Laser eye surgery continues to increase in popularity as a way to treat long or short-sightedness. But many people want to know – what does it cost? Is it more cost-effective than glasses and contacts? Will laser eye surgery save you money? Laser eye surgery can be an expensive upfront cost, but does the freedom from glasses or contact lenses make it a worthwhile investment. We’ve put together some information to help you answer these questions and more.

What is laser eye surgery?

Before we launch into money talk, you may be wondering what laser eye surgery even is or how it works. Well here at the Wellington Eye Centre, we’re laser eye surgery experts, so let us explain. 

Laser eye surgery has been around since the late ’80s, the first procedure being PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). There has been a number of technological advances since then, leading to the development of LASIK (Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) in the ’90s. Then more recently SMILE® (small incision lenticule extraction). SMILE was developed by Carl Zeiss Meditec and approved for use in 2011.

Each surgery is slightly different but they all have the same basic principle to them. That is to reshape the cornea, the clear dome at the front of your eye, to correct any focusing errors.

We offer all three types of laser eye surgery here at the Wellington Eye Centre. During your free laser suitability assessment, we’ll have a chat with you about which procedure is most suitable for you based on your age, prescription and lifestyle.

All laser eye surgery procedures work by reshaping the cornea to correct for short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism or a combination.

  • For short-sightedness this means flattening the cornea, any of the three procedures can correct this.
  • Long-sightedness requires steepening the cornea. Only PRK or LASIK are capable at this stage. 
  • Correcting astigmatism involves smoothing the curvature of the cornea. The amount of astigmatism will determine the type of procedure used. Generally, we can correct anything up to a -5 astigmatism.
  • Lastly, if suitable, those affected by presbyopia can have LASIK blended surgery to correct both short and long-sightedness.

What does laser eye surgery cost in NZ?

The cost of laser eye surgery varies between regions and clinics. Some clinics also charge different amounts for the type of surgery you receive or varying costs depending on your prescription. The services bundled into the price may differ between clinics too – some may include aftercare and retreatments, for example. 

It’s important to understand what the price includes, at the clinic you choose. Some clinics will charge you less, but only offer a short period of aftercare, others cost more but may include up to one year’s worth of free aftercare post-surgery. 

The price ranges from $3200-$3600 per eye across New Zealand. And in Australia, the cost is very similar.

If the upfront cost isn’t manageable most clinics offer a finance option with an interest-free period of 12 to 24 months. 

Here’s how prices for laser eye surgery in NZ vary by location:*

*This is just an estimated cost and prices could still vary slightly.

Cost of laser eye surgery at The Wellington Eye Centre

The cost of laser eye surgery at the Wellington Eye Centre, whether it is PRK, LASIK or SMILE, is $3,380 per eye. 

We don’t think it’s right or fair to have people choose their surgery based on cost or penalise patients by charging more for a higher prescription. We want you to be able to have the procedure that’s best for your eyes. Our surgeon will discuss with you what the best, most suitable procedure for you is.

For the best patient satisfaction, it’s generally recommended you get both eyes treated at once. However, in some instances, only one eye may need to be corrected. You can chat with our friendly team at your medical assessment if this may be an option.

Will laser eye surgery save me money?

Having poor eyesight is expensive! Years of wearing glasses and contacts can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to this high cost, there’s also the daily annoyance of finding your glasses or putting your contacts in. Imagine being able to get out of bed in the morning and not fumble around for your glasses or head straight to the bathroom to put your contacts in. Or being able to head out for walks, runs or simply out in rainy weather without having glasses hinder you.

Have a look at our surgery payback calculator and see how long it would take you to start saving money!

Let’s break down the costs involved in wearing glasses or contact lenses:

Depending on what your prescription is, the cost for glasses often ranges from $300 to over $1,500 per pair. More if you want fancy frames! If these glasses need to be replaced every 4-5 years, the cost of the glasses alone could set you back $2,000-$6,000 over a couple of decades. That’s assuming they aren’t broken, lost or require to be replaced more often. This cost doesn’t include any extras such as contact lenses or prescription sunglasses either.

For predominantly contact lens wearers the annual cost for lenses and solution is between $500-$800. Add on the cost of glasses as well as optometrist visits and you’re likely to end up a lot higher. There’s also the environmental impact to consider.

The average cost for a comprehensive eye exam in Wellington is around $100, having this every year or two as suggested quickly stacks up. After having laser eye surgery you don’t tend to need them as often.

With this in mind, the cost of laser eye surgery not only represents a likely saving for most people over a number of years but also represents freedom from the hassle of having to worry about glasses or contacts and all of the annoyances that come with them!

What’s included in our $3,380 fee?

At the Wellington Eye Centre, we have a set $3,380 fee per eye, across all procedures, which is all-inclusive. The medical assessment has an initial cost of $180, this is then taken off the cost of surgery should you proceed.

This fee covers up to 12 months of post-operative care at our clinic, or for out-of-town patients at your local optometrist. You will have a number of compulsory follow-up appointments; one day, one week, one month, three months, six months and sometimes one-year post-surgery. As well as any other appointments you may require throughout that period. We want to ensure you have a smooth recovery and will be there for you every step of the way.

Although laser eye surgery is permanent, there is a small chance with all procedures that you may need retreatment. We will cover the cost of this for 2 years post-surgery. If retreatment is needed it will almost always become apparent within the first 3-6 months.

Accommodation package

For patients travelling from outside of the Greater Wellington Region, we offer an accommodation package as part of our service. This is a one-off complimentary offer for your initial assessment and surgery. We provide two nights’ accommodation just down the road at the Naumi Studio for $100, or $50 per night. This allows for the medical assessment to be done on a Monday, followed by surgery on Tuesday. Then you will have your day one follow-up appointment on Wednesday, before heading home.

For patients in the Hawkes Bay region, we have a clinic in Napier where the medical assessment can be done by our Ophthalmologist, Dr Logan. Therefore you will only require one night’s accommodation in Wellington (the night after surgery). You will then have your day one follow-up appointment at our clinic in Wellington. All further follow-ups will either be at our Napier clinic with Dr Logan, our Optometrist, or at your local Optometrist when needed.

We also travel to Nelson to perform initial free assessments, following this you will still need a medical assessment at our clinic in Wellington prior to surgery. Patients who have had a free assessment in Nelson will then also be offered the accommodation package for two nights.

Finance for laser eye surgery

If the upfront cost is a barrier for you we have a standard offer of 12 months interest-free with GEM visa and Q Card. Have a look at our handy surgery payback calculator to see how soon you can start saving money.

If you’re using this payment option please ensure you let us know so we can make sure you get the correct amount of interest-free months.

Generally, laser eye surgery is not covered by medical insurance. It is an elective surgery and is considered a ‘cosmetic procedure’.

To find out more about laser eye surgery at the Wellington Eye Centre and whether you’re suitable, get in touch. Or book in for a free, no-obligation, initial laser suitability assessment.

SMILE® is a registered trademark of Carl Zeiss Meditec.

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