Staring at US Recession, Lasik Eye Surgery Blinks

As with last downturn, fewer people springing for corrective procedure
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2008 11:31 AM CDT
MTV reality TV star Kristin Cavallari receives all-laser Lasik from Robert Maloney, MD.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Corrective laser eye surgeries have declined sharply in the past year, a fall-off attributed to the economic slump—and expected to deepen as the recession continues, the New York Times reports. “We’re forecasting a 17% drop for 2008,” said one market researcher, who expects first-quarter data to reveal a bigger drop than during the 2001 downturn—which sent Lasik operations into a three-year tailspin.

Botox injections and breast implants have also been less popular, but eye doctors are hurting most. The operations retail at $800-$3,000 per eye, and are typically not covered by insurance. There is a strong correlation between the number of Lasik procedures and consumer confidence indices, and players in the business have cut sales and earnings estimates and seen stocks decline.