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LASIK: An Honest Discussion of Price

lasik-coverOur website has a pretty good page about the actual bladeless, custom LASIK (a.k.a. iLASIK) procedure we do here – what it entails, our uniquely personal approach, and more. But it doesn’t talk about price, and that is the first question any person interested in laser vision correction is going to ask.

Unfortunately, many potential LASIK patients shy away immediately when they hear what it actually costs. Possibly they have certain expectations for price based on advertisements found on the web and other places – advertisements that say “LASIK as low as $499 per eye!” or something similar. With a great-sounding price like that in mind, it’s no wonder I can almost hear a patient’s eyes glazing over during a phone conversation about our iLASIK pricing. Which is why, often, iLASIK™ providers like us tend to lead with all the benefits of the procedure, and mention price as the very last thing.

But I’m just going to go ahead and tell you: the all-inclusive price of bladeless LASIK at North Cascade Eye Associates is $2500 per eye (with the option of a $200 discount per eye if paid up front.)

And now I’m going to tell you why.

The IntraLase™ and Custom LASIK factors

First: keep in mind that most of the following is generally true for vision centers and LASIK centers whose surgeons perform a similar vision correction procedure to ours – our price also falls within the industry standard for the particular kind of LASIK (iLASIK™) that we perform. I will talk about a few Cascadia Eye exceptions at the end of this blog.

When I say “bladeless,” I am specifically referring to IntraLase™. We discuss its advantages a bit on the previously-mentioned web page. In brief, it is the top-of-the-line laser vision correction service – offering safer and more predictable outcomes for our surgeons. Similarly, we only perform Custom LASIK with Wavefront technology (individualized 3-D mapping of the eye), rather than the cheaper “Conventional” or “Standard” alternative, which is less precise and not customized to each patient’s unique visual needs. The combination of Custom LASIK plus IntraLase™ is called iLASIK™, and although we do have several other options for refractive surgery, our doctors have chosen not to offer any other LASIK procedure – part of our commitment to the highest quality of technology and service. We actually use a mobile unit provided and serviced by VISX, a top excimer laser provider, for our IntraLase™ and VISX Star S4 Excimer Laser – instead of buying them outright, so we can always stay on top of current proven technology rather than be stuck with outdated equipment in the years to come.

The laser vision correction behind the “$499 per eye!” pricing you see in advertisements is usually for bladed, conventional LASIK, as the the equipment that uses a blade to create the corneal flap is very inexpensive these days – especially the older models. Buying this equipment instead of renting also helps discount LASIK centers to drive the price down.

Fixed vs. variable pricing

The other secret behind those charmingly low prices advertised on the internet is something called variable pricing, where the cost of your procedure is scaled “according to your prescription.” So if you only have a very small amount of nearsightedness or farsightedness, maybe your procedure would cost the lowest price available. But if you have a higher prescription or astigmatism or any number of other variables, chances are your price would be higher than listed. The advantage to having a low-price option at all, of course, is that it does a great job of pulling people in for those initial consultations.

Cascadia Eye has always charged a fixed price, because the cost to us is always the same regardless of your prescription or astigmatism (which was great news for me, since I was very nearsighted prior to my LASIK procedure here.) The price we set is also exactly what you pay – no hidden costs, and no extra fees for your post-operative visits (which are important and should never be skipped.) We also include all pre-operative testing and exams in our cost. Those other discount prices will not typically include these things.

Cascadia Eye Exceptions

Time for a little more honesty. According to a Market Scope, a leading industry analyst, the average price of LASIK procedures with one fixed price like ours was $2,216 per eye in 2013. (It should be noted that number is not specific to Custom iLASIK, so it might skew higher if only the top-of-the-line procedures were counted.) But the other simple reason our price is higher than the average is that we don’t operate in a big city like Seattle, where a high volume of LASIK patients could bring the cost down. What you get in exchange for that is local care without the hassle and cost of travel to Seattle or to Canada, and with less valuable time taken from your work schedule.

You also get something that is unique to our clinic: all of your follow-up care is done by the same surgeon who performed your procedure. Generally follow-up appointments in other places are performed by another doctor, but not so for Cascadia Eye – Dr. Siapco and Dr. Pereira prefer to have a personal involvement in tracking your eye recovery throughout the year following your surgery. And I think that’s pretty neat.

Contact North Cascade Eye Associates

If you would like more information, or if you would like to schedule a LASIK consultation at North Cascade Eye Associates, please contact us today.

In addition, join us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to ask your questions about eyes, exams, and our practice. I might just do a blog about them!

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