prescription goggles for swimming.

  90. Even with 20/20 vision, after age 40 presbyopia (can’t focus close) sets in and you’re going to need reading glasses or a magnifying glass.

    The standard laser for these operations is an argon fluoride excimer. System cost is probably in the $500-700k USD range.

    System manufacturers make their money by procedure fees; system sales are secondary.

    The first ablation of corneal tissue (cow) with an excimer laser was done at IBM Research in the mid ’80s. It was one of those technologies that wasn’t related to computers, so they licensed it cheap. They may be regretting it now.

  91. It’s worth noting that, similarly to the improvements in LASIK technology, contact lens technology has improved noticeably in the 18 years I’ve been wearing them. My newest scrip is for Acuvue Oasys (used to use Acuvue II, opto tried to sell me some other brand, it never got comfortable over the course of a week, we tried Oasys, and I’ve never looked back), and they’re just the bee’s knees. And at my current use-pattern, if I can get 3.5% return on that 6K, I’m even with LASIK even in the long term!

  92. This will confirm much of what has already been posted. My wife had Lasik surgery about nine years ago. First she researched not only the usual stuff about success rates and horror stories (over a number of years). Then, once the procedure looked safe enough, she checked the record of the particular clinic and surgeon–hers had done thousands of procedures with a complications rate around 1%. The pre-surgical process was long and pretty careful, multiple appointments with a lot of attention to evaluation of her eyes (eyeball geography and degree of myopia made her a borderline candidate). She could not wear her gas-permeable contacts for quite a while before surgery. The procedure took less than fifteen minutes, and I was invited to watch on a monitor on the other side of the room. When she walked outside two hours after the operation, she could read a street sign a block away even through the wraparound dark glasses. Initial healing took a couple weeks and was not terribly uncomfortable–mostly a matter of eyedrops, sleep mask, and avoiding glare. Because of her pupil dilation, she does have some haloing of point-source lights at night–but that is a small price to pay for being able to see during the day. She went from 20/900 to 20/15 in a few minutes, and never again has to worry about having her glasses break or fall off and leave her helpless (as happened to her one night on a Chicago street–the event that convinced her that the time had come). Because she was already presbyopic, however, she now owns about 50 pairs of readers of various strengths, stashed all over the house, office, and car. But without the surgery, her situation would be much, much more difficult.

    She had the surgery in Canada, and when we asked why it was so much less expensive there than in Minnesota, we were told that in Canada the manufacturer was not allowed to charge a per-procedure license fee (as was the practice in the States). This cost advantage was one reason the company that ran the clinic was establishing centers where they could draw customers from the US. Our experience was rather like ethicalcannibal’s @63–the waiting room in Winnipeg was full of nearsighted Yanks.

  93. The people I know who need glasses are some of the happiest people I know. I think it’s because they can’t always see what a mess people make of the world around us.

  94. Lasik is an irreversible invasive elective surgery. Of the 17 million people, 170,000 to 850,000 people have had mild to severe complications.
    I’m not willing to risk a 1% – 5% chance on worse, or having no vision, when reversible, temporary, non-invasive alternatives exist (glasses and contacts).
    I’ll just wait for Retinax Five to be invented, thank you.

  95. I believe 5 out of the 8 government laser specialists wear glasses. There appear to be a lot of ‘expert’ opinions based upon single experiences regarding laser eye surgery here.

    The lens is cut with a microkeratome blade and leaves a ‘hinge’. If the hinge breaks off you are screwed i.e. vision loss. In addition, the surgery is still considered ‘new’ < 20 years. There is no valid data available to determine IF the surgery is effective long-term so comments regarding saving money are pointless. i.e. how much are a pair of glasses, how long do they last against $6k over 20 years. Factor in the potential for blindness, eye irritation (typically constant burning sensation), vision distortion (halo, blurring, floaters…) and the potential for problems becomes more meaningful. The risks are deemed ‘acceptable’ statistically per 1,000 but you would not want to be one of the 5-10 people who experience problems. Controlled studies will only be meaningful after 20 years or so. There is a rather disturbing article (paid access) in the Journal of Optholmology where patients detail the problems experienced. As one of the ‘pleasanter’ examples, a patient who dug out their eyes with a pencil after two years of constant burning agony… I suggest people do a LOT more research before taking what is still considered a surgery with high risks…

  96. Lasik in theory sounds kind of cool (WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY!) but in practice, people slicing into your eyeballs? More like Saw then science to me. Just thinking about it gives me the willies.

    Plus, I look weird without glasses.

  97. I had lasik last year, and things have been amazing. As with any surgery and people have stated, there is risk vs benefit. Just as there is with any surgery. One may have to go for open heart surgery and could die in the process.

    There are times when I miss wearing glasses, but it’s only from a vanity point, glasses are fun now, but then again, so are sunglasses! I don’t miss running and having my glasses fog up, I don’t miss having to take contact lenses out, cleaning or the costs. As an added bonus, the entire surgery was income tax deductible and I got a nice healthy refund back.

    1. “One may have to go for open heart surgery and could die in the process.”

      Yes, but in those cases, it’s almost certainly a case of life or death, or a condition with serious medical implications. Lots of people (not all) here are talking about how glasses and contact lenses are *annoying.*

      You *can* get prescription sunglasses. But I do envy girls who can just grab fashion frames off a rack, and switch out every year.

  98. I got LASIK surgery about 4 years ago, and for me, it was one of the greatest things I have ever done.

    I had extremely bad vision–without my glasses or contacts, I couldn’t do anything–couldn’t see a face that was a couple feet away. I was on the edge of what they could reasonably correct with LASIK, and the doctor thought it would take 2 surgeries, but fortunately it went really well, and I came away with 20/20 vision with only one.

    I have had some complications–my eyes tend to get dry now, and I basically carry eye drops around all the time. And at night, I do get some halos around lights, but it doesn’t prevent me from driving, it’s just annoying. Honestly, I had the halo issue a bit in my glasses due to having large pupils anyway.

    I think if you have very bad vision, then the cost is completely worth it–it’s a life changing experience. If your eyes aren’t that bad though, it might not be worth the price, both in money and potential side effects.

  99. Next time I need a new car, I’ll consult a salesperson at an auto dealer-I’m sure they’ll be fair and objective.

    This ‘consumer report’ was nothing but a giant sad.

  100. Paulatz @ #14 said:

    I cannot give you an advice on the price, as I find culturally impossible to compare measure human health with money.

    That was such a powerful statement. It’s the reason I find it so hard to discuss national health care with the Rabid Right.

  101. My mom has has lingering issues with her treatment, but I had mine done in the early 2000s and would never go back.

    YES – I do have some haloing at night and I do alter my driving at night because of this (especially avoid it if I am tired at all).

    Otherwise I do NOT miss my hard contacts or my glasses, which I could never find a pair I didn’t break or bend in my klutzy ways.

    Lasik is like any optional surgery procedure and you should always balance cost vs value vs risk.

  102. I had lasik done in December 2004. I don’t know how much it cost since it was a graduation present from my mom (my sister had it also). When I had it done it was the mechanical cutter and the wavefront laser. I now have about 20/17 vision and I would do it over in a heart beat. However, My older sister had Lasik done a few years before me and she has a stigmatisim (football shapped eyes) and she had the halo problem and had to have one of her eyes re-done. she now has distance glasses but doesn’t need them for much.
    As far as healing goes for the first 1-2weeks I had terrible night vision(when driving at night all lights had a large halo around them). After the first 2 weeks my eyes have been perfect. The flap they cut is completely healed I play sports and have stuff in my eye with no flap complication. I highly recommend Lasik to anyone who is eligible.

  103. Get it done in Japan. Costs around $3K (even with the crappy exchange rate) For the other $3000 you can get a flight there and a service apartment on Tokyo for a month.

    If anyone knows anything about lasering eyeballs and can do it precisely, it’s Japan. They’ve been on top of vision correction surgery since before WW2.

    And you’d also get to spend a month in Japan, which, when they’re not lasering your cornea, is a pretty neat place.

  104. i had it done 6 years ago. Threw my glasses away and have never “looked back”! Not only do I love not wearing glasses, but think of all the money I’ll save over the years. Do it. Its so worth it.

  105. The fear for fears sake on the comments I find quite amusing. Being scared of technology for the sheer factor of being scared is kind of Luddite in a way. Go to someone that does custom surgery and not “big box” type surgical centers where they run as many people through and you can greatly reduce your risks. It’s just like anything else in this world, a little research can go a long way.

  106. Get a consultation with more than one surgeon (or representative). Some of them care more about making a sale than fixing your eyes.

    I checked out four supposedly popular and highly recommended surgeons in NYC. I went with the surgeon who wouldn’t do surgery on me unless my corneal scars from contact lens were smoothed over with a strict eyedrop regimen (took 2 weeks for the doctor to be satisfied). Everyone else wanted to schedule a surgery right away.

    It was worth the $5440 to find the best surgeon for me. It was actually ~$6200 but my insurance had a discount for certain surgeons in laser network. My surgeon also offered Carecredit, where you can pay interest free for 12, 18, or 24 months. I have 20/25 vision.

    Side note: do you have small eyes? I have teeny tiny eyes and I ended up having lasik in one eye and PRK in the other because the suction cup for the lasik barely fit in my eyes. Just something to bring up to your surgeon (although I hope this is already covered if the surgeon has a lot of patients with small eyes…)

  107. Eyes change. If you need a new vision correction prescription every couple of years, your Lasik correction may not last.

    Look through an old pair of glasses. That may be how far off you’ll be a few years after Lasik surgery.

  108. re my previous comment about my lasik surgery 6 years ago , Dr. Julie Larsen here in South Burlington, Vermont charged only about $1500 per eye then. I find it hard to believe yours would be $6000. I suggest you shop around.

  109. Absolutely worth it – had it done six months ago, and only wish I’d done it years earlier.

    US$ 6000, though? That’s almost double what I paid for it in NZ…

  110. I had PRK done in ’97. I came out with my right eye near perfect and the left a bit worse. I went 7 years later for a free “tune-up” on left to see if it could be better corrected. I came out a bit worse. I waited two more years till the WaveGuide system was available and then tried again. This time it worked and my left eye was not better then my right. The only downside is that I have halos at night and have developed a bit of an astigmatism in my right.

    Would I do it again, even it it meant going through the pain and healing three times? Yes, in a heartbeat. It’s been over 11 years since I had it done and I still get a smile when I look into the distance and realize I can see things that were once just a blur to me.


  111. I had IntraLase (laser contour mapping, laser flap cut, plus lasik) in Dallas nearly 3 years ago. The cost was about $3000 total for both eyes and done by the same surgeon who handles eye correction for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. The actual surgery was done by this high-profile guy, not anyone else working under him. It was first-class treatment all the way. I did not get the feeling of the place being a “mill.” Careful instructions were given for before and after the surgery. I was seeing better immediately after the surgery, and 20/20 a few days later. My vision has been perfect since then, and I don’t have diminished night vision or any other side effects. I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.

    The deciding factor for me was constant irritation by my contact lenses. Glasses were not really an option, as I am really active and they only get in the way. I admit while I did my homework before getting the surgery, I was scared the day of. Age is certainly a factor when considering this kind of surgery. If you are over 40, you are generally too old for this kind of surgery because of age-related changes the eyes go through from then on.

  112. I asked my optometrist why he still wears glasses. He said that a) he is waiting for long term studies to come out, and that b) he does not mind wearing glasses because c) his wife thinks he looks sexy in glasses. :)

    He also said that the place to go is… crap, either Tijuana or Neuevo Laredo, I can’t remember which right now, but that’s where the big companies go to go a lot of their testing and research and such, and they use the absolute latest is equipment and the absolute latest in techniques and it’s pretty inexpensive because it’s in Mexico.

  113. I had PRK at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, one of the best. It cost $5000, and I had a great doctor. I had a lot of complications, a lot of pain, and a very slow recovery. It’s been over six months and I am still on two daily medicated drops, have trouble seeing in low light, and am at slightly worse than 20/25.

    Even if you have the best of the best, nothing is a sure bet. My aftercare has been good, but there is still only so much that can be done unless you want the surgery again. I’d recommend against PRK.

  114. Do it! I had lasik done in 1999 and have been happy with my eyesight ever since. My cost was $900 which included both eyes, pre- and post- visits. I wasn’t about to pay the $3000+ that it cost in Washington state, so I used a center in Vancouver that had superior equipment and more experienced doctors. I would recommend anyone on the US side of the border to consider doing the same thing. Concerning the surgery itself, it took 10 minutes and immediately afterwards I put on the sunglasses they gave me and went out for Indian food.

  115. I had mine done at USC – Doheny Eye Institute in 1998. After living with progressive myopia for 40+ years, and a correction of -13 diopters, I was ready for anything but the heavy, nose crushing glasses. I had a Johns Hopkins trained eye surgeon, and three treatments, and got 20/20 vision for 6 years at a cost of $6800. Yeah, so worth it.
    It’s not for everybody, if you have a light correction, think twice. It will wear off, you may have to get it done again, you’ll have dryness, some starring at night for awhile after, but it totally improves your overall night vision.

  116. And if you decide against it, you can replace your broken glasses pretty cheaply – easily under $50/pair including antireflective coatings, etc. There are multiple vendors; has reviews of some, forums for discussion, and publishes notifications of discount codes from multiple vendors.

  117. I don’t care how many people have had Lasik five or ten years ago and gush about how wonderful it is. Nobody touches my eyes. Period. There is no benefit that justifies risking my eyesight. Ever.

    Had Lasik five years ago? Well, let me know how many years it takes for the side-effects to set in. Side-effects like loss of night vision or maybe blindness. No, there’s no proof of either because it’s all too new. Lack of evidence of side-effects doesn’t mean there are none.

    But what the heck, right? You only see once?

  118. I’m one of the 5%. I had conventional LASIK back in January 2006 and paid $3,200. After the surgery, I was experiencing issues including halos, double vision and extremely poor night vision, so they re-treated my left eye (for $100) a few months later, then used wavefront on my right eye (for $1,000) about a year after that.

    Today, my vision is superb in bright sunlight but pretty mediocre otherwise. In low light, I have to strain to keep my vision from going double, and frequently (especially in florescent light for some reason) I can’t bring the two images together no matter how hard I try. I get frequent headaches from the strain. The halos and other night-vision problems are as present as ever. My left eye also seems to have gotten worse over time; I have an appointment scheduled with another eye doctor to test my vision and I suspect he’ll recommend glasses (which I’m not opposed to if they’ll help).

    I don’t blame anyone but myself – I took a calculated risk and it didn’t pan out. Odds are, you’ll have a better result than me, but just know that I regret nothing more than my decision to get LASIK.

  119. With all the fear-mongering going on here I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the incredible dangers involved with wearing glasses and contact lenses.


    Actual scientific data (gasp!) shows that wearers of contact lenses compose over 90% of victims of fungal keratitis eye infections, and a third of the people who develop this particular problem (contact lens wearers also are prone to several other types of infection, such as acanthamoeba, trachoma, ocular herpes, and conjunctivitis) require corneal transplants. See the JAMA, August 2006 for information about the fungal keratinitis outbreak of that year, or the medical literature on any the problems I just listed – you have a non-zero chance of losing an eye from wearing contacts.

    A bit more anecdotally, I do various combat sports, mostly involving hand weapons. I’ve engaged in full-contact competition for a little more than 35 years, and I still fight quite frequently. During that time, I’ve met dozens of people who have had various forms of eye surgery, including radial keratomy, PRK, Lasik, and lens replacement. None of them – zero, nada, none – have had any problems with their eyes that could not be corrected by follow-up surgery, and none of the Lasik or RK patients even needed that.

    During the same time period, I’ve seen people’s glasses get pulverized over and over again. This has usually involved lots of bleeding from the head, sometimes with trips to the hospital, and occasionally permanent scarring. Two of my friends have large scars across the bridges of their noses, and my father once had to sit patiently for several hours while small fragments of glass were painstakingly picked out of his eyeballs with tweezers (thankfully rare in these days of polycarbonate lenses, which merely slice their way into your head rather than shattering into your eyes). You have a non-zero chance of being maimed or disfigured by your glasses.

    So, wearing contacts can lead to vision loss or even disfigurment. Wearing glasses can lead to disfigurement or even vision loss. Any kind of surgery can lead to death, and any kind of eye surgery can lead to loss of vision. The odds of these things happening can be reduced to less than one percent by thinking persons who choose their actions carefully instead of relying on random chance. If you choose your eye surgeon carefully, keep your contacts and eyes clean, and watch where you put your noggin, you can be reasonably safe from these particular hazards, although you will still risk death or worse every single day unless you live in a skinner box locked inside a bomb shelter.

    Lisa, I hope this is something of an antidote to the ludicrous overstatements and unsubstantiated so-called “statistics” going on here (5 out of 8 government laser specialists wear glasses? I bet that person doesn’t even know a laser specialist). Life isn’t safe, nor should it be so. Neither is eye surgery. Weigh the risks and gains and good luck to you, whatever you choose!

  120. I had LASIK about ten years ago. Prior to the surgery both eyes had about 20/400 vision. I had four exams by three surgeons before settling on UCSF for their reputation. After the surgery I had 20/15 in both eyes. Contrary to the warnings of possible deterioration of night vision and reading vision, my night vision improved and I do not suffer from haloes around bright light sources. Reading vision improved very slightly.

    Because I wore soft contacts for many years, I was warned I might suffer from dry eyes and I do, but it has lessened over the last decade and is only noticeable at night.

    Not all of my astigmatism could be corrected and when I’m tired it’s more of a problem, but no worse than before the surgery.

    After ten years my sight has regressed slightly-I’d guess I’m around 20/20 to maybe 20/30 most of the time.

    I’ve felt I could be the poster boy for LASIK surgery, but I strongly advise anyone interested to get get several exams, over a period of at least six months. Go to the best surgeon you can find and don’t cut corners and save a few bucks. It’s your EYES we’re talking about!

  121. I don’t have the stamina to read through the 140 odd posts before this one, and I can’t imagine anyone else will either, so I fully expect this to go unread.

    I had LASIK surgery seven or eight years ago (and I’m nearly 31, so I had it pretty young/early) at a national chain (LasikPlus). I don’t think I spent more than $3,000 there, but I don’t recall. The bill was paid long ago.

    They did take detailed topographical maps of the curvature of my eye, and the laser they used was supposedly capable of adjusting to burn to different depths according to those maps. At the time, I don’t think the femtosecond laser cutter was available, so they did use a suction cup and a mechanical keratome to cut my cornea. While it was mostly assistants doing the prep work (making the topographical maps, etc), the head surgeon of the center was the one controlling the keratome when my eye was cut. I believe a tech of some sort pressed the button to operate the laser (which was, at that point, completely computer controlled).

    The visit to the center took maybe two hours, but I was only on the table for about thirty minutes, probably less. Oh, when the laser is operating, it smells like barbecue. Yummy.

    As far as my result goes…I had, in the Doctor’s words, “a near perfect result.” In one eye I achieved 20/20, on the other, better than 20/20. Seven or eight years later, I still have no problems. No light halos at night. I do tend to get a lot of eye strain, but I’ve noticed that that’s related to my (very poor) sleeping habits, and the amount of time I spend staring at LCDs (I’m on a PC at least 12 hours a day, and I’ve noticed that this has decreased when I installed NoSquint in Firefox and zoomed both the page layout and text size). My eyes are also a little dry now, but they were dry before, so I don’t think anything has changed there.

    In short: I highly recommend getting LASIK surgery. I have absolutely zero regrets. It was worth every penny.

    $6,000 is too much. Find somewhere else. Even somewhere else state-side should be cheaper.

    Most importantly though, get it soon. According to what they told me when I had my eyes done, the cornea starts hardening (losing its flexibility) after 40, and that can adversely affect your result.

    Oh, my aunt also had her eyes done at the same chain (but different Atlanta location) in 1998, IIRC. She has problems with dryness, but that’s easily solved. I believe her response too, 11 years later, would be to get LASIK again.

    For everyone complaining that there’s still not enough information about long-term side-effects, the first LASIK surgeries with modern techniques were performed nearly 20 years ago. Those people are still doing fine. And, as Lisa quotes, the FDA says 95%-99% (I commonly hear 99%+) of these procedures are complication free. Not only would my aunt and I both get LASIK again if we had the choice or need, I don’t think either of us would have any problem recommending the procedure to others, and indeed, we both have had coworkers take our recommendations and get the surgery themselves.

    I’m sure you’re tired of my rambling by now, so I’ll add one further comment and then hit submit.

    The Doctors will probably tell you to go home and take a nap for an hour or two after the surgery (and you’ll probably want to as I was so stressed out I was exhausted by the time it was over). DO NOT DO THIS. My eyes dried out while I was sleeping, and upon awaking, opening them felt like dragging sandpaper across them. Stay awake, and keep them moisturized. Other than this, I had absolutely no pain after my surgery. By the following morning, my eyes had recovered enough that I did not have this problem.

  122. My eyesight was terrible before, it’s perfect now. Do you know what a pain it is to scuba dive with a prescription mask? I had mine done by Dr. Coleman in Albuquerque. It was $3600, which we paid for with our reimbursement account. I chose Dr. Coleman because he does free adjustments for life if your vision changes in the future. He said he wasn’t afraid to turn someone away who was not a good candidate. Maybe if your eyesight isn’t that bad it might be a tougher choice, but I couldn’t see the alarm clock in the middle of the night. I do have some starbursting, but no worse than I had before the surgery. I had mine about 5 years ago now, and I would do it again. As far as price goes, I would probably pay $6000 for it if I had to, but I would look at going out of the area, depending on the net benefit.
    Another great thing about Dr. Coleman – If you are travelling in from out of town, they will put you up in a hotel for the night after for free. Some people can see well right after, it took me a couple of days before I felt comfortable driving.

  123. I’m at 5 and half years after almost 30 years of glasses and contacts. I couldn’t be happier. Nervous as hell doing it, if/when I have to go back, I will probably still be nervous. But it was the best thing ever. Liberating.

  124. My girlfriend’s mom had cataract surgery recently, and they replaced the lenses in both her eyes with artificial ones that didn’t need correction. I have no idea if that treatment is available for those who just want corrected vision but don’t already need eye syrgery for another reason, but if not I’ll wait till it is.

    Screw Lasik, I want my goddamn cybereyes.

    1. Jack: Where the hell can I get eyes like that?
      Riddick: Gotta kill a few people.
      Jack: ‘Kay, I can do it.
      Riddick: Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they tell you you’ll never see daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs.

    2. Screw LASIK, if I had a spare $6k laying around, I’d get phakic intraocular lenses implanted, like these:

      No more glasses, no more contacts, no chance of flap complications, and reversible. There are your cybereyes.

    3. I was lucky – at age 45, when I could no longer get clear vision with contacts, my new eye doctor discovered I had “oil drop” cataracts, and I had my lenses replaced. My right eye is corrected for distance and my left eye is corrected for reading. For various reasons, I was not informed of this until after my left eye was done (almost a year after the right eye). This may have made it easier to adjust, as I had no problems at all with the mono-vision. I understand that they do this operation for vision correction in Europe and they should do it here in the States as well. I can now see better than I ever have in my life! (I started wearing thick lensed glasses in nursery school).

  125. OK – having posted all that – my brother is an MD (and a lifelong glasses wearer) and when I asked him about the procedure and it’s safety, he just said, “Yeah, I looked into it and then I noticed that all the ophthalmologists I know wear glasses, including some who offer the service”

  126. I had the non-invasive surgery (radioactive keratonomy? I think someone mentioned it above- it can correct short-sightedness) in 1999. I don’t think I could have stomached getting my eyes cut into. As it happened this procedure was completely painless- you just stare into a light and it clicks for a few seconds. You have about three days of recovery time (per eye if you get them done separately, which I did) which can be painful. However, would I do it again if I was thrown back in time? Absolutely. I felt I was doing IMMENSE damage to my eyes shoving my fingers into them every morning, and I weighed the cost of contacts vs. the surgery and it paid itself off in less than two years. I now have 20/20 vision and don’t need to think about glasses or contacts until I get to that age when the eye starts naturally deteriorating- which would have happened anyway.

    Absolutely worth it if this option is available to you.

  127. @#79, I am pretty sure there were clinical trials for LASIK, despite it being a procedure rather than a drug. I did a lot of research before I got my eyes done, but my memory may be worse than my new vision.
    In 2000, I went from roughly 20/800 to 20/22. I can now see my alarm clock at night. I can see when SCUBA diving without a prescription mask. I can read the shampoo bottle in the shower. I don’t have to put on my glasses to find my glasses.
    I recommend it. Yes, it’s expensive (and $6K seems extra-high), and yes, you need to do research on the doctor and clinic. The place I went (in WI) does free “lifetime touchups,” although I haven’t needed any.
    For me, it was a quality of life issue. My optometrist suggested it when I was about 17 (“When your eyes settle down, you’ll be a great candidate for laser surgery…”), and he was not affiliated with any surgeon or clinic. Of course I was worried about possible side effects, but I did my homework and made a personal decision.
    My eyes were really bad. I would have been the first one to die in a horror/action/zombie/dinosaur movie. Now at least I have a fighting chance to shoot them in the head first.

  128. Lasik: is it worth $6000?

    Yes. Yes it is. But I did pay less. However this is not an area for bargain hunting. Find the very best surgeon you can afford. After all its you FRIKKEN EYES.

    I had worn glasses or contacts from age 10 until age 38. then I had lasik done at Barnett-Delany in Phoenix who happen to be some of the best in the biz. I did my research, talked to several doctors, spent some time seriously considering it, and decided it was worth the marginal risk.
    That was three years ago and I couldn’t be happier with my new 20/15 vision. I paid about $3000

  129. look into ortho k contacts. you wear them every other night to bed, take them out in the morning. Same effect as lasik but not permanent. also way cheaper

  130. Does anyone have any information about getting the procedure done if you’re over 50? Would the natural deterioration of vision with aging make the benefits relatively short-lived?

    1. Doug Nelson, from what I have been told, since your corneas have started to lose their elasticity, you still have a chance at getting perfect vision for most tasks, but, you may POSSIBLY require glasses for driving, and almost certainly for reading. If you read my post above, I mentioned a coworker getting LASIK on my recommendation. He was 55 years old and had LASIK about two years ago. He needs glasses for reading, but other than that, his vision is great now. Last I spoke to him, he was very happy that he elected to have the surgery.

  131. It is totally worth going to a place that has your eyes as a priority over their wallets!

    I was at a reputable laser clinic with the surgery apron on and drops already in my eyes waiting for surgery, when the head doctor came in and explained that they didn’t want to go ahead with the operation because I had corneas that are too thin.

    He told me that the procedure would work, but there was no way to know for how long. He said it might be years, it might be months or possibly only weeks before the cornea could slip and wrinkle causing my vision to worsen.

    I was thankful for their honesty. A cheap clinic wouldn’t have had the equipment to recognize this condition, and probably would have cut me anyway leaving me with a lifetime of eye problems.

    I’m sticking with contacts! BTW-Check out Proclear for your contact needs. They are excellent!

  132. When I started dating my girlfriend, she had to wear glasses or contacts to see my face in bed. Her vision was -11 in one eye, and -12.5 in the other. Her eyes started to get ulcerations due to wearing the contacts -all- the time (snowboarding, scuba diving, hiking, camping, working out, tough to wear foggy glasses…). She took out money in pre-tax dollars in flex spending, and blew the whole lot on a 6000 dollar surgery in Boston. Her vision is now better than mine even when I’m wearing my glasses. 20/15 good. There is risk, we were nervous, but we’re totally glad she did it.

  133. I asked my optomologist a few years back how soon there would be coke dispenser sized machines on the street where one could stick their head and a fistfull of 20’s to get corrective surgery. He said 10 years.

  134. “Flap” and “eyeball” do not belong in the same sentence.

    Nobody is burning holes in my eyes until the long term effects are understood. So you go right ahead. This longitudinal study needs more participants.

  135. I had Lasik over the summer and besides the typical fluctuating eyesight and night halos that are now almost gone, it’s been great. I got the operation after a decade of glasses I was just growing tired of and contacts were something I just can’t stand.

    I will say that the operation is not as quick and painless as they make it out to be, at least when they don’t use lasers to make the flaps. Sure, your eyes are numbed up, but then a machine with a suction cup comes down and presses on your eye so hard you black out in that eye for 30 seconds while a little saw cuts the flap. Not exactly pleasant.

    And this was all literally a week after I had robotic surgery on my kidney. Robots and lasers, woo hoo, it’s the future!!!

  136. Three is a (more expensive) alternative to LASIK and PRK, particularly if you have thin corneas and want monovision. That’s intraocular eye surgery.

    It’s essentially the same as a cataract operation, but with a corrective lens put in. Cataract operations are one of the most common operations there are, with lots of people over 70 needing to have it done. The risk? As far as I understand, like with any operation, it’s mostly around post-operative infection.

    You have one eye done and then the other eye done a week or two later.

    The operation takes about 15 minutes, but there’s another two hours of pre- and post- operation. The most uncomfortable part is the anaesthetic. It is like someone pushing a finger into your cheek at the botton of your eyeball. You’re awake during the operation, although the anaesthetic means you can’t see out of your eye (no, you don’t see the surgeon hovering over you with a big needle or a laser). It’s just black. You don’t feel anything either, apart from any water (or iodine) that might trickle off the sheet onto your neck or shoulder. You hear quite a lot – strange machines that give audio feedback on the pressure of the fluid inside your eye. It’s like a radio that’s out of tune.

    Post operation, you have an your eye feels “gritty” for about 8 hours. You have an eye patch on for about 12 hours. You take it off (usually in the morning) and you can see. The eye is red for a few days, and it takes a couple of hours for the dilation to sort itself out.

    If you search on YouTube for “Artisan lens” or “intraocular surgery” you can see videos of the operation itself. Although they are clips of things being done to an eyeball, I found them very reassuring.

  137. I had lasik done in Japan, about $3500 bucks at the current exchange rate but a better bargain in 2007.
    Thailand offers lasik surgeries ($1000) as well. i got a lifetime guarantee in japan and thailand offers the same, why not use the money saved to recuperate in style?

  138. Yes 10 years for me as well. I opted for a more expensive surgery and it was worth it as the aftercare was excellent. I had an eye problem 8 years later which turned out to be unrelated and nothing in the end and he saw me again and with no charge. These are your eyes, it’s worth spending a little bit more to get a professional.

  139. I did mine about 1 1/2 years ago at The Curve and so far there is little complaint. I did only one eye so that I can read with my untreated eye and see distant objects with the other.

    I have myopia and been wearing glasses for more than 20 years and I must tell you that it was a great relieve to no longer having to wear them.

    As you’ve mentioned, I was also presented with a tiered pricing. And silly me, thinking that I’ll go for the best and chose the most expensive option that cost me more than RM5000 on just one eye. It was the usual oversell and underdeliver kind of thing.

    By this I mean, the doctor claimed that with the more expensive option, there will be no “helo” effect after the surgery. This is absolutely not the case for me. The helo is worse on the treated eye than the untreated eye.

    Well the doctor was a good salesman.

    If I have to do it again, I just chose the cheaper option which at that time costed less than RM2000.

    Cheers and hope you will go ahead and do the lasik.
    Visit About Malaysia for quick facts and interesting information about Malaysia.

  140. I had Lasik in 1998 and haven’t regretted it. Life without my thick, heavy, easily-fogged-up glasses is so much better.

  141. I had Lasik done ten years ago, and I’m so glad that I did! The procedure was uncomfortable, but quick. I love not having to deal with glasses or contact lenses!

  142. This is something I have been looking into even before Lasik. I was hoping to get my eyes done with the older procedure where they make the surgical cuts on the eyes to correct the vision. This was before lasers. My doctor, Dr. Sigband, told me to wait.

    Well I’m still waiting. I’ve had glasses since 3rd grade and I probably needed them sooner. Because of my eyes I’ve never been able to wear contacts. I would love to have the surgery and to never have to wear glasses ever again.

    As for glasses being cheaper? Have you bought glasses lately? Over a 10 year period at my current pair of glasses price, it’s pretty much even price with Lasik at the $6000 mark.

    One day to be able to wake up and open my eyes and to never have to reach for that pair of glasses on my desk after almost 40 years of glasses…that will be priceless.

    I’m still waiting though.

    1. I paid less than $150 CAD altogether for my frames and lenses. Still wearing them after two years, probably will for at least another year before I decide I want new frames for purposes of vanity.

      I do understand it is more expensive for those with more complex prescriptions. My father is 52 and has always had awful vision; his get-up altogether cost about $300, with titanium frames. I suppose I can imagine it could be more for people with vastly inferior vision.

      All the same, I’m frequently appalled by how much people pay for glasses. I often pay half what my peers do. There are many online retailers that sell quite good quality frames and lenses for even less than what I pay.

      Advice: Is there an Asian/Chinese mall near you? It’s almost certainly CHOCK full of glasses retailers. I guarantee it; the place I went to had eight stores. The competition is very stiff. Always bargain; never buy at their “full price.”

  143. My doctor says my pupils are too big for lasik as the technology currently stands. (I’d get horrible haloed night-vision.)

    I currently wear 30-day extended wear lenses. They’re made from a material that’s slippery like teflon, so the usual dirt doesn’t stick like it would to old school lenses. I just need cleaning drops twice a day.

    Honestly, I’ve never been happier with a pair of lenses in my life.

  144. Just get monthly contacts. I’m from Europe and I use B&L PureVision and only have to change them once a month, no washing, nothing. With toric lenses you can even use them if you have astigmatism. I was seriously considering lasik too, but now I consider it just a waste of money (unless you are a pilot or something).

  145. It’s funny reading all this. I feel waves of emotion.

    I have worn glasses on and off since I was in fourth grade. I was pretty darn nearsighted. I’m in my early fifties now. I’ve worn glasses, worn contact lenses. Until the last couple of years, they were sufficient to correct my vision to 20/20.

    I did look into Lasik about ten years ago. Even made the appointment. I canceled it two days before it was scheduled. I fretted. I went diving with a woman who had the surgery and her eyes were dry and she was pretty unhappy. I was fretting and I realized I was worried about my eyesight. So I decided not to do it. A few years later I needed glasses to read, so it was like I would have been glasses free. All pretty normal stuff, so far.

    But about two years ago I got floaters in my right eye. When I went to the doctor, he noticed there were bare spots in my retinas. I went from specialist to specialist. Upshot? I have a rare form of a rare genetic disorder called Sector Retinitis Pigmentosa. My retinas are going bye-bye and there really isn’t much to be done about. Not fun. Scary. I’ve won one of those unhappy lotteries. It happens.

    The doctors told me the progress would be slow, but it is proceeding faster than expected. I really have no idea what to do. Such is life.

    But to those of you who find glasses a bother, who think not being about to read the clock at night until you grab your glasses from your nightstand is a hassle, take a minute and be glad you have your eyesight. Glasses are wonderful. Contact lenses are a small miracle.

    When I was getting tested at this specialist clinic up in Boston, the office was filled with young boys. The garden-variety form of RP is more likely in boys that girls. It hits early, but you can’t really do the testing on toddlers. You have to wear special contact lenses that have wires leading out of them. You have to sit in total darkness for a couple of hours. On the upside, the testing gear gives you a light show so nifty that you rather wish they’d play some cuts from Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies album while you took it.

    But what the doctor told me that day was that I was lucky, that these boys would never see a star, had never seen a star. All things are relative. I can’t imagine how I am going to survive when I go blind. But I have seen stars and coral reefs and deserts and mountains. I’ve seen thirty-foot surf and waterspouts and thunderstorms.

    So just be glad you can see. Get good glasses if you can afford them. Try different contact lenses if the ones you have bother you. The Proclears are awesome. If you do wear lenses, don’t be sloppy with the way you take care of them and you’ll be happier and healthier.

    We aren’t perfect, life isn’t perfect. That’s okay. I guess I am voting against the Lasik. Take care of your eyes and enjoy all the wonders that you can see.

  146. Depending on the complexity of your specific needs, the costs here in Ottawa,ON Canada — in a PRIVATE clinic — can be less than $1000CAD for both eyes. It is a common surgery here and clearly worth it based on cost-benefit analysis when you factor in the costs for glasses or lenses and solutions.

  147. I’m almost 8 years post-LASIK, and I’m one of the 95-99% complication-free outcomes. I was moderately (-5.25 diopter) nearsighted, and the pre-procedure testing showed I was an ideal candidate (and I had the Doctor explain WHY).

    I went in thinking that going 10 years totally glasses-free (I’ll need reading glasses someday) would make the procedure totally worthwhile, but even if I could just drive or bike without glasses but needed glasses to read, I’d accept that.

    Any voluntary eye procedure isn’t to be taken lightly. In the end, each person has to determine his own risk and his tolerance for that risk. In my case, I was a good candidate, I took the risk, and I’m glad every day that I did.

  148. I had it done ten years ago at the same clinic where Tiger Woods had his Lasik. My vision was corrected to 20/15 and is still 20/15. Never a moments problem, best $5k I ever spent.

    I do know a moron who shopped around on price and picked the cheapest “surgeon” he could find. His poor judgment ruined his eyes.

  149. I had my eyes done 2 years ago, cost 4,000, in Okla. My eyes get dry sometimes (never did before), and i see halos at night, although not as bad as when eyes where first done. Had glasses from age 13 and I would do Lasik again for 3 times that price. Everyone has their own personal price they’d pay to get ride of glasses. I was fully warned of the risks by the Dr and told up front that my eyes may be prone to dryness afterword. Go with a good Dr, who does his own surgery.

    No regrets

  150. I’ve wanted to do this forever but the idea of being the one out of 5000 “unsuccessful” operations just scares the piss out of me. I could imagine life after say, losing a limb, my hearing, or even a few internal organs… but not my eyes.

  151. I had PRK (similar to Lasik) a few years ago for $4,000 (not covered by insurance) and it is without a doubt the best $$ I ever spent! I agree with a prior poster that I wish I could have s/t done about unrelated problems associated with aging, but alas… I do need brighter light for reading (and was advised that this may happen), but it was ABSOLUTELY worth the trade-off. Had been wearing contacts for over 20 years, and was just fed up. My vision was HORRIBLE (20/400), so I was basically blind without corrective lenses.

  152. I enjoy the option of several pairs of eyeglasses. I can change my style completely with a pair of eyeglasses. Even though I am fully dependent on them for clear vision, I can count on being able to see 20/20 with them. Should I choose to have lasik and become part of the 5% that have “complications” that option will be gone forever. I’m not willing to take that risk-with anything that is as important to me as my vision.

  153. I have been nearsighted(doctors wouldn’t even quantify the 20/whatver for me, I’m not sure they could) with astigmatism since I was very young, first glasses at nine and contacts at fifteen.

    I used to compare my vision using my glasses to watching a movie, and using contacts to watching the same movie in Imax. Then I got LASIK, and it was like stepping outside the theater for the first time.

    That was seven years ago and I haven’t had a single regret. However, I do have a friend who got the surgery and now has to use eye drops for the rest of her life and she regretted having done it.

    My advice would be that if you really don’t mind your glasses then keep using them, but if you don’t like them then get the surgery.

  154. Here’s the trick….you Flex the money for Lasik then get it in January…once done you quit your job and the loophole is that you dont have to pay the Flex back…assuming you dont like your job, that’s nearly free Lasik….look into it people :-)

  155. I just got two pairs of glasses, not name brand but still stylish, for $70 including a free eye exam. I can understand that some people hate glasses, I hate contacts, but to me this is a best solution.

  156. i had lasik, went well, both eyes good now.
    when trying to find out more about the surgery, i tried to research the real optical effects of the operation on the eye. i’ve studied optics and physics, so i ended up asking quite specific questions from the doctors and engineers handling the machines.
    the thing is that i’m an astronomer, and i like looking at stars. stars are what us scientists call “tiny points of light on a dark background”, so naturally i’d like to see them as such, with as little distortion as possible. every eye, and indeed every optical system distorts the image of a point in a specific way, and this transformation is called “the point-spread-function” (PSF) of the system. so when you look at a distant streetlight in the night, you don’t see a tiny spot, but a star-shape that spreads out from the light source.
    i asked the doctors if they could make the PSF in my eyes as small as possible, to which they replied that they’d never heard of it, neither had the engineers, who knew about diffraction and seemed like ok guys.
    so i went anyway, got lasered, don’t need glasses anymore, but the PSF is now slightly bigger than it used to be. so i can’t see the stars as well as i used to.
    it’s not a big difference, but…

    1. You’ll be glad to know that the researchers who developed and continue improving wavefront correction, modeling and measurement do know about PSFs. Though they (and I) more often work with Zernike Polynomials which, from what I understand from pure optics people, are like Bessel functions. There is a transform for converting from Zernike’s to PSFs, which I’ve often used when generating a convolution kernel based on a Zernike wavefront. Adaptive optics found in telescopes shares many of the techniques, with (I’m not sure) a slightly different set of functions.

      If you’d like to learn more, a good technical reference (its sitting on my desk) is the book “Wavefront Customized Visual Correction: The Quest for Super Vision II” by Ronald Krueger, Raymond Applegate and Scott MacRae.

  157. Do Not consider lasik if you have dry eye to start. I always had a problem with contacts and could not wear the because of it but dry eye was never a diagnosis back then and when my dr who I consulted with to do the surgery said I had dry eye and should do some drops and ointment and come back in I had no idea what a pain and hassle the lasik would be, Should have known when he just assumed I was going to have the surgery and silly me thought hiss good referrals from several friends and a high faloutan degree was enough to qualify him as knowing what he was doing,especially since his early invention led to a lasik machine. However, my eyes are so dry all the time I could by new glasses every few months for the money I spend on over the counter and prescribed drops. It runs about$100+ every three months. So lasik is wonderful but not for those with dry eye and you still need glasses if you are over 40.

  158. Game theory.

    I’m -6 Rx, I’ll spare you the specific details. For the last few years I’ve worked as an optician and lens maker.

    I’m not getting Lasic any time soon.

    No, I won’t expose “Horror Stories” or “Corrupt Doctors” etc. It really is very safe and I’m being cautious for personal reasons. Nor, btw, am I afraid of it taking my livelihood away. That will be “RetroViral” therapy, which is at best 20 years for “Human Guinea Pig” and 30-40 years for “As safe as Lasic is now”, I’ll have retired long before then. Your eyes are bad (as are mine) because of the roll of the genetic dice so if you cut them, they’ll slowly heal themselves. Some people can toss glasses by Lasic, but not everyone. But the risk, however small, is a risk.

    I’m nowhere near “Legally Blind” but if I have the surgery and it botches, I’m effectively Legally Blind. Since you can get glasses dirt cheap if you know what you are doing, and I can even MAKE them in a pinch, I prefer to rely on my collection of corrective vision devices. I’d resolved if my eyes ever got to the ‘near legally blind’ range I’d risk the surgery. But, recent check ups I’m stabilizing at last!

  159. I did a bunch of research when I got my LASIK surgery 5 years ago. Drove to Vancouver from Seattle and got both eyes done by one of the best eye surgeons in north america, David T.C. Lin, for $900CAD. Best $$$ I’ve ever spent. I couldn’t be happier. The procedure itself only took a few min. per eye. Truly amazing! My surgery was waveguided, they mapped the entire eye, and done by the head surgeon. $6000 seems high to pay for something you could get for much less at the same quality. (Pacific Laser Eye Center)

  160. I had it done about five years ago and it failed in my left eye, which is my dominant eye, literally overnight. All of a sudden, I was seeing haloes around lights and had poor distance vision. Now I need a contact lens, {which is exceedingly irritating to my eye and makes me look like I have chronic conjunctivitis} glasses for distance, and glasses for reading.

    I’m really concerned that this is not the end of age related vision changes and failures. I was so happy for the first five years, but I don’t think I would do it again.

  161. You should talk again to Manche and Rubinfeld and ask them for statistics. Not just statistics about their practice, but statistics that show their more expensive techniques are better than the many quoted here. Basically, they generally aren’t – they just are more expensive. Since laser surgery has been around now for 20 years (the last 10 have been relatively safe), with more than 18 million completed surgeries, the ‘R&D’ costs for the basic procedure are ancient history, and the opportunity to innovate on efficiency has spread.

  162. I too know several people who’ve been laser-corrected and still need glasses. What’s worse, they can’t wear contacts due to having had the surgery. To me, the nuisance, discomfort, and cost of contacts is minimal when weighed against the value of an irreplaceable organ.

  163. I never hear of any discussion about how laser eye surgery accounts for changes in eye shape as one ages. I know that most of the people I know who have had it have ended up with glasses again within 5 years. Or worse, having to wear glasses as they can no longer wear contacts.

    I’d like to see a proper scientific study on sustained success over 1, 2, 5, 10 years etc. Until then, I’ll stick with my Accuvues – my short sightedness is reducing steadily as I age, and my lens prescription is trivial to change.


  164. $6000 is way too expensive for Lasik. I personally paid $2000 and yes it was a very reputable place. I ended up with 20/20 vision and have had zero problems. Unless you have six eyes I would pass on that particular doc!

  165. 11 years ago. Worked great! Yeah, I should have gone to Canada. Besides the cost, at that time better machines were available there.

    The procedure scared the crap out of me. I was shaking. I told them I was afraid that I’d suddenly and involuntarily jump up and run. They said, no you’ll be ok and gave me a teddy bear (with an eye-patch, of course) to hug!

    Before, if I didn’t know where my glasses were, I couldn’t find them. Then went to near 20/20. BIG change. No more glasses!

  166. Best thing I’ve ever done. Definitely worth it. Went to happy hour after a 4-hour nap and had 20/20 vision. It’s like magic. Used Dr. Hyver in the Bay Area. Have friends who have used Manche with great results too.

  167. I like my glasses. I’ve had a long and productive relationship with them. If they break, I can fix them with electrical tape, and… Get off my lawn!

    Now when I can swap out eyes for every occasion I’ll be happy to reconsider.

  168. Being as I pretty much have one good eye (I can see with both, but one is dominant due to ambliopia in the other) my eye doc says I’m better off with glasses – not just due to that 5% risk of failure, but also because having physical eye protection at all times isn’t a bad thing. I have two young boys at home and I think he has a point – I’ve had more than one object or finger bounce of my glasses when I wasn’t expecting it.

    OTOH a buddy of mine had it done and LOVES it. Me, I’m too chicken.

  169. I’ve been considering eye surgery of some kind for over a decade, but for the moment I’m on the side of “No surgery”. This may change again in another few years of course, I keep waffling.

    I’m legally blind without my glasses. With my glasses, I do not get 20/20 vision, but it’s “good enough” for my sedentary lifestyle. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 6, and I actually have deformations in the bones behind my ears the shape of eyeglass arms.

    I’ve worn contacts intermittently, but with my allergies I get itchy watery eyes and contacts just sort of pop out of my eyes when I have an attack (which is about 8 months of the year now).

    My depth perception with my glasses is absolutely terrible – I’m sort of surprised they let me get a drivers license, to be honest. Because of my perscription, I basically have to turn my entire head to look at things that aren’t in the roughly 15 degree arc directly in front of me – I can more or less read a book or use a computer without moving my head a lot, but even then I tend to do a fair amount of turning, and anything bigger requires a lot of head bobbing.

    Even having improved but not perfect vision is ATTRACTIVE – just having enough vision that I can squint and find my glasses would be an incredible improvement in quality of life, and reducing the distortion imposed by my glasses on the universe would be amazing.

    But for the moment, I’ve decided I’m not going to do it.

    I work at a company where the CEO is blind (less than 1% vision), and where two of my co-workers are profoundly blind. We’re in the braille, large print, and voice dictation document industry.

    I actually find the ability to take off my glasses and “become” legally blind an asset in my daily work – I am my own special needs tester for the large-format market.

    More philosophically, I’m reminded on a daily basis how much sight I actually have, and how bad it can get. I’m in the weird position of being close enough to the edge that I desperately don’t want it to get any worse.

  170. I agree, i had my done 6 years ago. The best decision ever made… Although mine cost me $3500…

    think about it, if u r a designer / photographer ask your Lasik Doctor if they need your services in exchange. ;) just might get yourself a discount…

  171. Not sure. I think it’s worth $1200 to $1500.

    Being able to see when you wake up in the morning is good. Especially if you’re not alone. I don’t have to tell you how nice it is not to have to stick your fingers in your eyes, not to have to wait for the mirror to unfog after the shower to put your eyes in. Etc.

    But there’s a down side. You’ll need glasses to drive at night, because you just won’t see very well in low light. You’ll never be able to make a move without your reading glasses, because the correction you get from surgery won’t give you adequate close-up vision. And I bet that, like me, you’ll wind up spending a bunch of money on special bifocals that enable you to use a computer while reading (or writing) text on your desk. And no matter how much they cost, they won’t really work very well.

    Shop around. Talk to people who’ve had it done. There’s no hurry.

  172. How expensive is the LASIK procedure?
    This will vary from COUNTRY to COUNTRY . India it will on an average between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000. The Zyoptix or the customized LASIK procedure would cost anywhere between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 36,000. In the USA the procedure costs close to Rs. 2 lakhs

  173. Short answer: yes, get the procedure.

    Long answer: I got it done about 10 years ago, was one of the best choices I ever made. I was living in the Bay area and a sibling informed me of a clinic near Vancouver BC that had a special : I think it was $1000 per eye with a guarantee. Even with the train to Seattle, the shuttle bus to Vancouver, and the Vancouver hotel for 2 nights, it was a good deal compared to what they were charging in the US at that time. The procedure had been legal in Canada for some time, whereas the US had only recently allowed it.

    I even had some complications that forced me to return a second time for a do-over of the procedure. I was experiencing “halos” around light sources (such as street lights at night) and some blur. But even after that complication, I was happy with the final result.

    At first I was amazed, now I barely remember the experience of wearing glasses. I can swim laps, surf, wake up, without groping for and worrying about my facial medical equipment.

  174. Learn The Bates Method instead. PROVE IT WITH THE EXERCISE BELOW

    It is much cheaper, no side effects, no risk of halos, infections or needing glasses again a few years later. Remember, even if the rate of infection is 1 in 10,000 if you are the one, then for you it is 100%.

    Yes the Bates Method, or one of the newer versions based on it, does work. You can find people teaching it all over the USA. It is common in England. It is not common here yet, but they are out there. People in their 70’s have gone from trifocal glasses back to 20/20 vision.

    It is not mis-shaped lenses, it is mis-calibrated brain/muscle co-ordination that caused fuzzy vision, including astigmatism. It is all from stored tension in the eyes. Bates did extensive research and demonstrated this almost 100 years ago. I will not go into that here, you can find out about it online.

    I went from Trifocals back to single lenses in a few weeks and passed my drivers license, and still improving.

    20 minutes of practice a day will usually do it in a few months.

    PROOF EXERCISE. This shows that it is brain/muscle control and can be re-learned.

    On a day when you wake up and your eyes are not strained from the day before, or high stress dreams/nightmares, do this procedure.

    1. Select a newspaper headline you can not read at arms length with your glasses removed. Fold and tape the newspaper, or cut it out and glue it to a piece of heavy paper or cardboard. Bring it with you. Leave your glasses behind.

    2. Sit in a small room or walk in closet that can be made TOTALLY dark:
    __A. No outside windows.
    __B. A solid door that can be firmly shut and light sealed with a towel at the bottom
    __C. An easy to access light switch to an incandescent bulb.
    __D. Bring a small non-illuminated egg timer and set it for 15 minutes.
    __E. Study where the light is and how to hold the newspaper for it to be well lit.

    3. Sit in the TOTALL darkness until the timer goes off. This relaxes the eye muscles.

    4. Hold the “unreadable” newspaper at arms length in front of you with one hand.

    5. Flick the light switch on back off as fast as you can with your other hand, create a short pulse of light.

    6. The newspaper will be very readable. Sharp and clear.

    7. Rest you eye in darkness, then repeat the light pulse until you are very sure of
    what you are seeing each time you pulse the light.

    8. Finally, look at the newspaper and turn the light on and this time leave it on. You
    will see it start out clear and then go blurry as your brain starts trying to focus.

    Interesting point: It is (or was at least) illegal to posses an eye chart in California if you are not a licensed optometrist. It is considered de-facto proof that you are practicing optometry without a license. It has been used to harass the people teaching the Bates eye exercises.

    Bigger Mind Boggling Brain-Hack Point: Ultimately the Bates method proves the Buddha was right, “The world is created in your mind.” Most humans live inside the illusion that their vision is like a real time video camera showing them the world as it is “really” happening. The truth is that our eyes are very slow and we are looking at a mental image created from our memory of the objects we are seeing. Like cache memory for a web browser. That small spot on the retina that can see clearly can scan much less that 1% of our field of vision per second. It finds enough identifying marks to load the stored images as needed.

    If anyone has serious questions about Bates Method contact me at
    Hopkins(underscore)Douglas(underscore)Boing(at)(“The Big Y”)(dot)com


  175. I’d love it.. except that I’ve got OD -11, OS -10ish — which means I’ve got a much higher chance of experiencing the joy of retinal detachment. As much as it would be nice to not have to worry about contacts, I’m going to have to wait until Zeiss is ready to sell me a set of whatever Batoh is wearing.

  176. i got mine done several years ago in okc by dr john belardo

    i think 800.00 an eye best thing i ever did no more bifocals ( yes i got my distance and near vision at same time fixed)

  177. 3 years ago I had “custom lasik” (wavefront) at the UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center ( and I could not be happier with the care and result and it cost me $4500 at the time (their prices may have changed).

    I have 20/15 vision or better every day and would do it again in a second.

    Many halo and night vision problems are caused by a smaller corrected area. As Lasik has become more advanced, the corrected area has expanded from 3.5mm to about 7mm with the newest wavefront lasik (which is what I had).

    My doctor explained all this to me, and while I was worried about it to begin with, he also said that the corrective area of contact lenses is 6mm, so my field of view, etc would be exactly the same as my contacts (which I was happy with).

    With all the research that you’ve done, I’m sure you’ve looked at the pros/cons of blades vs. laser slicing for the flap. I know a lot of surgeons prefer the blade method because it is more reliable and “cleaner.”

    I would highly recommend getting it. After 15 years of glasses and contacts, seeing without them is a revelation.

  178. Very thorough, informative article. I did not know, for instance, that technology of the computer controlled laser was first used by IBM to make etchings onto computer chips!

    However, your cost estimate for Lasik seems a little high to me. The the average cost of Lasik is about 1000 dollars per eye for standard Lasik and around $2000+ per eye for procedures like Wavefront Lasik. The price, therefore, can vary highly depending on which surgery you’re getting, and it is important to keep in mind that just because, for example, the older version of Lasik is cheaper, doesn’t mean that it is not more appropriate for you simply due to the condition of your eyes; i.e., some people will have better results with the older version than the newer.

    Regardess, once again, excellent article.


Comments are closed.