LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery is a type of laser vision correction where a surgeon uses a laser to create a thin flap of superficial cornea, which they then fold back.5 The surgeon uses the laser to reshape your corneal tissue to treat your eye condition. Afterwards, the surgeon places the cornea flap back down, which adheres itself naturally.
This type of treatment is helpful for those with short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. If your surgeon deems your corneas too thin or irregularly shaped, you may not be suitable for LASIK.
PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), sometimes referred to as ASLA (advanced surface laser), is a laser eye surgery procedure where the surgeon removes the layer of cells covering your cornea.5 The surgeon then uses the laser to reshape your cornea to correct your eye condition, before applying a type of bandage contact lens to your eye to help it heal.
PRK is typically used to treat short- and long-sightedness as well as astigmatism. Your surgeon might also recommend PRK if your corneas are unusually shaped or if you suffer from dry eyes.
SMILE (small incision lenticular extraction) eye surgery is where the surgeon creates a lenticule – a tissue disc – inside your cornea.5 The surgeon then removes this disc through a tiny incision in your cornea. This bladeless procedure might suit patients who aren’t suitable for LASIK. The quicker cornea healing time also means you may be able to return to certain activities, like contact sports, sooner.
During ICL (implantable collamer or contact lens) eye surgery, a surgeon makes a small incision in the surface of your eye before they insert a soft lens behind your iris (which sits in front of your natural lens).5 The opening in your cornea will seal on its own.
The lens is designed to remain in your eye, but you can have a surgeon remove it if you wish.
This type of surgery may be useful for those who aren’t suitable for other types of laser eye surgeries. You might find that surgeons recommend ICL eye surgery if you have a high prescription or an abnormally-shaped or thin cornea.
Your surgeon will tell you which type of surgery best suits your eyes and condition. Some surgeons might even recommend against surgery if they think that’s the best option for you.
The cost of laser eye surgery depends on the type of procedure you need. We’ve looked at several Australian clinics and provided price ranges based on our findings to give you an idea of how much you might pay for each type of treatment.
Keep in mind that the below prices are only a guide to give you an idea of the average cost of these treatments. They are subject to change, and your treatment may fall outside of these dollar ranges, depending on your circumstances and your surgeon.
|Laser eye surgery cost in Australia|
|Type of laser eye surgery||Potential cost range per eye|
|LASIK||$2,200 – $3,600|
|PRK||$2,400 – $3,400|
|SMILE||$3,300 – $3,700|
|ICL||$4,700 – $6,200|
Aside from the procedure cost, there may be additional expenses for laser eye procedures, like:
Some laser eye clinics offer packages where the surgery and other related costs (e.g. follow-up appointments) are included in the price they quote you. Sometimes, the quoted figure doesn’t account for the total cost of your laser treatment. It’s also worth asking your clinic about their available payment options, as you may be able to set up a payment plan to help ease the cost of surgery.
Read through these helpful questions to ask before you book treatment.
A great way to know if laser eye surgery is financially worth it long term is to compare the costs you’d spend on glasses and contact lenses against total treatment costs.
To give you an idea of how you might like to weigh up costs, check out our example below.
Jeremy wears one-use soft contact lenses when he’s not wearing his prescription glasses. Each year, he purchases three packs of 90 lenses, which equates to around $300. He also spends about $60 on eyedrops over a year that he uses while wearing his contact lenses.
So, Jeremy spends about $360 on contacts products each year.
He also wears prescription glasses and tends to purchase a new pair of glasses every two years at around $150 each.
Jeremy’s also been weighing up LASIK eye surgery costs against the cost of his glasses and contacts. After a consultation where he was quoted $5,600 for both of his eyes, he started crunching the numbers.
He realised that over 13 years, he would spend more on glasses and contacts combined ($5,655) than the cost of LASIK.
Jeremy would prefer to see clearly without the hassle of contact lenses or glasses, so he feels the upfront cost of surgery is worth it in the long-term for his circumstances.
No, Medicare doesn’t typically cover laser eye surgery, since it’s considered a cosmetic procedure (i.e. you want to remove your need for glasses). However, if you have a certain eye disease and require medically necessary treatment, the cost of your surgery may be covered or subsidised.
If your doctor says you require medically necessary treatment, ask them if Medicare will subsidise your treatment and if any expenses you incur will be covered.
Hospital policies don’t cover laser eye surgeries, though some policies provide cover for medically necessary procedures like cataract surgery.
Top-level extras policies may offer some cover for laser eye surgery. However, you’ll need to check with your health fund to see if they cover the procedure and if so, how much of the cost will be covered by your policy.
You typically go to a private laser eye clinic for treatment; your eye doctor may recommend or even refer you to one. Before booking in for treatment, you might like to call up or visit a few clinics to compare your options and surgeons’ opinions.
To help ensure you understand a little more about what you can expect from your surgery, both for treatment and costs, it’s a good idea to ask as many questions as you can. Some of these include:
1 healthdirect. ‘Short-sightedness (myopia)’. Last reviewed September 2021. Accessed April 2022.
2 healthdirect. ‘Long-sightedness (hyperopia). Last reviewed September 2021. Accessed April 2022.
3 healthdirect. ‘Astigmatism’. Last reviewed August 2020. Accessed April 2022.
4 healthdirect. ‘Laser eye surgery’. Last reviewed March 2020. Accessed April 2022.
5 lasik.com.au. Eye Treatment Options. Accessed April 2022.