Regarding this lens... I still have not noticed any ill effects to my images... BUT I CAN FEEL the abrasions on the glass!
This lens is about $1250 new... I finally got someone at Nikon to tell me a worst case scenario to fix this lens.
They said if it indeed not dropped crushed or damaged beyond what I described to them on the phone today... $375 to fix.
I called NPS a month ago and they wouldn't tell me a price. Sounds fair... will send it in sometime I guess, and I still have my 18-35 as a backup.