Consumer Watch: Five things to know before getting LASIK

There are five things to be aware of before getting a LASIK procedure. In this file photo a patient has LASIK eye surgery. Photo courtesy: USAF / MGN

The majority of Americans need vision correction, and a growing number of people are ditching their eyewear and opting for surgery. The outpatient eye procedure only takes minutes and can have lifelong positive changes, but it's not for everyone and it comes at a significant cost.

The procedure itself is not gruesome and takes just minutes. Dr. Chris Freeman is the clinical director at nJoy Vision, and says there have been great strides in vision correction procedures.

"We have gone from the blade Lasik days to now, all laser LASIK, which has very safe outcomes and very good vision outcomes as well," says Freeman.

Here are the top five things to know before getting LASIK:

  1. LASIK is not for everyone. However, most people are good candidates. An ophthalmologist or refractive surgeon will be able to tell you if you would be a good fit for the procedure. There are other procedures that are possible if you are not a LASIK candidate looking to improve your vision.
  2. The success rate is high. The FDA says 90-percent of people end up with 20/20 or better vision, and downtime is minimal. "Usually patients are fine to do most of what they want to do the very next day. Vision is very good early on with LASIK. Most patients are surprised how well they see even the night of surgery," says Freeman.
  3. There are some risks. Dr. Luke Rebenitsch with ClearSight LASIK says complications are rare, though. Infection can be a concern, but following doctor's orders will help limit that danger. “As with any medical procedures there are risks, but LASIK is one of the most successful procedures worldwide,” says Dr. Luke.
  4. Prep can take some time. If you wear contacts, you will be unable to wear them for some time leading up to the procedure. Patients are also expected to go back to the doctor after the procedure to make sure they are healing correctly. "Almost everyone who comes in says they are both anxious and excited, and I understand both because I had procedure myself,” says Dr. Luke.
  5. The cost is not insignificant. The price of the average treatment goes into the thousands. The cost does depend on the practice and the patient, but it is not unusual to pay four-thousand dollars for the procedure.

Many clinics offer financing options, but approval is dependent on your credit score. Potential patients can also ask about pricing, and save the money yourself either through a flex spending account or your own savings account. Saving the money ahead of the procedure will allow the consumer to pay for it outright and not get into more debt.

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