Lasik Surgery During Covid-19 For Tired Eyes? What to Know

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Lasik eye surgery is making a comeback.

After months of face masks fogging up their glasses and contacts drying out from all the extra Zoom meetings while working from home, Americans are fed up and are boosting demand for the corrective surgery that had waned in popularity over the past decade.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers have cut back on activities, like overseas travel and entertainment, and for many that has left a big pot of cash to be spent elsewhere. A lot of that has been poured into home improvement and buying cars. And now consumers are shifting to upgrading themselves with procedures like Lasik and its starting price tag of about $4,500.

Foggy glasses are one of the reasons Americans, especially 20-somethings, are turning to Lasik surgery.

Source: Getty Images

In Los Angeles, Dr. Neda Shamie, an opthalmic surgeon, has seen a 30% jump in Lasik procedures at her practice, the Maloney Shamie Vision Institute. It’s being driven by younger adults, with the average age of a patient falling to 34 years old, a seven-year drop from the early 2000s, she said. Her group did an informal survey of other big eye-care practices around the country, and they reported similar gains.

“People have budgets set aside for travel and are converting their travel budget into self improvement,” Shamie said. And our patients are “telling us the glasses-mask conundrum is real.”

More than 30 Lasik systems have been approved since Laser Sight Technologies Inc.’s Kremer Excimer Laser System won U.S. approval for the surgery in 1998. After an initial boom in the early 2000’s, Lasik’s growth slowed as the Great Recession reduced disposable income and the Food and Drug Administration warned of dodgy advertising practices.

relates to Covid’s Foggy Glasses Spawn Lasik Surgery Revival

Online searches in the U.S. for the procedure peaked in 2004 and had bottomed out earlier this year before spiking when the pandemic hit, according to Google Trends. The industry is now forecast to hit $4.1 billion in sales by 2027, more than doubling 2018’s total, according to consulting firm Coherent Market Insights.

Lasik’s revival is part of an industry-wide boom in elective procedures during the pandemic. Quarantines and social-distancing caused weight gain and more self-consciousness with all the time on video chats. That’s led to spikes in Botox injections, breast implants and repairing droopy eyelids for the group of Americans who haven’t suffered financially during the Covid-triggered recession.

Related story: The Pandemic Has Caused a Boom in Plastic Surgery

People who are working remotely are also more confident to go under the knife because they can recover at home, according to Jared Holz, a health strategist at Jefferies.

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Luke Everdeen

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