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.

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Sean Cooper

Sean Cooper is a single, 20-something year old, first time home buyer 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. You can read some of his other articles here.
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5 years ago

Consider this before being so happy to get rid of your glasses:
You will need to buy sunglasses now. ($$ for good ones)
You will have to wear protective eyewear if your work requires it.
If you cycle you will probably need to wear protective eyewear too .($$ for cool ones)

I don’t have to worry about these things, because I wear glasses. As I moved into my 40’s my eyesight rapidly worsened- this probably would have happened had I had Lasic in my 30’s, and I would be back to where I was before.
Older folk with cataracts seem to benefit by the lens replacement surgery, but that’s not Lasic…

5 years ago

Got laser eye surgery and all I’ll say is consult this:

I would pay $100,000 to get my original eye sight back with no dryness etc…

Sosuke Aizen
6 years ago

I had laser eye surgery in 1998 when I was 33 years old, and haven’t needed any follow-up surgery or corrective lenses. I strongly recommend laser eye surgery, because the comfort and convenience of not wearing glasses or contact lenses is worth it. Prescription lenses and frames are all over-priced. The money saved from not paying for those rip-offs will pay for the surgery.

6 years ago

I had laser eye surgery done about 17 years ago when I was 30 years old, and it cost me $4000 at the time. It was through an opthalmologist, not Lasik MD (I don’t think they existed at the time). For 11 years everything was perfect, and I still think this was the best money I’ve ever spent, a truly worthwhile investment. Around 6 years ago, when I was 41, I noticed that my vision wasn’t as good anymore, and my optometrist recommended glasses for distance. My vision has been getting worse since then, although it is still much better than before the laser surgery.

A couple of my friends had laser surgery with Lasik MD in their mid-30s, and both of them noticed that around the time they turned 40 their eyesight started to get worse again. I don’t know if it was just a coincidence, but I do think it’s weird that all of us needed glasses again when we were around 40 years old (although none of us are as nearsighted as we were before the surgery). Has anyone else noticed this? Is is age-related?

6 years ago

I had Lasik eye surgery done at TLC in Waterloo 4 months ago. Like you, I started wearing glasses in high school/college when I found I couldn’t read the blackboard any longer. I went 20 years of using glasses and contact lenses and finally decided to go for it when I turned 40. Obviously one of my concerns was how long would I go being free from glasses such as reading glasses since I was already 40. My optometrist recommended Monovision, where one of my eyes would be under-corrected, or slightly nearsighted. Of course you give up some sharpness in distance, but to date I have no issues with distance at all, and I can read papers or computer screens clearly. I was surprised that TLC didn’t mention this to me during my consultations, but I am glad I went with monovision, especially if it delays my need for reading glasses.

I paid ~$3,700, plus an additional $700 for the follow up appointments. My insurance and my wife’s paid for a portion of it. No regrets whatsoever.

6 years ago

Good read Sean, I found your article thanks to the globe and mail and I thought I should add my own experience for readers. I had the surgery done about 15yrs ago (i’m 40 now) and unfortunately I don’t remember what the cost was (maybe 500 per eye?). I had it done at Lasik Canada, who no longer exist, i think they were purchased by Lasik MD or one of the others. Anyway, my experience was very much like yours other than I have not had any degradation since, I still have 20-10 vision, my optometrist marvels at how well my eyes have held up and said they did a great job with the surgery! I’m now wearing reading glasses at work to reduce eye strain since i’m in front of a computer all day, and I have noticed the reduction in close-up vision as well as a slowing of my focus speed (just like they said would happen at the time of my surgery) but I continue to do little eye exercises (focus on things at different distances while at my desk) so hopefully my vision will hold up for many years to come!

6 years ago

I’m glad to hear you’ve had a positive experience with laser eye surgery. I’ve been using contacts and eye glasses most of my life, the only thing that’s stopping me from getting surgery done are the costs. Hopefully it’ll get more affordable in the upcoming years.

Andrew Reid
6 years ago

I’m with CraigM on this one. I wear lens from time to time which is cover through my health plan along with a pair of glasses every few years. Though in my case, my eyesight isn’t all that weak (+1.5).

6 years ago

Get hard contacts, wear them while you sleep. Called orthokeratology. It costs $400 one-time, and you never worry about contacts or glasses again. Completely non-invasive. On it 10 years now. You’re welcome.

6 years ago

I had 5 great years post lasik and then my eyesight started to decline. I have friends with similar experiences and friends who are 15+ years with no problems. It’s a gamble.
I was a great candidate, my vision hadn’t changed in 20 years prior to surgery, and I had no other issues with my eyes. Now I wear glasses for distance again, but no problems reading.
You have to decide whether you are ok with the possibility it may not work permanently.
I don’t regret having the procedure. There are no guarantees.