My LASIK Experience (Part 1)

After years of considering LASIK surgery, I have finally decided to go for it. Most of us cringe at the idea of having a laser in the eye, but many have had the surgery done with fantastic results.

I started wearing glasses when I was 3 years old, and I switched to contacts when I was 15 after my glasses broke during a football game (no joke). Since then, I’ve worn contacts around 360 days a year. Obviously, I am just used to glasses and contacts.

2nd Grade Trent - Notice the sweet glasses

2nd Grade Trent – Notice the sweet glasses

Why LASIK?

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to wake up and be able to see.  Or not have to spend the time taking them out at night. Contacts especially become an annoyance when traveling. While backpacking in South America, I had very little stuff to carry, but it was necessary to carry a good sized bottle of contact solution along with my glasses, glasses case, extra contacts, and contact case. Don’t even get me started on dealing with contacts while camping. There is nothing worse than taking them out in the dark or having to maneuver around the tent to put them in after waking up.

As a finance guy, I had to see how long the surgery would pay itself back with money saved on contacts, contact solution, etc. If it makes financial sense AND improves my life, then it would be a no-brainer. The surgery will cost $2,400 total, and I typically spend about $300 per year in contacts and solution. That means this will take 8 years to make this financially neutral. Assuming the surgery goes well, this is very feasible. Other than the small risk in the surgery, there is no reason not to do this.

Researching the Best Option

For any procedure, it’s worth shopping around to find the right doctor. Luckily, it’s easy to quickly search for LASIK surgeons in the area. I decided on three basic criteria to narrow down my search:

1) Small, Local Office

I wanted to have the initial eye exam and surgery in the same office. There are very large institutions who contract the initial eye exam to other doctors, and the surgery is with a completely different doctor. For example, one office was listed in Dubuque, IA (45 miles west), and I found the actual surgery would be in Brookfield, WI (120 miles northeast). I did not feel comfortable with this. I want the doctor who is reshaping my cornea to be more than some large, faceless institution.

2) References

One reference from a friend can mean the world. It would be scary to go into LASIK surgery without any information other than direct contact with the clinic. Anyone can have a great appearance on their website and on the phone, but that says nothing about their ability to make the client see without contacts. Knowing just one person who has had a positive experience adds much more credibility.

3) Competitive price

Prices ranged dramatically, anywhere from $199 per eye up to $2,500 per eye. After researching, I found that most independent doctors doing the normal LASIK procedure had similar pricing, in the $1,000-$1,250 per eye range. The most expensive procedures were iLASIK, which is that they call “blade-less”. It’s used with newer technology and is twice the price of normal LASIK, ranging from $2,000-$2,500 per eye. I researched extensively trying to find if iLASIK was really worth the extra price. Surprisingly, it was extremely difficult to find any non-biased information comparing the two. What I did find was a comment saying, “If the doctor is horrible, neither procedure will be worthwhile.” In the end, I decided normal LASIK to be the best option.

The Decision

I decided on Dr. Yavitz in Rockford, Illinois, for a total price of $2,400. I’ll have the surgery tomorrow early afternoon. I’m excited, as I’ve been wearing glasses for the past month. Since I still have the same glasses from early high school, they are pretty far out of style and it’s hard to be seen in public with them. However, it’ll be worth the social agony after the surgery is done.

At the moment, I am not too nervous. I imagine I’ll be very nervous the hour or two before the surgery. I hear they give you Valium before the surgery, so I suppose that’s something to look forward to. Expect a full report on the surgery after my eyes heal, assuming I can still see after they cut open a flap on my eye and reshape my cornea. Gotta love science!

This is Part 1 of My LASIK Experience. Click here to see Part 2.

About Trent

I started Frugal Purpose to share my love of personal finance to assist your pursuit of a more fulfilling life. I am a financial analyst by trade, traveler at heart, and want to share with you the beauty of this world.

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