LASIK Vs. Contacts – Long Term Cost

You want better vision, but you’re worried about the cost. How can you improve your vision without wasting precious dollars and cents? Honestly, who has money to throw away? If you’re a budget shopper, broke college student, or lover of good vision, we’ve created this guide for you!

Glasses, contacts, and LASIK surgery are the most popular options for correcting vision. How does each one stack up financially? We’ll show you the long-term and short-term costs associated with each vision correction option. Choose what works best for your lifestyle and pocketbook.  Spending money on your vision is necessary, but we’ll help you get the best bang for your buck.

How Much Do Glasses Cost?

If you’re dirt broke, but struggling to see, glasses may be the best option for you. Glasses can be a very affordable option for correcting vision. If you buy glasses online, you can find a pair of frames and lenses for under $50. Some factors that increase the cost of glasses include:

  • Prescription- Those with a high prescription will have to spend more on their glasses. High prescriptions generally require specialized, thin and lightweight lenses which can cost hundreds of dollars more.
  • Add-ons- Anti-glare coating, UV protection, anti-scratch coatings, damage insurance and other add-ons can increase the cost of glasses.
  • Same Day Service- If your glasses have broken and you need a pair now, plan on spending a bit extra. Same day service can cost a lot more than ordering your glasses online and waiting for them to ship.

Most people keep their glasses for 1-3 years per pair. Many people own multiple pairs of glasses, including prescription sunglasses.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Glasses

Glasses are affordable, but they can be incredibly inconvenient. Glasses must be worn anytime you want vision correction. Since they can be uncomfortable to sleep in, you’ll need to take them off at night, which means that you won’t be able to see your alarm clock or phone during the night. Glasses are easy to lose or break. Glasses are visible, a downside for many people that dislike the look. Glasses are also inconvenient during exercise and stormy weather.

How Much Do Contacts Cost?

Contacts eliminate many of the hassles of glasses, but can still be highly affordable. Accuvue, a leading provider of contact lenses estimates that most people pay between $175-$1,400 yearly for contact lenses. If that sounds like a big range, it is, but costs vary widely. Contacts for higher prescriptions or astigmatism are more expensive. Daily contact lenses cost more than those that are replaced bi-weekly or monthly. Work with your eye doctor to find contacts that work with your eyes and your budget.

A prescription for contact lenses lasts for a year, and if your prescription changes, you may acquire additional expenses for lens fittings, in addition to a yearly eye exam.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses have a few advantages and disadvantages when compared to glasses. Since they are inserted on top of the eye, they aren’t visible, but you will need to put them in, take them out, and clean them regularly. Contacts can’t be used when swimming or during water activities. There is also a risk for infection and eye damage, especially if contacts aren’t used properly. If you have astigmatism, it can be more difficult to find lenses that fit comfortably.

How Much Does LASIK Cost?

LASIK costs vary substantially depending on your eyes and the LASIK surgeon you choose. For modern LASIK with a highly experienced surgeon, plan to spend between $4,000-$6,000 for both eyes. The average per eye is about $2,500. Be very cautious if you’re receiving quotes that are lower than this. In all likelihood, if you’re being charged less, you aren’t receiving LASIK using the most advanced technologies or working with an experienced surgeon.

The cost of LASIK often includes all expenses related to the procedure including pre- and post-operative care, the surgery itself, and any needed follow-up.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of LASIK

Like glasses and contacts, LASIK has advantages and disadvantages. Many find the upfront investment financially straining and insurance doesn’t usually pay any of the cost. LASIK also requires a recovery period after surgery. LASIK is surgery and although the risks are low, it is riskier than non-invasive options like glasses.

When it comes to advantages, LASIK has glasses and contacts beat. Imagine a life without the hassles of glasses or contacts. LASIK can provide lifelong, lasting vision correction. Glasses and contacts temporarily correct a vision problem, but LASIK changes the eyes, improving the way your eyes work. Most people will enjoy lifelong improvement in their vision, although some patients will need touch up LASIK in the future.

Glasses vs. Contacts vs. LASIK- Which Option Is Best?

Glasses or contacts or LASIK? The decision isn’t an easy one to make because costs and conveniences vary greatly. Here’s a quick comparison between the costs and benefits of each option:

  • Glasses– The most affordable option. However, if you look at the long-term cost, LASIK is similarly priced. One pair of $200 glasses a year over 20 years is $4,000, about the same price as LASIK surgery. Glasses are easy to break and can be difficult to wear during exercise and other activities.
  • Contacts– Over the course of 20 years, contacts cost about the same as LASIK with moderately priced contacts. If you spend more on your contacts, LASIK savings are even greater. For example if you spend $500 a year on contact lenses, you’ll pay for LASIK in just 10 years.
  • LASIK– LASIK is the most convenient vision correction option. Many patients will no longer need glasses or contacts after surgery. Most people love their LASIK results and wish they signed up for the surgery sooner. It does require an initial investment, but financing and payment options are often available.

LASIK requires an up-front investment, but that doesn’t mean it is more expensive in the long-term than glasses or contacts. Choose your vision correction option based on personal preference and convenience, not on cost alone.