The Story of the LASIK Boom & Bust

From the Review of Optometry article "Refractive Surgery in Retrospect" "In the early days of laser vision correction, just after LASIK was approved, its popularity exploded—from about 100,000 procedures in 1996 to 1.4 million in 2000—a 14-fold increase in just five years.1 LASIK had quickly become the most common refractive procedure in the world. But then in early 2000s, the dot-com bubble popped, and the volume of procedures dipped for a few years. In 2004, the number of laser refractive surgeries nearly recovered to that high water mark of the year 2000, but never surpassed it. The numbers plateaued just beneath 1.4 million for the following three or four years. Then in 2007-2008, the housing bubble burst. The economy took a nosedive and laser refractive surgery—typically an elective procedure—followed the plunge. The numbers bottomed out in 2011-2012 at about 600,000 procedures a year, less than half than that of its high point. The number of procedures has edged up a little bit since, but it’s clear that laser refractive surgery never fully took over the eye care world, as many people back in the late 1990s had expected it would."


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