Laser eye surgery is a corrective procedure for the eye in order to improve sight quality. Many people complain of having short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hypermetropia) and astigmatism (blurred vision due to incorrect lens shape). There are other, less common eye disorders and diseases that can be treated through eye surgery, such as damage to blood vessels and thickening of lens capsule (often resulting after cataract surgery).
The surgery is not cheap, and will vary considerably depending on the sort of laser treatment required plus many other factors.
There are risks involved with most surgery procedures, and this is more highly prevalent in laser eye treatment. Figures from laser eye surgery clinics suggest that 5% of patients may report minor or major complications.
Factors to consider
Generally speaking the poorer your eyesight, the more expensive the treatment will be. However, firstly you must qualify to have laser eye surgery. The eye problem you have must be treatable (Non-treatable eyesight problems include age-related degeneration), and you must meet certain requirements before a surgeon will book you in for treatment. These include:
- Being over 21 years of age
- Being in good general health
- Vision should be stable for the past 2 years
- Have healthy eyes
There are several different methods of laser eye surgery each with their pros and cons, and each varying in cost. Deciding which is best and most affordable requires a budget, but also knowledge of what surgery may be best for your condition. This should always be discussed with your optician before deciding on treatment.
Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK)
The first method of laser eye surgery was developed in 1989 and is still used now. Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) involves scraping away the outermost layer of the cornea and reshaping the underlying stromal surface of the cornea. This method has been improved upon since its introduction, and is only used for low prescriptions (low degree’s of short-sightedness).
Drawbacks of PRK include a longer recovery time and discomfort during healing compared to other methods. The advantages, however, are that it carries less risk.
Epi-LASIK and LASEK
Epi-LASIK and LASEK are modernised version of PRK. They also remove the outer layer of the cornea, however each have differing methods from there on. These will cost more than the PRK, but have faster healing times with less discomfort.
LASIK is the most common procedure used in the UK. Standing for Laser In Situ Keratomileusis, it is widely regarded as being the most intrusive procedure, yet because of this, it achieves some of the best results for patients. Making a deep cut into the cornea, the LASIK treatment leads to excellent vision correction, which is often permanent. It also has the fastest recovery time of any of the procedures, as the surface epithelium of the cornea is left undamaged.
Similar to LASIK, Intra-LASIK also involves a flap being made in front of the cornea; however a laser is used to do this, instead of a razor blade. Some surgeons believe this gives greater accuracy.
When deciding on a treatment that gives best value for money, it may be recommended that you research the details of operations to discover which may be safer, more accurate and offer the best results.
Costs to consider
As with most private medical establishments, each will have a different cost to the other. This should be considered on a quote by quote basis. Institutions will be happy to have face to face discussions with you to talk about the best treatment option. From this you can decide which clinic offers the best value. It should also be noted that the more experienced or better the reputation the clinic and its surgeons are, the more expensive it is likely to be. Paying a higher price may be a worthy investment.
Many people travel abroad to have eye surgery done, as the costs are often considerably lower than the UK. This should be weighed up carefully with the risk of eyesight damage through incompetent or under qualified surgeons. Make sure full research is completed before committing to money saving eye surgery, as damage to eyes can rarely be completely repaired.
The NHS do not offer free laser eye treatment for the common eyesight problems such as refractive errors (which can be easily improved with the use of contact lenses or glasses). They will only consider those conditions, which if left untreated will lead to blindness, such as diabetic retinopathy. However some NHS trusts run laser eye surgery clinics, but they usually charge a fee.
|ReLEx SMILE||£2500 – £3500 per eye||2022|
|PRK||£1000 – £2000 per eye||2022|
|LASEK||£800 – £2000 per eye||2022|
|LASIK||£1400 – £3000 per eye||2022|
|Intra-LASIK||£1500 – £2500 per eye||2022|
|Epi-LASIK||£1300 – £2500 per eye||2022|
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