The Real Cost Of Perfect Eyesight: LASIK, SMILE and More

The Real Cost Of 20/20 Perfect Eyesight: Spectacles, Contact Lenses, LASIK And SMILE

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The Real Cost Of Perfect Eyesight: LASIK, SMILE and More

There may be hidden costs on every dollar you spend. The Real Cost, a SingSaver Series, uncovers all the unexpected expenses you’re incurring.


From spectacles to contact lenses and corrective eye surgery (LASIK and SMILE), this is the math behind perfect eyesight in Singapore.

The struggle to see is real, and so is the pain inflicted on the pocket.

We are well aware that being myopic isn’t exactly considered life-threatening, but living with imperfect eyesight in one of the most expensive cities in the world does not come cheap.

So, if you are just like us and require vision correction aids to see clearly beyond 1m, read on to find out the real cost of perfect eyesight in Singapore.

For the purpose of the calculations involved, they will be based on Felicia and Gordon. Felicia has low myopia and astigmatism. She wears spectacles throughout the day, contact lenses on four days a month and is considering corrective eye surgery.

Gordon is highly myopic but does not have astigmatism. He wears contact lenses for most of the day, changes to spectacles when at home and is also considering corrective eye surgery.

Last updated on 19 April 2021. Prices are subject to change without prior notice. The calculations below are estimates, and prices of prescription spectacles, contact lenses and corrective eye surgery may vary depending on pre-existing eye conditions, credit card discounts, among others. As far as possible, mid-range items from mid-tier brands are selected for this guide.

Prescription spectacles

Full-rim, half-rim, plastic, steel, titanium, sports and more—spectacles have come a long way since they were first invented back in the early 13th century. And when it comes to correcting vision aids, they are the most common and affordable option—if you aren’t brand-conscious. 

As Felicia wears spectacles throughout the day, she needs a sturdy pair with special lenses that block out blue light to reduce eye strain.

Shop/brandType of spectaclesType of lensPrice
Oscar WyleePlastic frame (full-rim) Basic + polycarbonate lens2 for $199 + $50 for pc lens
1 for $124.50
OwndaysPlastic frame (full-rim) Basic + blue light lens$138 + $100 for blue light lens = $238
FopticsPlastic frame + metal (full-rim)Basic + BluShield lens$15.90 + $44 for BluShield lens = $59.90
Average price for a pair

$140.80

Since Gordon only wears spectacles at home, he only requires a basic pair. 

Shop/brandType of spectaclesType of lensPrice
LenskartPlastic frame (full-rim) spectaclesBasic$118
OwndaysPlastic frame (full-rim) spectaclesBasic$138 
FopticsPlastic + metal frame (full-rim) spectaclesHi-index lens (for those who have high myopia)$15.90 + $44 for hi-index lens = $59.90
Average price for a pair

$105.30

Contact lenses

With Singapore’s warm weather, it’s extremely uncomfortable to wear a face mask and pair of spectacles—that fogs up every time you breathe out—over a long period of time without losing your cool. 

That’s where contact lenses come in. No additional weight on the face, and while your eyes may feel a little dry at the end of the day, it is a small price to pay for hours of comfort.

Felicia’s degree for both eyes are the same and she wears daily disposable contact lenses made for astigmatism, four days a month.

Shop/brandType of contact lensLifespan of contact lensPrice
Lensmart Singapore, AcuvueMoist for AstigmatismDaily$57 for 15 pairs = $3.80/pair
Contactsdaily, Bausch & LombSofLens Daily Disposable for AstigmatismDaily$54.95 for 15 pairs = $3.66/pair
Lens Fit, AlconAqua Comfort Plus for AstigmatismDaily$41.00 for 15 pairs = $2.73/pair
Average price 

$3.38/pair
Per month 

$13.52

Gordon’s degree for both eyes are the same and he wears regular monthly disposable contact lenses—more affordable as compared to dailies. To keep his contact lenses clean, he needs a bottle of contact lens cleaning solution every month. 

Shop/brandType of contact lensLifespan of contact lensPrice
Lensmart Singapore, AlconAir Optix HydraglydeMonthly$31.90 for 3 pairs = $10.63/pair
Contactsdaily, Bausch & LombSofLens 38Monthly$29.95 for 3 pairs = $9.98/pair
Lens Fit, CopperVisionBiomedics 55 EvolutionMonthly$26.00 for 3 pairs = $8.67/pair
Guardian, Bausch & LombRenu Fresh$25.50 for 3 bottles = $8.50/bottle
Average price per month

$9.76/pair + $8.50/bottle = $18.26

Corrective eye surgery (LASIK and SMILE)

For those looking for a permanent solution, you might want to consider corrective eye surgery. No longer just for the rich, corrective eye surgery has become more affordable and accessible over the years.

Not to mention, if your surgery was not met with any complications, recovery would take no longer than a couple of days. Below, we calculate the average cost of LASIK and SMILE, two of the most common corrective eye surgeries in Singapore. 

LASIK

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is a relatively quick surgery that takes no longer than 10 minutes. 

It starts with using a laser to create a flap of sorts that is folded backwards to expose your cornea. After which, another laser is used to remove a small piece of your cornea, before the flap is folded back to its original position. 

LASIK is suitable for those whose myopia is under 2,000 degrees, astigmatism under 400 degrees, and low to moderate hyperopia. 

ClinicType of corrective eye surgeryDetailsPrice
Eagle Eye CentreEpi-LASIKFor those who have thin corneasConsultation: From $33
Surgery: From $3,250

Approximately from $3,283
Eagle Eye CentreFemto LASIKFaster recovery and suitable for those who have thick corneasConsultation: From $33
Surgery: From $3,450

Approximately from  $3,483
Asia Pacific Eye CentreStandard LASIKStandard refractive surgeryFrom $2,980.35
Asia Pacific Eye CentreILASIK Wavefront CustomisedSimilar to standard LASIK but with a lower risk of side effectsFrom $3,724.67
Singapore National Eye CentreLASIKStandard refractive surgeryConsultation
Consultant: $109.14 
Senior Consultant: $123.05

Assessment: $85.60

Surgery 
SNEC Assigned Doctor: $1,498
Consultant: $1,659
Senior Consultant: $1,766

Approximately from  $1,692.74
Singapore National Eye CentreLASIK XtraFor those who have thin corneasConsultation
Consultant: $109.14 
Senior Consultant: $123.05

Assessment: $162.64

Surgery
SNEC Assigned Doctor: $2,333 
Consultant: $2,493
Senior Consultant: $2,600

Approximately from  $2,604.78
W Eye ClinicLASIKStandard refractive surgeryConsultation: $135.00 to $200.00

Assessment: $107.00

Surgery: $3,625.16
Average price for LASIK

From $3,056.24

SMILE or ReLEx SMILE

SMILE (SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a relatively new laser correction surgery that uses a single laser to remove a small piece of your cornea through an incision. As it is bladeless and less invasive compared to LASIK, recovery is quick and the risk of side effects is low. 

The surgery takes no longer than a few minutes to complete, which means that you could schedule it for the morning and still make it to high tea with the girls at 3pm! 

SMILE is suitable for those whose myopia is less than 1,000 degrees and astigmatism under 500 degrees. 

ClinicType of corrective eye surgeryPrice
Atlas Eye Specialist CentreReLEx SMILEConsultation: From $172
Surgery: $5,359
Medication: $99

From $5,630
Singapore National Eye CentreSMILEConsultation
Consultant: $109.14 
Senior Consultant: $123.05

Assessment: $85.60

Surgery
Consultant: $2,341
Senior Consultant: $2,448

From $2,535.74
Asia Pacific Eye CentreReLEx SMILEFrom $4,805.37
W Eye ClinicReLEx SMILEFrom $5,337.16
Average price for ReLEx SMILE or SMILE
From $4,577.07

On average, you can expect to fork out approximately $3,816.66 for corrective eye surgery in Singapore. 

Note: As LASIK and SMILE classify as cosmetic surgery, they are not covered by Medisave. 

This means you would have to dig into your savings and fork out cash for the procedure. Vanity is indeed expensive. 

To make it slightly more affordable, most eye clinics do offer some form of installment plan. Alternatively, you could also charge it on the right credit card to earn reward points, air miles or cashback that can be used to offset your monthly overheads. Some even give you the option to split large purchases into monthly installments at 0% interest rate! 

Conclusion

Many have the preconceived mindset that eye surgeries last for a lifetime. 

That may be mostly true for SMILE, but not for those who have undergone LASIK. Depending on pre-existing conditions and how you care for your new-found 20/20 vision, a study found that 35% of those who underwent LASIK sought retreatment after 10 years. 

To ensure that the final numbers are fairly represented, we calculate the cost of vision correcting aids over a period of 10 years. 

Type of vision correcting aidFeliciaGordon
Spectacles, changed once every 2 years as encouraged by most opticians and optometrists$140.80/pair

$704 for 5 pairs over 10 years
$105.30/pair

$526.50 for 5 pairs over 10 years
Contact lenses$13.52/month

$1,622.40 for 10 years
$18.26/month

$2,191.20 for 10 years
Price paid for vision correcting aids over 10 years$2,326.40$2,717.70

Here’s how they stack up against each other. 

Person/Vision correcting itemSpectacles and contact lensesCorrective eye surgery – LASIKCorrective eye surgery – SMILE
Felicia$2,326.40From $3,056.24From $4,577.07
Gordon$2,717.70From $3,056.24From $4,577.07

Expensive. 

Who knew that wearing spectacles and contact lenses could cost so much? That’s equivalent to the cost of a 6D5N staycation with room service at a 4- or 5-star hotel or a swanky 27” Apple iMac with some upgrades. 

Based on the numbers, corrective eye surgery does live up to its hype and prove to be more affordable in the long run (20 to 40 years). However, that is assuming: 

  • The surgery was not met with any complications that may require follow-ups or additional medication.
  • You take great care of your eyes post-surgery (i.e. not read in the dark, scroll Instagram while lying down, etc.).
  • You do not need to seek retreatment after a decade.

Were the numbers what you had expected, or were you expecting a lower price tag?

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By Geralyne Ong
A lover of gin and all things Nigella Lawson, Geralyne’s a big believer of #Adulting. She spends her leisure time serving fur-babies and doing as many mountain climbers and kettlebell swings as she possibly can.