Don't Go To LasikPLUS Consultations Looking For A Free Prescription

On Friday, August 17th, we posted a Morning Deal for a free eye exam and Lasik laser corrective eye surgery consultation. Reader Andrew’s boyfriend tried the deal out and was disappointed.

Andrew writes, “My boyfriend needed a new prescription for his contacts so he signed up for the comprehensive eye exam and consultation at the Lasik Plus website. His appointment this Monday and he came back quite annoyed. The consultation and exam took an hour and a half (with a big chunk of it discussing the different financing options for the surgery) and was not told until the end that it would cost over $90 for the prescription for new contacts. Clearly this was not what was advertised so I just wanted to let you know about the discrepancy.”

Looking closer, the only mention we see of getting a free prescription was on the referring blog we got deal info from. It says nothing like that on the LasikPlus site. A review on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity confirms there’s no free prescription in the free consultation. The Consumerist regrets the error and has edited the old post to warn off future generations.

(Photo: jm3)

Comments

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  1. bambino says:

    That’s one fucked up eye.

  2. enm4r says:

    Not only was the prescription not free, but on the website specifically it mentions:

    Plan on being with our medical team for approximately 90 minutes, due to the meticulousness of this examination.

    While they might be more inclined to be meticulous about the payment, they do advertise 90 minutes…

  3. Shadowman615 says:

    Just take your business to this place:

    [www.lasikathome.com]

    :-)

  4. missdona says:

    I see ads for free Lasik exam things all the time. I can’t see why they would give you a prescription for contacts if they’re trying to sell you a surgery.

    I don’t know why one would assume that they would do other parts of an eye exam for free.

    Even though some of them are good, probably, the Lasik centers that advertise seems sketchy to me.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    Geez. That guy in the picture has smoked way too much pot.

  6. Elvisisdead says:

    Looking at that picture makes my eyes water.

  7. When you sign in and fill out the form they give you, it does tell you that they won’t be releasing documents without a $90 fee so you have to expect you aren’t getting it for free (unless you aren’t reading what you’re signing very closely). I understood that to mean prescription as well (but I asked the doctor to see if he’d do it anyway but he wouldn’t) but I can understand confusion if you were primed, via the link, to believe you were supposed to get a prescription.

  8. Death says:

    I’d love to see Consumerist do an article about Lasik deals, esp re: Americans having it done in Canada (where it is cheaper due to licensing fees).

    One school of thought is that you don’t bargain-shop something as important as eye surgery, although another line of reasoning is that because of price, budget shops do a ton of work and are more experienced.

  9. gibsonic says:

    I had lasik done at the LasikPLUS in Louisville, KY in October 2005.

    You get what you pay for. I drove 6 hours to Louisville (closest location to me at the time) to have it done.

    I didn’t want to trust my eyes to just anybody. I got the custom wavefront procedure which at the time was the most advanced procedure available for my eyes. I also decided to get the lifetime warranty for the procedure. If my eyes ever revert or need adjustment, they fix it for free.

    It’s been almost 2 years and i still see at 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 in the other.

    I have great piece of mind knowing that I chose a large national company that has done hundreds of thousands (or more) of these procedures and that they will most likely be around if I need them in 5 to 15 to 20 years. You can say that for the locally owned strip-mall Lasik office.

    They have nothing but the best customer service and staff and great facilities. Highly recommend.

  10. gibsonic says:

    correction… You CAN’T say that for the locally owned strip-mall Lasik office.

  11. mbbmd says:

    gibsonic@lasikplus.com?

    Want to bet they’ll be around in 15 years? As an eye surgeon (who does not do LASIK), I have watched “large national [companies]” go belly-up left and right.

    I tell all my patients considering LASIK to make sure they have appropriate expectations, and not to choose their surgeon out of a phone book or from a billboard.

    As one who has seen the good and the bad that can result from LASIK, I recommend never having such surgery in a storefront or in the back of a van.

  12. I used to work for an eye clinic, and two things:

    1) The free exams are very brief and introductory; they are free, after all. We never advertised that you’d get a free prescription out of it, though. I’m not sure who’s at fault for that one.

    2) An exam for contact lenses is a bit more involved than for just glasses, so that, least of all, would be complimentary.

    Also, 90 minutes does seem a bit long for something like this. An hour or so, that’s more like it.

  13. gibsonic says:

    @mbbmd:
    you may know more about eye surgery than I do, but simple economics mixed with LasikPLUS’s quality product tell me they will be around for quite some time.

    They are growing at a steady sustainable rate as the popularity of Lasik increases the cost decreases(and visa versa). As long as they continue to manage themselves the way they have been, i don’t see any market conditions that would cause them to go belly up.

  14. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @mbbmd: The only “service” I would get from the back of a van is a BJ..:)

  15. @mbbmd: Excellent advice. People would always ask, “Well, I can just get it for $500? Why not go there?”

    You can get a guy on the street to do roofing for $50 and a six-pack, and it may work out for you. However, it may not. You’ve gotta check out reputations.

  16. gibsonic says:

    @enriquez the water bottle:

    the free exam offered by LasikPLUS is not intended for people seeking a prescription for glasses or contacts. Lasik (and other forms of laser corrective surgery)is all that LasikPLUS does.

    They do a complete eye map and diagnostics on the eye so that if the paitent choses to do the custom lasik procedure they have a map to use for that that patient.

    There were more procedures carried out than a normal eye exam.

  17. @gibsonic: “the free exam offered by LasikPLUS is not intended for people seeking a prescription for glasses or contacts. Lasik (and other forms of laser corrective surgery)is all that LasikPLUS does.”

    I’m agreeing with you. I’m wondering who billed it as a prescription exam at all.

  18. gibsonic says:

    @enriquez the water bottle:

    exactly. in 2005 my custom lasik procedure with the lifetime warranty was $2600 for both eyes. that included exam, follow up visits, etc. I did the no interest financing that they offered. I then moved the balance from that card to another 0% interest credit card and have since paid it off.

    anyone budgeting for this procedure should also add in a bit extra for the expensive eye drops you need after the procedure. The steroid drops you use the first week or so ran me $50 AFTER my great prescription discount. You also need to spring for the preservative free eye drops for the first few months if you have the typical dryness.

    Concerning dry eyes. I rarely have to put drops in my eyes. Only if I’ve been in dry dust situations for too long (typical for non-lasik eyes as well) or if i’ve gone too long without sleep and stared at a tv or computer screen too long (also typical). I may have to put a drop in my eye maybe once a month on average.

  19. bambino says:

    this reminds me of tom cruise’s eye surgery in minority report.

  20. not_seth_brundle says:

    I am quite content to wear contacts and glasses for the rest of my life. Even if the risk of damage to my eyes from LASIK surgery were miniscule, it wouldn’t be worth it to me. I won’t get elective surgery on something as important as my eyes, period.

  21. gibsonic says:

    @not_seth_brundle:

    you take greater risk with your life everytime you get in a car everyday as compared to getting lasik done. places like Lasik plus do an astonishing amount of these procedures every day/month/year.

    The day I got mine I bet that no less than 25 people got it done that day. They had people booked for the actual procedure every 15-20 mintues.

    I admit. I was a bit scared but it came down to risk vs reward. The risk was negligible after educating myself and finding the best place to have it done and the reward has been amazing.

    Life takes risk. This one really was a no-brainer.

  22. not_seth_brundle says:

    @gibsonic: I don’t have a car, but that’s really beside the point.

    I’m not talking about the risk to my life. I’m talking about the risk to my eyesight. I am not taking even a one in ten billion chance of blinding myself in exchange for the minor convenience of not having to wear contacts or eyeglasses any more. Period.

    You are really sounding like a shill for Lasik. If not, I’m glad that the surgery seems to have worked out for you and hope that you don’t run into any major issues a few years or decades down the road.

  23. gibsonic says:

    ah, i see, your eyes are much more important than your life. got it. thanks for clarifying.

    sorry if i come off sounding like i’ve got a stiffy for LasikPLUS. I just really had a good experience there and it’s people like you that keep their head buried in the sand (which isn’t very good for your eyes…all that sand) that keep saying how dangerous it is or whatever.

    it’s amazing that you are posting on the internet and all. aren’t you afraid of the spaghetti monster coming through your computer screen to steal all of your personal data and give it to a basement full of hackers?

  24. nickripley says:

    I’m not a doctor, but aren’t there two Lasik-esque surgeries, a regular one, and then “PRK?” I’ve heard PRK is VERY painful, but it is supposedly a much better surgery.

  25. nickripley says:

    @gibsonic: Lay off it, buddy! You do come across sounding a little too enthusiastic about this. Even though I’m 20/20, I’d never consider this surgery. There are concerns about the long-term effects it has. I’ve encouraged many friends to heavily consider that, as well.

  26. not_seth_brundle says:

    @gibsonic: My eyes, my choice. What’s it to you if I don’t want to get Lasik surgery? Could it be you make money off of people who get Lasik surgery?

  27. lilyHaze says:

    Lasik is very tempting (and I’m still on the fence). I have horrible eyes, and my eyes water a lot when I’m wearing my contacts. But the back part of my brain still wonders about long-term side effects.

    My workplace offers “tax-free” health savings plan that covers the surgery. I have to plan it in advance, but I don’t have to pay income tax on it. When I do end up getting it, I also plan on going to a quality (not a discount) place.

  28. @nickripley: PRK was an original form of LASIK where no flap is made. It does carry more discomfort with it because of that, and recent LASIK advances have made either surgery quite accurate. Where PRK still gets play is with people who have very thin corneas. The LASIK flap can be too thick to be safe in that situation, so PRK is used.

  29. Xkeeper says:

    @not_seth_brundle:

    “1:1,000,000 chance of going blind”

    I dare say you have a better chance of getting severely injured just by leaving home.

    I have bad enough eyesight that I actually have to wear glasses to drive, and this does sound like a lifesaver. Forgetting your glasses can mean a lot of headaches…

  30. BrockBrockman says:

    @not_seth_brundle: LOL @ “shill for Lasik.”

    Shill for Lasik.

    Anyways, I’m never one much for elective surgery. Sorry that the guy in the story got mislead, though. The worst kind of time spendt is the kind where people are checking your credit and trying to give you “finance options.”

  31. not_seth_brundle says:

    @Xkeeper: Yes and leaving home is worth the risk to me; getting elective surgery on my eyes is not. You bring up a good point though: if my eyesight were much worse than it is, the benefits of surgery might start to outweigh the risks.

  32. BrockBrockman says:

    @gibsonic: Oh yeah, and blindness isn’t so much my problem with Lasik as ghosting and starbursts.

  33. gibsonic says:

    @BrockBrockman:

    heh…funny you should mention ghosting and starburst.

    not only did my regular vision improve, but my night vision, including starburst reduction/elimination, improved.

    i get no money or kick back from lasikplus…

    i had pretty bad vision and fussed with contacts and glasses for 15 years. i sometimes have to remind myself that I use to have to wear contacts and glasses and remember what my life was like hassling with them. I have sensitive eyes and contacts ended up being way to hard on my eyes so I had to go with glasses which get dirty, scratch, have limited peripheral vision, get lost, get broken, can’t swim with glasses or play active sports (without even worse glasses etc). I play competitive soccer and this was a god send for me.

    maybe some of your were blessed with good vision or at least a high tolerance for contacts, but for those of us that were limited by these, Lasik is great.

  34. Mojosan says:

    I had laser eye surgery 6 years ago. I went from 20/50 in each eye to 20/20.

    My night vision is now normal where as with my contacts I was getting to the point of being concerned driving at night.

    People actually have good experiences wiht things sometimes. Just because a profit is being made does not mean it’s stupid or everyone who speaks positively is a shill.

  35. FLConsumer says:

    I’m still holding off on the various laser eye surgeries for now. There’s better products in the wings which are less destructive. I only have two eyes. They don’t work perfectly, but I’ll take that over the possible complications.

  36. Trai_Dep says:

    Guys, this blog is called Consumerist. Not Whineist. It’s perfectly fine (great, even) to announce, far and wide, your satisfaction with a product or service.

    Accusing satisfied customers of being shills is beneath you, isn’t it? :)

  37. timmus says:

    Just like FLCONSUMER I too am waiting for the risks and costs to settle down a bit. The new no-fuss contact lens solutions have made contacts almost a trivial part of life. The only annoyance is having to take them out at night and put them in in the morning, and I suppose if I travel by air I’ve got to deal with the bullshit of not being able to pack solution.

    Strangely enough the only reason I am interested in the surgical procedures is some concern about peak oil and economic turmoil… if the quality of living takes a nosedive over the next 20 or 30 years, I’d better not be depending on Acuvues.

  38. not_seth_brundle says:

    @trai_dep: And it’s perfectly fine on this blog to announce that you personally don’t want to partake of a particular service, right? It’s only after someone called me out for expressing that choice and began to taunt me about spaghetti monsters that it seemed to me that person was taking my comment way too personally.

  39. mbbmd says:

    Go to any meeting of ophthalmologists. Most of us are nearsighted. Most of us haven’t had LASIK (even for free). This is a group of highly informed folks (i.e. our heads are not in the sand).

    LASIK is a great procedure for many, but it, like any surgery, is never completely harmless.

    And we should all be concerned when health care is sold just like any other commodity, as LASIK often is. Caveat emptor.

  40. thepounder says:

    My $.02… Currently I’m on or about 20/450 in my right eye and 20/500 in the left (can’t remotely make out the huge “E” on an eye chart; it’s a big black blob). I’ve worn glasses or contacts since I was 6 & I’ve been in contacts now about 16 years… I hate it really.
    Considering I’m pretty well blind as a bat without some form of corrective lenses I’m going to investigate LASIK when I get back from my deployment to see if they might be able to help me.
    One question for anyone who may have insight — can LASIK help correct astigmatism as well? I’ve got moderate astigmatism in both eyes, but it’s not too horrible. Just curious about that…

  41. Trai_Dep says:

    @not_seth_brundle: true. I was trying not to refer to any one post. but yeah, the other dude should have said, “Fair point. Next.”

    :)

  42. DTWD says:

    If I wasn’t scared of the procedure, I’d probably get the surgery. I don’t like the idea of being awake while a sharp tool scrapes away at my eyes.

  43. @thepounder: Yes, it can.

  44. thepounder says:

    @enriquez the water bottle: Awesome. Thank you. I hadn’t really started digging for deeper info on LASIK yet, seeing as I have to wait a while to get it.
    Now it seems like a much more appealing idea, knowing I may not have to endure halos around every streetlight when I’m driving at night.

    About the article — it’d be nice to get a free scrip, but for me I just prefer seeing my same Optometrist each time. He’s a bit grumpy sometimes and reminds me of the Quaker Oats man, Wilford Brimley, but boy does he know how to get my new contacts just right.
    As far as costs, I actually wouldn’t mind paying $90 for a prescription — I typically pay on or about $160, but I get all the eye tests done each time I go in.

    Nice pic of Bob Ross, BTW… Happy Trees.

  45. m.ravian says:

    lasers. in. your. eye.

    i’ll happily coke bottle my way through the rest of my life, thanks (20/600 in each eye!).

  46. m.ravian says:

    @timmus:
    you read The Long Emergency, didn’t you?

    messed me up too…

  47. clickable says:

    @pfblueprint:

    “unless you aren’t reading what you’re signing very closely” – well, that’s why you need vision correction in the first place, right ;-) ?

  48. @clickable: touche. :)

  49. laddibugg says:

    @gibsonic:

    One doesn’t really need to see when they are dead.

    You can’t do anything about risks to your life, but you can choose not to risk your eyes.

  50. hercules q. einstein says:

    @ThePounder: For astigmatism, I would look into LASEK instead of LASIK. It has a longer recovery period, but is much less invasive and low risk for complications. It is also useful for those who aren’t candidates for LASIK due to extreme myopia or astigmatism. I had it last year and went from -9 in both eyes to close to 20/20.

    I don’t know if I would have gotten LASIK if I had mild nearsightedness. I was blind to the point where I was helpless without contacts – and decided to get LASIK after my contacts fell out during the 9/11 debris storm after the Towers fell. Thank goodness for the coworker who led me by the arm for the walk to Brooklyn. It was a wake-up call for me and I am very happy with the results and the peace of mind it has given me.

  51. Rusted says:

    @thepounder:Most of my astigmatism is gone. Mild regression though, I’m four years post LASIK and I’m 20/30 and 20/40.

    Some things you should know. It wasn’t all that painless. My dry eye lasted nine months before it went away. I still have problems if the humidity drops very low.

    Also, once done, NEVER rub your eyes. The cornea flaps just sit there and it takes awhile before they heal fully. I’ve heard anything from one year to two, to never. If displaced, the only solution is a transplant. So, I don’t rub my eyes. Ever.

    Halos and starbursts….had em’ all my life, a few floaters as well, nothing new to me.

  52. 75Sasha says:

    I had custom LASIK in 5/07 at TLC Lasik in Westchester IL and they were wonderful. A bit pricey (just under 4 grand) but it came with a lifetime guarantee. I went from -3 in each eye to 20/10 and as of this week I still see at that level. Yes it was one of the scariest things I’ve volunteered for, since the reason I could never wear contacts was due to an extreme phobia of anything in my eye. This made the surgery the longest 5 minutes of my life. They gave me a double dose of Valium to calm me.

    I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin when I had one eye taped shut and they cut the cornea open. At this point you can only see out of the one uncovered eye and once the cornea is cut open and pealed back your vision turns to dirty dishwater. Your brain flips out, as it should if all of a sudden you can’t see, but you have to sit there and try to focus on this orange dot (the laser) while they shape your eye. It was only 25-30 seconds per eye, the prep and clean-up for each eye take longer than the surgery.

    Would I do it again? Absolutely. Did I freak out my parents who sat there while the surgeon explained and demonstrated everything he was going to do to my eyes? Yes. I sat in the waiting room with as much nervous energy as any hyper 5 yr old can muster until I was called in. But is was worth it. I highly recommend it.

  53. PinkBox says:

    @nickripley – if you’ve always had 20/20 vision, of course you’d never consider Lasik. Try dealing with contacts/glasses every day, and you’d probably change your opinion. :P

    I was terrified of having Lasik done, but now that I am 4 months post-op, I couldn’t be happier!

    @thepounder – yes, it can fix astignatism. I had heavy astignatism myself. It depends on where you go, and if they have the newest technology.