Labelled as the “Myopia Capital of the World” and highlighted by ex-Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health Dr Lam Pin Min, almost 83% of young adults in Singapore are currently myopic, and those numbers are expected to climb. It is projected that by 2050, 80% to 90% of all Singaporean adults will be myopic and 15% to 25% of these individuals will have high myopia.
With the rise in affluence and number of myopic individuals in Singapore, there is a growing interest in going for LASIK surgery to reduce the dependency on glasses or contact lenses. The good news is that the cost of LASIK in Singapore has been reduced over the years, likely due to the improvement in eye surgery technology and greater accessibility to ophthalmological resources in Singapore.
Are You Eligible For LASIK?
However, not everyone can go for LASIK surgery. To qualify for the surgery, your eyesight should not be too poor and you should be in good health. Even though having LASIK can save you money in the long term compared to wearing contact lenses, it should be important to note that there are many key considerations to take note before going under the knife.
You can go for LASIK if
- You are at least 18 years old (some experts say 21 years old), because your eyes only stop growing when you reach adulthood
- Your eyesight has stabilised for at least a year
- You are in good health
If you’re any younger, your eye-sight may not have stabilised yet. If you are in your 40s, you may need reading glasses as you age even with LASIK.
LASIK isn’t advisable if you:
- Have very high refractive error, for example, myopia of more than 1000 degrees, hyperopia of more than 400 degrees, and astigmatism of more than 400 degrees. Results tend to be less predictable and satisfactory for patients with these conditions.
- Younger than 18 years old
- Eye prescription was unstable in the past 12 months
- In poor health
- Have pre-existing eye disease(s), including cataracts
- Are a pregnant woman or are nursing
- Have dry eye syndrome
- Have thin corneas
Cost Breakdown For Different Types Of Surgery
While it is a common perception that there is only one type of surgery to correct myopia, there are actually 3 surgeries available in Singapore that correct your eyesight. If you find the standard LASIK surgery too invasive (cutting directly into your cornea), you can opt for less invasive but more expensive options.
|Treatment||Surgery Procedure||Cost (both eyes)|
|Invasive surgery: A flap is made on the surface of your cornea, another laser is used to correct the refractive error and the flap is folded back.||$3,500 to $5000|
|Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA)
|Non-invasive surgery: A thin layer of cells are removed on the surface of the cornea, followed by sculpting the cornea tissue and correcting the refractive errors using a laser and a protective contact lens is placed over the eye until the surface cells grow back within a few days
(no-flap, no-incision, surface-based procedure)
|$3,600 to $4,000|
|ReLEx SMILE (Refractive Lenticule Extraction, Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)
|Minimally invasive surgery: A small incision is made (instead of a flap) on the surface of the eye using a laser, and the refractive lenticular is removed from the micro-incision, and the cornea curvature is corrected as it collapses into the empty space.||$5,000 to $6,000|
For this article, we will examine the cost implications of doing LASIK surgery specifically.
Is It Cheaper To Do LASIK In Public Or Private Hospitals / Clinics?
For budget-conscious individuals who are eager to compare between public and private hospitals and clinics, you will be glad (or disappointed) to know that LASIK prices are similar across most institutions. Clinics and hospitals are also not advised to give discounts or promotions for LASIK surgeries because of concerns that it will be taken up unnecessarily by the public.
It would also be wise to be aware of deceptive pricing; some operators may tout lower or discounted prices for a part of the surgery but increase prices when it comes to other parts of the surgery.
In general, the costs for LASIK can be broken down into 3 main steps, starting with assessment, followed by surgery, then post-op follow up and/ or medication post-surgery.
Expected Total Costs Of LASIK
Here we have listed a comparative table between public hospitals and private hospitals / clinics. Do take note that this may not include additional costs like follow-up surgery and additional rounds of medication due to post-surgery complications. With a broad overview however, it can be seen that in general public hospitals are slightly cheaper than private hospitals and clinics but the price range for public hospitals can vary greatly too.
|Public Hospitals||Private Hospitals / Clinics||Price Verdict|
*excluding assessments and additional follow up costs
|$102, National University Hospital (NUH)
$159 to $164, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)
$109.14 to $123.05, Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) with additional $85.60 for Suitability Assessment
|$37.50, Clearvision Eye Clinic & LASIK Centre
$107.50, W Eye Clinic
$27.00 for age 18 to 49, $161.00 for age 50 and up, LSC Eye Clinic
$172.00, Atlas Eye Centre
|Some private clinics offer a cheaper assessment, but bear in mind there might be hidden costs|
|Standard LASIK surgery* (both eyes)
*excluding other types of vision corrective surgery and additional costs
|$2000.00 to $3200.00, TTSH
$2364.00 to $3532.00, SNEC
$3532.00 to $4708.00, NUH
|$3198, LSC Eye Clinic
$3625.16, W Eye Clinic
$3,688.00, Clearvision Eye Clinic & LASIK Centre
$2959.00 to $4059.00, Atlas Eye Centre
|Standard LASIK surgery is cheaper at public hospitals, but private hospitals and clinics may offer a fixed price which can be easier to estimate costs|
|Post-operation medication||$50 to $150||$50 to $150||Subject to individual response(s) to surgery|
|Total Average Cost||TTSH: $2209 to $3514
SNEC: $2608.74 to $3890.65
NUH: $3684 to $4960
|LSC Eye Clinic: $3275 to $3509
W Eye Clinic: $3782.66 to $3882.66
Clearvision Eye Clinic & LASIK Centre: $3775.50 to $3875.50
Atlas Eye Centre:
$3181 to $4381
|Public hospitals are cheaper, but not by much. The price range is wider for public hospitals as well, likely pegged to the degree of difficulty in executing the surgery|
#1 LASIK Eye Evaluation
To go for LASIK or any form vision correction procedure, you’ll need to first go for a comprehensive eye evaluation to check if you’re a suitable candidate.
It can be cheaper to do the pre-LASIK assessment at a private hospital or clinic, but do take note there may be additional costs involved like further assessment fees, follow up costs etc. It will be good to call or email the clinic before heading down for a consultation.
#2 Cost Breakdown Of LASIK Surgery
Once the hospital or clinic deem you to be a suitable candidate for LASIK, you can then follow up with surgery. The costs between public hospitals and private clinics do not differ much.
The following costs are tallied for standard LASIK only, for more advanced types of surgery you may have to check in with the individual hospitals or clinics.
As can be seen, the price range for standard LASIK surgery is similar across public and private hospitals and clinics, with public hospitals being slightly cheaper. Tan Tock Seng Hospital has among the lowest starting prices for LASIK, but the waiting time for the surgery might be longer, so it would be good to plan the surgery months in advance.
Another thing to note is that while public hospitals offer a price range for the LASIK surgery, private hospitals and clinics mostly provide a single priced package. If you prefer to have the full costs of the surgery tallied up before going under the knife, you may opt for the latter instead.
#3 Post-operative LASIK medication
After the operation is over, you will still have to take prescribed medication for your eyes, such as antibiotics, steroids and eye drops. If sleep becomes a problem during the recovery phase, the doctor might also prescribe sleeping pills to help.
Generally, the fees for these prescriptions would be included in the surgery package, but some clinics exclude medication from the billing for the operation, which may cost you an additional $50 to $150.
As can be seen, the costs between private and public hospitals for LASIK do not differ by much. What will be more important is the reputation and success rates for the individual hospitals and clinics for their patients.
Can I Use My Medisave To Pay For LASIK?
Usually not. Medisave is used for medical and surgical procedures. While LASIK is surgical, it isn’t always a medical procedure as much as it is a cosmetic one. However, you can use Medisave to defray costs if:
- There is a difference of 300 degrees or more between your two eyes
- LASIK is performed to correct errors from previous procedures such as a cataract surgery
- Your doctor certifies that you cannot tolerate contact lenses or spectacles
Since LASIK is a day procedure, you can claim up to $300 a day for hospital charges which include a maximum of $30 for your doctor’s fee. This set of expenses can only be claimed if you meet any of the above criteria and you should also check your Integrated Shield Plan or Medishield coverage for whether you are covered under private or public hospitals, additional deductibles and co-insurance payable.
Given that the costs of LASIK can still be quite high though prices have fallen over the years, it is important for you to consider if you need the additional convenience LASIK provides. In a small number of cases, the improvement in eyesight is not permanent, so you should consider that as a potential risk factor too. Overall, LASIK is a relatively safe procedure to undergo should you decide to want to aim for that 20/20 eyesight, but you should take some time to consider opportunity costs as well.