Budget LASIK centers — and why you shouldn’t trust your eyes to just anyone. We’ve all seen those advertisements in the local newspaper or magazine that advertise LASIK surgery “as low as $799” per eye. Or maybe it was someone wearing a gorilla suit and a hand-made sandwich board at your local strip mall. It may sound like a good deal … but do you really know what you’re getting when you go to a LASIK “budget center”?
Several years ago in Southern California, budget LASIK centers started advertising LASIK at rock-bottom prices. Many of those centers went bankrupt within 1-2 years year, but a few managed to survive. According to Market Scope, an ophthalmology research company, less than 3% of LASIK practices charge $1000 or less per eye. In addition, they tack on different charges for astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and enhancements. In other words, almost no one qualifies for the “low, low price.” In order to advertise a low base rate, these budget centers will cut corners on exams, use outdated technology, and provide little to no follow-up care. Many of the doctors tend to be young or inexperienced; you may not even know who is performing your surgery until the day of your procedure. Most importantly, they don’t invest the time or resources needed to track patient outcomes, and as a result are unable to provide any documented visual studies or success rates.
Unfortunately, people who opt for “discount” LASIK are often dissatisfied with their results. In some cases, the damage caused by inexperienced surgeons or outdated technology may be irreparable.
If you or one of your family members needed brain surgery, you wouldn’t call around to find out who offers the lowest price for brain surgery, would you? You would want the best surgeon available — one with the most experience and best reputation you could find. So why would you treat your eyes any differently? If you’ve worn glasses or contacts for any length of time, you know that you can’t put a price on clear vision. When it comes to LASIK surgery, finding a surgeon with extensive experience and clear, documented success rates is key.
If you are seriously considering LASIK, don’t be swayed by promises of low prices. No matter where you go, don’t be afraid to ask about documented results, the technology used, the experience of the surgeon, and the number of procedures personally performed. Remember, the success of your procedure will be a direct result of the quality and experience of the surgeon and LASIK facility you choose. You only have one set of eyes — don’t take any chances with them.