As with LASIK or any vision correction procedure, refractive lens exchange candidates are prudent in their research and begin the process with lots of pertinent questions. One of the most common is, “How much does lens replacement surgery cost?”

What are the biggest factors affecting custom lens replacement (CLR) costs?

With any reputable health care provider, the quality and thoroughness of care will have a greater impact on the cost of custom lens replacement surgery, formerly called refractive lens exchange (RLE), than just about anything else. For this reason, the valuable gift of eyesight—or any other aspect of our health and wellbeing—is never a place to cut corners.

When evaluating the quality of care a prospective LASIK and vision correction surgeon can provide you, measure them by these three yardsticks:

  • Expertise
  • Technology
  • Time

CLR is a great investment that
also prevents cataracts.

Expertise. Seek out surgeons who are well-educated, have fellowship training in refractive surgery, and are board-certified in ophthalmology. Look for surgeons who are supported by professional, well-trained staff. Visit the practice website for details about their credentials and read patient reviews for specifics about their experience with the practice.

Technology. It is no small matter to equip a refractive surgery center with sophisticated, top-tier diagnostic and laser surgery equipment, but surgeons who care about precision will spare no expense to  acquire the very best technology. This does add to the cost of surgery, but patients benefit from the combination of a skilled surgeon utilizing the very best equipment to perform a precise custom lens replacement surgery. Ask your doctor or medical technician for information about the equipment that will be used on your eyes.

Time. Eye surgery can be an intimidating process, particularly when there are so many unknowns for the average patient. This is why an investment in manpower is so important. Patients at Brinton Vision, for example, can count on a great deal of personal attention from a caring staff. Not only are medical technicians available to answer questions by phone, email, or text message, but each patient has the opportunity to consult with his or her surgeon before and after surgery to fully understand their procedure and aftercare, and to ask questions. Our surgeons provide their personal cell phone number to Brinton Vision patients on the day of surgery and encourage our surgical patients to call with any questions.

Brinton Vision will never sacrifice any of these important investments, because we firmly believe these are vital to providing the excellent care necessary for the best possible vision outcomes for our patients.

Finally, how much RLE–now custom lens replacement surgery–costs will also depend upon location. The same procedure and care in a high-cost-of-living location such as New York City or San Francisco will usually cost much more than it would in the affordable Midwest, even if everything else is the same. While we would never recommend price-shopping for LASIK, do ask yourself if you are paying a premium because of ultra-expensive real estate when considering a LASIK surgery cost quote. Always remember to focus on obtaining expertise, technology and time.

As of 2019, according to a broad, nationwide survey of cataract and refractive surgeons, standard lens replacement to address presbyopia surgery costs between $4,700 to $6,900 per eye.

Keep in mind that there are several things that can affect what you pay out of pocket for LASIK plus its modern alternatives. These factors include the patient’s treatment plan, the quality of care provided, how the surgical fees will be paid, and other common variables.

Is custom lens replacement surgery covered by insurance?

Here’s the rub: Insurance companies regard vision correction procedures such as refractive lens exchange to be elective, meaning they are not medically required. This does not mean our procedures are cosmetic – most people don’t have these procedures to improve their looks. They want to improve their visual performance. Our procedures are all IRS-qualified medical expenses that can be deducted from taxes, subject to certain rules. Patients can typically use dollars from health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) to cover part or the full cost of custom lens replacement in our St. Louis center. This is not true for cosmetic procedures, which are not considered an IRS qualified medical expense. You cannot use HSA, FSA, or other tax-free funds for cosmetic procedures.

So, why the mention of insurance for lens replacement surgery (formerly RLE)? Because St. Louis refractive lens exchange is a great option for patients with cataracts, or at risk for cataracts. If patients wait years for cataracts to develop and impair their vision, then a portion may be covered by insurance, but who wants to wait years for their vision to worsen to such a degree where this may be possible? Most of our patients want to have their vision fixed, crisp and sharp, and do it when they’re young enough to enjoy it.

Through custom lens replacement surgery (CLR, formerly RLE), the eye’s natural lens can be replaced with an IOL that addresses other issues with vision. There are similarities between refractive lens exchange performed here in St. Louis and cataract surgery – but there are also important differences. With RLE, the natural lens is replaced with an implantable lens that also corrects nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism, reducing or eliminating the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Brinton Vision also works with lenders to provide payment options for our patients, with zero down payment at low or no interest. (Ask our team about financing, and discuss tax deductions with your tax preparer.)

Does the lens implant last forever?

Well, as forever as you last! By definition, refractive lens exchange replaces a misshapen or cloudy natural lens with a biocompatible lens. The new lens doesn’t disintegrate, and the old lens does not grow back. Most custom lens replacement surgery patients can expect the vision they obtain to outlast them. RLE also has the added benefit of preventing the formation of cataracts in the future.

Are you ready to take the next
step in your vision journey?

Is lens replacement surgery worth it?

We at Brinton Vision certainly think so, based on the many life transformations we’ve witnessed over the years. However, we also know that when it comes to any medical treatment, the quality of your results will depend greatly on your surgeon’s experience, technology, and time described above.

To learn more about refractive lens exchange in St. Louis, start with Brinton Vision’s 60-second online self-test.

View the next article: How Long Does It Take to Recover From Custom Lens Replacement Surgery?

Dr. Jason P. Brinton is an internationally recognized specialist in the field of LASIK and refractive surgery. He is a graduate of Harvard College, earned his medical doctorate from the Harvard Medical School and is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.