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Lasik vs contact lenses vs spectacles - which is best (and cheapest) for you?

Lasik vs contact lenses vs spectacles - which is best (and cheapest) for you?

Statistics show that in Singapore, 1 in 2 children develop myopia by age 12, while about 83 per cent of the population becomes myopic by age 18.

Those who need to correct their eyesight due to their myopic eyesight can opt for spectacles, contact lenses and or undergo a LASIK procedure.

Each option has their own pros and cons in terms of upkeep required, freedom it enables, costs incurred, and risks to health.

To help you understand the choices that are available to you, we'll examine the each option in detail, including the expected costs - and see which is the cheapest over the long term.


Spectacles are a simple, low effort solution. You simply have to put on or take off your glasses when needed.


Spectacles are also versatile. You can easily and quickly change up your look with an endless array of stylish designs. It is even possible to opt for a coloured coating for your spectacles so they double up as sunglasses.

They are also a range of lenses with different useful functions, like progressive lenses or PC lenses that contain a blue light coating to reduce the glare caused by computer screens.

The downside to spectacles is how they are prone to wear and tear, and will need to be replaced if the lenses are scratched or if the frame is damaged. It is also not suitable for some activities, such as underwater sports or rock climbing.


Contact lenses are suitable for sports where spectacles may be inconvenient.

Contact lenses are also a solution for those who find spectacles annoying or think they look less attractive in spectacles. They also have a cosmetic function as you can alter the appearance of your eyes in terms of the colour and size of your pupils.

On the flipside, contact lenses are high maintenance as they need to be cleansed and taken care of properly every time they are removed.

There is a tendency for your eyes to feel dry after long periods of contact lens wear too. As a result, most contact lens-wearers have a double expense as they also buy a pair of spectacles as well.

If you are prone to having dry or sensitive eyes as well, the use of contact lenses may make you more susceptible to eye irritation and other problems.


is a relatively painless solution to correcting your vision. LASIK's effects are permanent, so it becomes more cost-effective the younger you do it. That said, there may be a need for presbyopic reading corrections once you pass the age of 40.


The cons of undergoing LASIK is its high upfront cost. There are limitations to the treatment too. LASIK can only correct myopia from (up to 1500 degrees), hyperopia (from 100 to 500 degrees), and astigmatism (from 50 to 400 degrees). You also need to be at least 18 years of age.

LASIK also carries potential side effects such as dry eyes, poor night vision and temporary discomfort and itchiness. Total loss of vision from LASIK is a possible, but extremely rare outcome.

In some cases, vision re-correction may be needed in the future. This can be done through LASIK enhancement surgery, or the use of contact lenses and spectacles.


Let's consider the cost-effectiveness of each option. For the comparison, these are the assumptions we are using:

  • Total cost (recurring and fixed) over a year
  • Your eyesight does not worsen
  • No damage and hence no replacement cost for each eyewear option
  • LASIK is effective for 20 years (assuming that surgery is done at age 20, and presbyopic reading corrections are needed at age 40).
Types Contacts Spectacles LASIK
Cost (per box) – Disposable dailies (about $50-$70 per box of 30)
– Disposable bi-weeklies
(about $50-$70 per box of 6)
– Disposable monthlies (about $30 per box of 3)
From $98 at Owndays for basic single vision lenses. From $2,800 at Eye Clinic Singapore International to about $4,850 at Lang Eye Centre.
Frequency of Replacement Daily, Bi-weekly or monthly Every 3 years for normal use. None if healed properly
Additional costs Contact Lens Solution (+$100) There are additional costs for optional features like progressive lenses (+$100 and up), PC lenses (+$100 and up), High Index lenses, and UV filter lenses.
Cost (Per Year) – Dailies (25 boxes) $1,500
– Bi-weeklies (8 boxes)
– Monthlies (8 boxes)
From $98 /3 years = $33 From $2,800 / 20 years = $140


Wearing spectacles would be the most cost-effective option if you are just going for a basic frame and can properly take care of it.

Although LASIK has a high upfront cost, the recurring expense of contact lenses quickly adds up to the one-off cost of a LASIK operation in as little as 2 years (dailies), 5 years (bi-weeklies), and 9 years (monthlies).

The calculations reveal LASIK to be a viably more cost-effective option if you are wearing contact lenses, assuming that the surgery goes smoothly and there are no further side effects.

However, LASIK becomes less cost-effective the older you get your vision corrected via LASIK, since your vision starts deteriorating due to age from 40 years old and will require you to spend more money for further corrections.

This article was first published on Dollars and Sense.

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