This year marks my fifth year anniversary since getting laser eye surgery. CBC Marketplace recently aired a segment on Lasik MD, the leading provider of laser vision correction in Canada, so I thought this would be the perfect time to write about my experience.
If you’re fed up with glasses like I was, you’ve probably looked into laser eye surgery. My eye sight was perfectly fine until high school when I couldn’t see the blackboard anymore. I ended up wearing glasses throughout high school and college. When I got into university, I decided to look into laser eye surgery.
Like most people, my two biggest concerns were the cost and the actual surgery. I had no idea how much the surgery would cost. The commercials on TV advertised prices as low as $490 per eye. I was spending $300 a year alone on eyeglasses, so I thought it’d be worth looking into. Although my eyesight wasn’t great, I was far from blind (I didn’t wear coke bottle eyeglasses or anything). I could see perfectly fine, I just couldn’t clearly read things that were far away like street signs and fast food menus.
Laser Eye Surgery : Start to Finish
Booking an appointment with Lasik MD was easy. I phoned their toll-free phone number and set up an appointment for their offices in downtown Toronto. I completed a questionnaire about my medical history and performed some tests with the eye doctors. The tests were pretty routine – I was asked to read the letters off of an eye chart. I also had to look into binoculars to figure out my prescription. The doctors would use various lenses and ask me if my vision was clearer or worse.
After going through the tests, I met with one of the doctors to discuss price. I asked about the risks of side effects like blindness and double-vision and was told they were very remote, which put me at ease. I remember seeing the price tag of $490 per eye on the commercials. My eye sight wasn’t terrible, so I didn’t think my eye surgery would cost a lot more than that. When I found out about the cost my jaw almost dropped. I was offered two surgeries: Standard LASIK for $2,778 and LASIK Zyoptix for $3,980 (this didn’t include the $60 in eye drops). Both plans included five years of coverage. If I needed a second surgery within those five years, it would be covered.
I was determined to get the surgery done, so I didn’t let the price tag deter me. After doing some research, I settled on the LASIK Zyoptix surgery. It just didn’t make sense to put my eyesight at risk over saving $1,200. If the price seems a little steep, Lasik MD has a $0 down offer: you can get the surgery done today and pay later.
My surgery went really well and was over in less than 10 minutes. I’d be more afraid about getting knee surgery than laser eye surgery. I had the surgery on a Wednesday, so I took the next two days off work and rested at home on the weekend. I was exhausted after the surgery, but I had to keep putting eye drops in my eyes every few hours. I also had to attend a follow up appointment to make sure my eyes were healing properly. I remember waking up the day after the surgery and seeing how much my vision had improved – it was remarkable! I could finally see again!
The Downside of Laser Eye Surgery
I’d say the biggest downside to laser eye surgery is the cost. My eye sight wasn’t terrible and I ended up spending nearly $4,000. If you’re getting the surgery done, make sure you claim a medical deduction on your income tax return. If your employer provides health benefit coverage for eyeglasses, make a claim. If your employer offers a health spending account, you can deposit enough money in your account to cover the surgery. You’ll save money since you’re paying in before-tax dollars.
5 Years Later: Am I Satisfied?
It’s been five years since my laser eye. I’m fairly satisfied with the results. There are laser eye surgery horror stories out there, but so far I haven’t run into any issues. The only thing I’m disappointed with is how much my eye sight has regressed in five years. Although my eye sight is a lot better than before the surgery, it has gotten noticeably worse. I used to be able to read street signs and the menu at Tim Hortons with ease, but now they appear blurry and I sometimes have to squint. I’m no eye doctor, so I’m not sure if this is only my eyes regressing as they normally would, but it’s disappoint nonetheless.
Despite the upfront expense, I’ve saved a lot of money over the last five years on prescription eye glasses which used to cost about $300 a year.
If I could do it over again, would I get laser eye surgery? Despite my worsening eyesight, I’d probably say yes. I tried contact lenses and I didn’t like them. I hated glasses so much I’d rather walk around blind than wear them.
Laser eye surgery isn’t a cure all solution: I’ll still need reading glasses when I’m older, but at least I won’t have to worry about those for a few more years. There are risks: laser eye surgery is a relatively new procedure, so the long-term effects are largely unknown.
If you’re on the fence about laser eye surgery, I’d say to wait another few years. With every passing year the technology seems to be get better and the price falls.
Would you ever consider laser eye surgery? What concerns you more: the price tag or the surgical procedure?
About the Author: Sean Cooper is a single, first time home buyer and landlord located in Toronto. He has experience in the financial sector as a Pension Analyst, RESP administrator and Income Tax Preparer. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in business management from Ryerson University. Follow him on Twitter @SeanCooperWrite and read some of his other articles here.