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Leasing Arrangements
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2011
Leasing Arrangements [Abstract]  
Leasing Arrangements

8. Leasing Arrangements

We lease office space for our vision centers under lease arrangements that qualify as operating leases. For leases that contain pre-determined fixed escalations of the minimum rentals and/or rent abatements subsequent to taking possession of the leased property, we recognize the related rent expense on a straight–line basis and record the difference between the recognized rental expense and amounts payable under the leases as deferred lease credits. We used capitalized leases to finance certain excimer lasers used in the laser vision correction procedures. We included capital lease assets in property and equipment.

The following table displays our aggregate minimal rental commitments, net of guaranteed sub-lease income under noncancellable leases for the periods shown (dollars in thousands):

 

Year

   Operating
Lease
Obligations
 

2012

   $ 9,391   

2013

     7,357   

2014

     3,924   

2015

     2,598   

2016

     2,208   

Beyond 2016

     2,714   
  

 

 

 

Total minimum rental commitment

   $ 28,192   
  

 

 

 

 

Total rent expense under operating leases amounted to $6.7 million in 2011, $8.1 million in 2010 and $11.5 million in 2009.

In 2009, we entered into five-year lease agreements with Alcon and AMO, respectively, for new excimer lasers which allowed us to standardize our excimer treatment platforms and reduce the number of platforms at each of our vision centers from three to two. The standardization of our excimer laser platforms reduced equipment and maintenance costs, while allowing us to offer a broad spectrum of treatment options that include a standard treatment, a custom wavefront treatment, an optimized treatment and femtosecond technology. As part of the transactions, we disposed of our Bausch & Lomb lasers and related capital lease obligations. We received cash payments from the lessors that may be partially refundable if we do not perform a minimum number of procedures over the term of the agreements. We have deferred these amounts and are recognizing them ratably over the lease term. We included the unrecognized portion in "Deferred license fee" in our Consolidated Balance Sheets at December 31, 2011 and 2010.

The AMO laser lease qualified as a capital lease, and the Alcon laser lease qualified as an operating lease. However, at December 31, 2011, we did not hold any lasers under the capital lease arrangement with AMO.