Astigmatic keratotomy (AK) is used in cases of astigmatism, in which the cornea is not completely round, but is curved more in one direction than the other. The procedure makes small incisions into the cornea in order to change its curvature, to make it more symmetrically round, allowing it to refract light differently. This can reduce or eliminate the distortions or blurriness in vision that can result from astigmatism. The type of incisions used are almost always limbal relaxing incisions (LRI), made near the edge of the cornea, but could also include corneal relaxing incisions (CRI), closer to the center of the cornea, in some cases. This procedure is sometimes used along with other types of refractive surgical procedures, such as LASIK or other laser eye surgery, if astigmatism is present along with other vision problems.
If you’re choosing to have refractive surgery, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that AK is right for you, then proceed. You can learn more about the AK procedure, its risks and benefits, in our Education Wiki.
The fee for AK is generally around $500 to $600 per eye (if you’re having the procedure performed on both eyes, as most people do, then you should double the per-eye price to estimate your total).
Keep in mind that this is only an average; it varies by region and by individual clinic, so you should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine their exact fee for the procedure. Ask what’s included in that fee, to make sure you aren’t surprised by extra costs when you get the bill later.
The price for AK should include your procedure and all the necessary follow-up visits. Because several follow-up visits are needed during the year after the procedure, you should make sure that these visits are included in the price of your procedure, or you could find that the cost of these visits adds significantly to your AK cost.
Will Insurance Cover It?
Unfortunately, insurance does not typically cover refractive surgical procedures such as AK. Medical insurance policies don’t cover vision care; a separate vision insurance policy is needed for that. However, even a vision insurance policy almost never covers vision correction procedures, as they’re considered elective, cosmetic procedures; policies cover glasses, and might cover contacts, but won’t cover surgical vision correction. So you’ll need to figure out how to pay for your refractive surgery on your own.
What Are the Financing Options?
To many people, paying thousands of dollars up front seems impossible. However, if you don’t already have the money saved, you have many options available for financing. Many refractive surgery clinics offer financing plans for their patients. You can also get a medical credit card or other credit card, often with an attractive introductory interest rate; a medical loan, personal loan, or home equity loan from your bank; a loan from your 401(k); or loans or gifts from family and friends. Even if your credit isn’t great, you’d be surprised how many options you have. For more details about the financing options for your procedure, check out our Refractive Surgery Financing page.