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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Visit to the lasic vision center
Recently both my spouse and I went to a lasik vision center to find out about the costs and surgery details. Both of us had been planning it for past few years but had been dilly dallying. I had gone earlier also but at that time, due to the pregnancy, the center didn't perform any exams. As part of the flexible spending account (medical) enrollment for 2009, my spouse had already made an estimate for the lasik surgery and included it in his 2009 contributions.

Our eye exams lasted for about 1.5 hours. As the kids were with us, both of us had eye exams simultaneously. The initial person (an assistant) performed three different exams in three different rooms and finally told me that I was ineligible for surgery because my cornea was too thin. For my spouse, it was a similar diagnosis except that in his case, they could perform PRK instead of lasik surgery. He told us that the thickness of cornea is by birth and it’s not something that be improved using certain diet nor does it improves/decreases with age.

So that was the end of lasik dreams for me! In my spouse’s case, he was taken to another room where he met with an eye doctor. She performed certain additional exams and provided details about the PRK surgery. She also mentioned that even though PRK would restore his vision to 20/20, he would feel discomfort for a few weeks. In addition, it may hasten the use of reading glasses which will be necessary anyways in his 40’s. That was pretty much an end to his lasik dreams as well since the whole purpose of getting lasik for both of us was to get rid of glasses and contacts.

After his eye exam, the initial assistant took him again to another room to talk about finances. The person told that they are running a special in December and can do a custom PRK for $2,200 ($1,100 per eye). When asked, he mentioned that there’s also a traditional surgery but it’s more of a generic surgery unlike custom surgery which is specific based on my eye measurements that they had taken that day. In addition, the number and duration of follow-up visits after the surgery were longer in case of custom surgery. The traditional surgery cost he quoted was $1,800 ($900 per eye). He also mentioned 0% financing and how it could make the payments management. Seeing the hesitancy in my spouse, the assistant mentioned that he can talk to his manager and may be able to knock off another $200-$300.

While my spouse had already made up his mind of not getting surgery after learning about the reading glasses, it was clear that there’s lot of room for negotiating the fee. Since lasik surgery is often not covered by health insurance, it’s always good to know that fees are negotiable, and in this environment, can be reduced drastically since most people are cash-strapped which is hurting lasik vision centers. In addition, there is discretion in how much post-surgery follow-ups are included, so that’s also something to go over to get the best deal.
posted by Ruby @ 7:36 AM  
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