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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. (Read more Lasik eye surgery stories.)