Why People in New York Are Obsessed With LASIK Surgery?

LASIK, or laser eye-correction surgery, has grown in popularity, especially among the super-rich on the East Coast who have access to the world-renowned LASIK surgeons.

The LASIK surgery with an experienced doctor can cost more than $4,000 per both eyes, even with an introductory discount offer. For the New York wealthy, a surgery like this is little more than a drop in the bucket. It’s conspicuous consumption for the self. For some, it’s even a choice of self-preservation: the CEO of Reddit, Steve Huffman, got laser eye surgery in 2015 out of fear that without it, he wouldn’t be able to survive a civil society breakdown.

“If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain,” he told the New Yorker in early 2017. Yishan Wong, an early Facebook employee and CEO of Reddit from 2012 to 2014, also got laser eye surgery for survival purposes.

Check out a few more quotes from the famous people who did LASIK below.

Dwayne Wade: “I know it’s gonna help my life, it might help me shoot better, so watch out!”

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Cindy Crawford: “It’s great to wake up in the middle of the night and watch television without my glasses, and, best of all, I can drive without glasses or contacts.”

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Michael Bolton: “It is just life-altering. …The green looked greener, the blue looked bluer. Everything looked more vivid. Everything was brighter.”

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Tiger Woods: “I was getting headaches from squinting all the time.”

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LASIK works by first numbing the eyes with special eye drops and then reshaping the cornea by using a laser to cut a flap in that part of the eye. The patient is awake during the entire procedure. It is an FDA-approved surgery that’s been in use since the mid-90s. Although it has been in use and grown in popularity since its introduction, it is still an elective surgery – not everyone is qualified (read more here) and not everyone can afford it. Read the LASIK FAQs here.  While the New York elite pays cash for this way to maintain a youthful, vigorous image, the others can easily apply for a financial plan to support their surgery.

But there are still concerning side effects. A small percentage of respondents said that although LASIK had corrected most of their vision problems, they were disappointed that they still had to wear their contact lenses or glasses sometimes. Another small percentage of respondents also reported having experienced burning, blurry vision, and dry eyes even up to six months after they got the surgery. Read more about risk involved with LASIK here.

So if there are so many concerning side effects, why is it so popular in New York? Think of it like the eyelash extension or colored contact trends: it’s all about keeping up appearances.