Economic stimulus for Lasik eye surgery?

If you, like me, haven't received your economic stimulus check yet, then you might have spent part of the past few weeks contemplating all the possible ways you could spend your little gift from Dubya.

After all, when the President puts a couple of bucks in your pocket, pats you on the fanny, and tells you to buy yourself somethin' purty, you don't want to just rush into a stupid purchase. Maybe you don't want to buy a TV or a stereo that was produced in a Communist government by people who make two bucks a day. Heck, maybe you don't even want to save that dough as a hedge against the inevitable day when gas will go to $8 per gallon and there will be shooting in the streets.

Perhaps you want to spend your money locally. Maybe you even want to use it to see clearer, further, and better.

When I was 10 years old, my parents caught me bringing a pair of opera glasses to school. When they asked me why, I told them that my classroom was really big and I needed some help seeing the board. As I looked from my father's nearsighted eyes to my mother's nearsighted eyes, I realized that the the writing was on the wall: I was going to have to get glasses. Ever since that dark day, I've been wearing corrective lenses of one sort or another.

I recently read an interesting article about the relative safety of vision correction. In 2006, WebMD reported that Lasik, the dominant form of corrective eye surgery, currently poses a 1-in-10,000 risk of serious vision loss. Contact lens usage, on the other hand, has a 1-in-100 chance of infection over the course of 30 years, and a 1-in-2000 chance of serious vision loss.

Personally, I've worn contact lenses for about 20 years now, often under circumstances that make a baboon's ass look hygienic. While I still haven't lost my vision, I have to acknowledge that, to paraphrase Top Gun, I've been writing checks that my eyes can't cash.

When Lasik first came out, it was really expensive and a little too new for me (personally, I don't like to buy into a technology until it's in the third or fourth generation. This goes double with my eyesight). Recently, however, I discovered that there have been a lot of advances in Lasik surgery, both in terms of safety and effectiveness. Furthermore, according to some of the pop-up ads I saw on Google, Lasik procedures are currently starting at around $199 per eye.

$400 for Lasik surgery? Well, I'm not all that interested in going to Dr. Frankenstein's back-alley eye emporium! As my editor Zac pointed out, the average cost of a Lasik procedure is actually somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500 per eye. Still, that seems like a pretty good deal for a life in which I'd never have to buy contact lens solution again, would have a greatly reduced chance of eye infection, and could wake every morning to clear vision. Besides, with Dubya's help, I'm halfway there!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He's starting to think that maybe Bush's Economic Stimulus Plan wasn't shortsighted after all!
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