A vision-improving laser surgery called "lasik" is fast becoming the next big trend in medicine. In fact, judging by its local growth, the $2,250-per-eye procedure is already a big hit around Tampa Bay.
Like various plastic surgeries before it, lasik is poised to become a billion-dollar-per-year industry in the United States. It might pass that mark soon - some analysts predict 500,000 or more lasik surgeries in 1999.
Perhaps 40 Bay area physicians now do lasik, but only a handful of doctors own their own excimer lasers. It costs about $600,000-$800,000 to buy, install, house and maintain an excimer laser.
Dozens of other Bay area doctors do the procedures by using other doctors' gear, paying a typical fee of $800-$1,200.
Ophthalmologic surgeons also work at two laser facilities in Tampa and Clearwater, at laser units owned by publicly traded companies. The University of South Florida has its own excimer, too.
Also, a few Bay area doctors do lasik …