Laser eye surgery costs
How much does laser eye surgery cost? For most people, less than a lifetime of prescription glasses or contacts.
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Many Australians who consider laser eye surgery hesitate at the high prices and lack of information available on what exactly those prices include.
We’ve done the research to help you find the average prices of available laser eye surgery procedures in Australia, and have broken it down to give you a sense of what you can expect. Read on to find out how much laser eye surgery really costs.
Comparison of laser eye surgery costs in Australia
|Procedure||Method||Average price per-eye|
|LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis)||A surgeon uses lasers to create a flap in the cornea and reshape the underlying tissue before replacing the flap.||$2,200-$3,400|
|PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)||A surgeon uses a topical solution to remove the top layer of corneal cells, and a laser to reshape the exposed corneal tissue below.||$2,400-$3,400|
|SMILE (small incision lenticular extraction)||A surgeon make a small incision in the cornea with a laser and then removes a small disc of underlying corneal tissue.||$3,300-$3,700|
|LASEK (laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis)||A laser creates an ultra-thin layer of the barrier that protects the cornea, which is moved to the side so the surgeon can reshape the corneal tissue below. The barrier is then re-positioned back on the cornea.||$2,400-$3,400|
|ICL (implantable contact lenses)||An ICL is a custom lens, similar to a contact lens, that is created by a surgeon and implanted directly into the eye.||$4,700-$6,200|
Cost breakdown for laser eye surgery
If you’re a candidate for laser eye surgery, you might be having a difficult time figuring out exactly how much the procedure will cost. This is because there’s no set price for laser eye surgery.
Prices for laser eye surgery can vary based on procedure, clinic, surgeon experience and individual circumstances. You cannot expect to pay the exact same prices as someone else, because everyone’s eyes are unique. However, you can expect transparency from your laser eye clinics in terms of all costs and fees.
We’ve dissected the overall cost of laser eye surgery to help you decide if laser eye surgery is affordable for you.
- Consultation fees. The cost of consultation fees range from free, or included in the total cost of surgery, to $250. Your clinic will inform you of its consultation fees when you book your first appoint. Make sure to ask if you will have to pay the consultation fee if you end up not being eligible for any laser eye surgery procedure.
- Surgery cost. The actual cost of laser eye surgery ranges from $4,000 to $12,400 for both eyes, depending on the clinic and the type of procedure. The cost can also be based on surgeon experience, as the most accomplished surgeons often charge higher rates.
- All inclusive cost vs individual costs. Some clinics charge one flat rate that includes the full cost of the initial consultation, surgery and follow-up appointments. Other clinics charge for each individual cost, such as follow-up appointments, medications and diagnostic tests. Be sure to ask any potential clinic for details on all costs and fees associated with your procedure.
- Medicare coverage. Laser eye surgery is not covered under Medicare, except in the rare case when it’s used to treat certain eye diseases.
- Healthcare coverage. Some Australian health funds cover all or part of your laser eye surgery procedure if you have top or premium coverage. Keep in mind, there is usually a waiting period of one to three years after signing up for healthcare before you are eligible for laser eye coverage. See our health insurance comparison table below.
- Payment plans. Many clinics offer payment plans to reduce the stress caused by a large upfront payment. Ask your clinic if they offer any payment plan options.
- Follow-up appointments. Some follow-up appointments may be covered in the overall surgery cost. If the cost is not all-inclusive, follow-up appointments may cost between $70 and $150. Keep in mind, the number of follow-up appointments you’ll need depends on the type of procedure you have and the rate at which your eyes heal.
- Post-op medication or treatments. Many clinics include the cost of medicines such as eye-drops in their procedure cost, while others do not. Generally, eye-drops will cost around $50 if they are priced separately. Other medications will vary.
- Emergencies. Your clinic may or may not offer after hours care. In the case of an emergency, you may need to seek treatment at a hospital or emergency room. The price of treatment will depend on the hospital, necessary interventions and your healthcare cover.
- Additional procedures. Though rare, there is the possibility one or both of your eyes could over or under correct its refractive error during the healing process. In this case, additional procedures could be required to correct the error. This could range from $2,000 to $12,600 depending on the type of procedure and whether one eye or both require treatment.
Laser eye surgery vs other alternatives
Laser eye surgery can seem expensive and unaffordable, but for many people the procedure is cheaper than the long term costs of other methods of vision care. Read on to compare the cost of laser eye surgery to the most common vision care methods in Australia, like glasses and contacts.
Laser eye surgery vs contact lenses
Luca has worn contact lenses for more than ten years. Like most contact lens wearers, Luca uses soft contact lenses. He typically buys a box of six disposable lenses for $30, and changes his lenses at least every two weeks. He also buys at least $150 worth of contact lens solution and cleaning products per year. Like many Australians, Luca needs an annual eye-exam and consultation to check-up on his eyes and prescription. Unfortunately, Luca’s check-ups are not covered by Medicare.
He was recently approved for PRK laser eye surgery after a free consultation but is not sure if it’s worth the cost.
Let’s compare the cost of Luca’s contact lenses against PRK surgery:
- Consultation fees: $100 per year
- Lenses: $30 per box or $258 per year
- Maintenance/cleaning: $150 per year
- Total annual cost: $508
- Total cost of contact lenses over 11.5 years: $5,842
- Average cost of PRK surgery: $5,800
- Result: In 11.5 years Luca will spend more on contact lenses than he would on PRK surgery, although laser eye surgery has a much higher upfront cost.
Laser eye surgery vs prescription glasses
Zoe is one of more than 50% of Australians who wears prescription eyeglasses. Zoe has one pair of glasses that she wears every day that cost her $190. She also has a back-up pair and a pair of prescription sunglasses. Zoe buys a new pair of glasses every year or due to regular wear and tear, breakage and wanting to keep up with the newest trends. She has an annual eye examination with an ophthalmologist, which is covered by Medicare.
Zoe has recently taken up running and has grown increasingly frustrated with the limitations of wearing glasses while exercising. She has been considering LASIK surgery and has been told she is a potential candidate, but she thinks it is too expensive.
Let’s compare the cost of Zoe’s eyeglasses against LASIK surgery:
- New pair of glasses each year: $190
- Annual eye examinations: $0
- Total annual cost: $190
- Total cost of prescription glasses over 30 years: $5,700
- Average cost of LASIK: $5,600 for both eyes
- Result: Though LASIK has a much higher upfront cost than wearing prescription glasses, Zoe will pay less for laser eye surgery than glasses over a 30 year period.
Anna’s Ortho-K lenses
Laser eye surgery vs orthokeratology
Anna is a swimmer who has been using orthokeratology lenses for four years. She wears the rigid lenses every night to reshape her corneas and takes them out every morning, allowing her to swim every day. Anna’s lenses cost $1,500 and she has to replace them every two years. She also has to have six-monthly check-ups with her optometrist, costing her around $100 per year.
Recently, Anna dropped her Ortho-K lenses just months after receiving a new set, breaking them and forcing her to pay for two sets of lenses this year alone. She is frustrated by the ongoing maintenance and expenses of her Ortho-K lenses. Anna has been approved for Implantable Contact Lenses or ICL, but she is concerned about the high price as ICL is the most expensive type of laser eye surgery available.
Let’s compare the cost of Anna’s Ortho-K lenses against ICL:
- Ortho-K lenses: $1,500 every two years
- Follow-up appointments: $100 per year
- Cleaning/maintenance: $150 per year
- Total annual cost: $1,000
- Total cost of Ortho-K lenses after 11 years: $11,000
- Average cost of ICL: $10,900 for both eyes
- Result: After 11 years, Anna will spend approximately $11,000 on her orthokeratology lenses, compared to the one-time cost of $10,900 for ICL.
Is laser eye surgery be covered by health insurance?
Laser eye surgery is generally not eligible for any Medicare benefits, unless it’s used to treat certain eye diseases. Most private health insurance policies however can cover all major eye surgeries to a certain extent, even corrective laser surgery.
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