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Surgeon David Allamby FRCS(Ed), FRCOphth
 David Allamby

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The Misleading Prices of Laser Eye Surgery

Learn more about vision correction

21
Jun
2016

Adverts can be confusing, especially when it comes to pricing, so when we hear of low price laser eye surgery, is it really what it seems or are they misleading low prices?

First of all, it’s worth explaining that there are many contributing factors to laser eye surgery pricing, with prescription strength and type of surgery having the most impact on what you could pay. Also, choosing an experienced surgeon with a strong reputation will cost more than another doctor allocated to you on your surgery day. Who performs your procedure will have the biggest impact on how good your vision is afterwards, as well as the risk of complications. Always choose your surgeon carefully.

laser-eye-surgery

The main factors in laser eye surgery prices

1. Type of surgery

The most common and popular type of laser eye surgery is called LASIK, which is the procedure of choice for more than 90% of laser vision treatments.

There are two main ways of performing LASIK surgery and this relates to how the initial corneal flap is made — either using a laser (the choice of all leading surgeons) or using a blade (still offered by some clinics).

With the laser approach, the surgeon uses the femtosecond technology to create a very thin corneal flap. After the flap is folded gently to the side, a second (excimer) laser uses a cool beam to reshape the corneal curvature and correct vision, usually in no more than 5-10 seconds.

The flap is then placed back into position and the surface skin cells heal over the next 4-6 hours. Thin laser flaps do heal down well and after some months cannot be lifted again, restoring strength to the cornea. (Blade-cut flaps can often still be lifted years later and in rare circumstances can be moved by trauma).

Dual laser thin-flap LASIK carries minimal risk when carried out by an experienced surgeon. It also has the fastest healing time with patients able to see much clearer, often 20/20 or better, within minutes of the surgery. For some patients it can take up to 24 hours to achieve optimal results.

The second type of surgery is where a doctor creates the corneal flap using a motor-driven blade. This procedure is cheaper, however it also carries more risk of complications—the blade cut is not able to rival the precision of a laser. At Focus Clinic we do not offer this form of surgery.

To see more about the types of laser eye procedures, please click here.

2. Prescription Strength

The severity of your prescription will have a bearing on the price you pay for laser eye surgery; low and medium prescriptions are usually cheaper.

Prescriptions ranging from -0.25 to -7.75 for short sight, +0.25 to +2.75 for long sight or less than 3 dioptres of astigmatism are normally classed as low to medium prescriptions.

Prescriptions that are -8.00 dioptres or higher for short-sight, +4.00 dioptres or higher for long-sight or more than 3.00 dioptres of astigmatism are classed as high prescriptions and usually cost more to treat due to the additional specialist expertise and treatment time involved.

misleading low cost

Low advertised prices for laser eye surgery

You may see advertising claims for laser eye surgery for as little as £395 per eye. This can be a misleading low price, as very few people are able to receive surgery for this cost, you would need to have an extremely low prescription. You would also undergo the inferior type of surgery where the corneal flap is cut using a blade instead of a laser, meaning a higher chance of complications afterwards. LASIK surgery is not available for such low prices at any reputable clinic.

The seriousness of laser vision treatment is often overlooked, with a lot of people viewing it as a simple procedure, such as Botox and fillers. It is important to remember that laser eye surgery is still surgery and, therefore, should be treated with the exact same care and consideration that you would any other surgical procedure, whether it be an operation in general hospitals or cosmetic surgeries in private hospitals.

The saying ‘You get what you pay for’ certainly can ring true for private procedures such as laser eye surgery. You pay for the consultant’s expertise and time, the level of care provided before, during and after surgery, as well as the safety from strict compliance with health and safety regulations and procedures.

Above all else, if you’re looking to get laser eye surgery we definitely recommend you do some research, not only on the clinic you are thinking of receiving treatment at but also the surgeon that will be performing your procedure.

Always check the reviews. Are there any common gripes or complaints, or are testimonials consistently positive? Use an independent review site such as Trustpilot to see real patient feedback from laser eye clinics across the UK. Our reviews can be found here.

Even if there are as few as 1 in 100 people with a bad outcome, you could end up being that one person. How many patients are typically treated in a day? Is there enough time to dedicate to each patient or are there a lot of people to get through, which could result in rushing and increased chance of errors?

By: David
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