Considering laser eye surgery to improve your vision or so you can do away with glasses? We look at how much it will cost and how to get the best deals.
We all value our sight. Looking after our vision is one of the most important health concerns, and when our eyes let us down we will go to great lengths to regain the good vision we once had. Wearing spectacles is not only expensive over time but can also be a source of annoyance - you have to keep them clean, and you might worry about losing them. One possible solution is laser eye surgery, which can treat both short-sightedness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia). But is it worth having, and how much will it cost?
What Can It Treat?
Increasing in popularity in recent years, laser eye surgery is most commonly used to treat short-sightedness and long-sightedness, which many people develop - particularly in later life.
It can also be used to treat astigmatism, which is a common condition in which the cornea is not perfectly shaped, causing blurry vision as well as other conditions, including lens thickening following surgery on cataracts, damage to the retina through diabetes, wet macular degeneration and some corneal diseases.
The more serious of these conditions can be treated by surgery paid for by the NHS, but the NHS will not pay for eye surgery to correct focusing errors (in other words, short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism) because they can be treated without surgery.
What Does It Entail?
In the most common types of surgery, part of the cornea's surface is removed before being reshaped with a laser and then replaced. The procedure is most effective in treating short-sightedness.
How Much Will It Cost?
Over 1000 clinics around the UK offer laser treatments, and each one will have different prices, depending on their location and level of expertise.
Most clinics offer free or reasonably priced consultations and then charge somewhere between £1,000 and £1,500 per eye for basic surgery, although you will of course find special deals on offer because it is a competitive market.
It is worth noting that the worse your eyesight is, the more the surgery will cost. This is because your eyes will need more correction if your prescription is a high one. If your eyes are only slightly short- or long-sighted, the procedure should cost you less.
In addition, the more experienced the surgeon performing the operation is, the more you will pay for his or her expertise. So the better the clinic, the more expensive it will generally be, although ‘chains’ will probably offer a better deal.
How Do I Choose a Clinic?
Obviously, whether the clinic is near to your home will play a big part in whether you choose it, but it is important to do your research and discover which ones have the best rates of success and the highest levels of aftercare before making a decision.
The best way to choose any service is through recommendation. If someone you know has had eye surgery and it went well, ask them about it.
It is best not to just choose the cheapest simply because it will cost less - certainly not before doing your homework on which clinic is the best in your region.
Although how much you can afford will usually play a part in your decision-making, you need to make sure you are getting the best service for your money. After all, you can’t put a price on your eyesight.
If possible, get a few quotes from different clinics, so you can make an informed choice about which one will be best for you.
In terms of finding out which surgeons you can trust, you can check credentials via the Royal College of Ophthalmologists or the Dr Foster guide.
What About Going Abroad?
As with many surgical procedures, it is quite possible to get laser treatment performed in certain countries abroad, and it will probably be cheaper than at home - although, of course, you will have to factor in the cost of accommodation and travel.
If you are planning on going to a foreign country for eye surgery, you will need to do even more research than if you’re staying at home. And don’t forget that it will be more difficult to get aftercare and follow-up appointments if you are having to travel hundreds of miles.
Who Provides Aftercare?
However much your surgery costs, it should include ongoing aftercare, with routine follow-up appointments a couple of days after the procedure plus yearly check-ups to ensure everything is still fine. Some clinics will offer ‘lifetime guarantees’, which will provide you with valuable peace of mind about the surgery.
How To Find The Best Deals
Like most things, the best place to find the latest deals and special offers would be online. Use online comparison services to compare the costs of different treatments around the country. It is also worth looking at websites such as Groupon who regularly have special deals and offers.
It is also possible to haggle on the price offered - with some people having the initial quotes reduced by up to 1/3 by shopping around and negotiating the final price of the procedure. Finally, many clinics will offer customers an interest free 12-24 month payment plan which allows you to pay off the cost of surgery in instalments over time.