Three Reasons Why Wavefront Technology Increases the Price of Lasik.

By: Thomas Hunter

Custom Lasik surgery, using wavefront technology, is a relatively new procedure that offers distinct advantages over traditional Lasik surgery. This advance in Lasik technology uses equipment that is capable of making many more measurements of the eye, with more precision than traditional Lasik. The benefit of more measurements is a Lasik procedure that will be individualized (customized) to your eye, more than was ever possible with the traditional Lasik procedure. The laser used for the measurements is also much faster than the one used for the traditional Lasik procedure, this allows the laser to keep up with the uncontrollable eye movements that your eye normally makes (saccadic eye movements), resulting in more accurate measurement that greatly reduce the possibilities of side-effects.

The advanced capabilities of Custom Lasik, as valuable as they are to the patient, only account for a small part of the patients additional cost when Custom Lasik is chosen over traditional Lasik. The primary reasons that Custom Lasik is more expensive are more practical:

• Custom Lasik requires the doctor and his staff to spend additional time for preoperative testing and analysis as well as in the performance of the more complex procedure.

• The wavefront equipment is much more expensive than the equipment used for the traditional Lasik procedure so expenses relating to the purchase or lease and maintenance of the wavefront equipment are higher; additional supplies are also required.

• A royalty fee must be paid to the equipment manufacturer every time the equipment is used, the royalty for the wavefront equipment may be up to $150.00 more than the clinic has to pay for the traditional Lasik equipment.

Time factors. Wavefront is based on NASA research; it measures the unique ability of each patient's eye to absorb and reflect light. The wavefront equipment is capable of making 200 unique measurements that create what might be called a three-dimensional topographic map of your cornea; compare this to only three measurements made using traditional Lasik equipment. Time is money and the Lasik surgeon and his staff will need to spend up to one-hour more with each Custom Lasik patient than they would with a traditional Lasik patient. This extra time is spent evaluating your condition to see if you are a good candidate for Custom Lasik, performing the pre-op analysis if it is determined that Custom Lasik is right for you, and operating and monitoring the equipment during the wavefront mapping procedure and during the actual surgical procedure all take longer because of the added complexity.

Equipment costs. The additional investment required by a Laser clinic to enable them to perform the Custom Lasik procedure is over $100,000.00. Added to that, the clinic must provide supplies for each patient that are specifically required for the Custom Lasik procedure; these can add up to several hundred dollars for each patient.

Royalties. A royalty payment to the manufacturer of each piece of Lasik equipment, each time that equipment is used, is standard procedure; this royalty payment for the wavefront equipment is typically between $140.00 and $250 per use (where use is defined as a procedure on only one eye), depending on the clinic's arrangement with the equipment manufacturer. This royalty fee arrangement allows the manufacturer to recoup the cost of research and development.

These costs are in addition to the Lasik clinic's other costs of operation which include:

• gowns, masks, gloves and other items for keeping the operation sterile.

• microkeratome blades, surgical solutions and medications used during the surgery.

• overhead costs for the surgery center, which includes office and surgical staff salaries and benefits, rent, office equipment, and office administration.

• patient acquisition costs, which include advertising, seminars, and fees paid to other eye care practitioners for comanagement.

• insurance to cover the facility, equipment and malpractice law suits.

• equipment leasing or purchase costs for other pieces of equipment used for associated procedures or other procedures.

royalty fees to equipment manufacturers for other Lasik equipment.

After gaining a good understanding of the complexity and cost of the wavefront technology and equipment it is somewhat easier to understand why the Lasik surgeon has increased the cost of Custom Lasik in relation to traditional Lasik.


This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease".

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