COVID-19’s Unintended Upside: A LASIK Surge

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on January 4, 2021

COVID-19 threw the world into a tailspin this year, prompting lockdowns, business restrictions and mandates that will reverberate well into 2021. Oddly, while the global pandemic has put a pinch on normal activities, the crisis has shifted the focus on better quality of life—namely through better nutrition, health, mental health and of course vision.

After the initial lockdowns were lifted and medical offices started seeing patients again, an interesting phenomenon occurred in the eye care world: requests for LASIK increased. At first blush, laser vision correction wouldn’t seem to be high on one’s mid-pandemic agenda. But inquiries about laser eye surgery spiked as practices began to reopen. Based on our experience and conversations we’ve had with patients, we have some theories about why…

We realized new downsides of glasses and contact lenses.

The concept of mask fog—long the bane of bespectacled front-line medical workers—entered the broader public consciousness. Every exhaled breath rendered us more sight-impaired than going without glasses. When the never-ending mist became a daily battle for the masses, the masses looked for solutions. We can’t say for sure, but the aggravation of foggy glasses may have been one of the biggest drivers for permanent vision correction in 2020.

As the general public learned more about the novel coronavirus and how it spreads, concern over contracting the virus through contact with the mucous membrane of the eye also soared. Putting in and taking out contact lenses (or even putting on and removing eyeglasses) has taken on a different perspective.

The ripple effect caused by the pandemic also affected contact lens wearers in a unique way. As retailers limited the number of shoppers in-store, and consumers relied more on home delivery, the strain on shipping companies became apparent: Deliveries came late or not at all, leaving some without their supply of contacts for a short time.

With or without eyeglasses, face coverings come with unsavory side effects. The same escaping air that fogs your lenses during cold weather is also responsible for causing or exacerbating dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye disease is uncomfortable, especially in this post-COVID-19 era when we’re spending more time in front of computer screens than ever before. The mask blowback, bright screens and the reduction in blinking that happens when we concentrate all contribute to the condition, which can make it difficult for someone to read and perform tasks comfortably. Symptoms of dry eye disease may include redness and itching, blurry vision, light sensitivity, excessive dryness or tearing, a sensation of grit or debris in the eye, and other uncomfortable sensations.

And now for the silver linings

LASIK is less about splurging than it is about investing in long-term freedom from glasses, contacts and the unending expense that comes with them. Laser vision correction surgery averages about $2,200 per eye but for many people, it eliminates dependence on contact lenses and prescription eyeglasses that could add up to tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime!

Most importantly, the emergence of a worldwide health crisis has been an awakening about the benefits of big-picture thinking. We’re more aware not only of protecting life but of nurturing a better quality of life to put us in good stead as this and future emerging public health crises play out. 

This, we believe, is what is driving the renewed interest in LASIK eye surgery. Better eyesight makes our lives richer and more fulfilling. With less reliance on assistive devices comes less vulnerability. 

Looking for permanent vision correction and freedom from glasses? Missouri Eye Institute can help you determine if you’re a candidate for a LASIK procedure. Start your journey with a thorough consultation to find out if you’re a candidate for permanent vision correction. Call (800) 383-3831 or vision


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