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How can the cost of laser eye surgery vary from £1,190 in some clinics for both eyes but be over £6,000 in others? We’ll compare the price of laser eye surgery between different UK clinics and treatment types so you can make a more informed decision.
Many patients find the wide range of advertised prices quite confusing and with good reason. If you’re looking into the possibility of undergoing laser eye surgery, chances are, the cost is one of your main concerns.
The main difference in prices is down to the treatment type and clinic / surgeon performing the surgery. In this guide we’ll try and help you cut through the jargon to clarify what most people pay and what you could expect to pay for refractive surgery that is right for you.
As a very quick guide to start, the most popular laser eye treatment, LASIK surgery using bladeless technology (or a variation of it) typically costs between £1,495 to £1,895 per eye at the national clinics.
Single site clinics in London only will charge between £2,100 to £2,400 for similar blade-free LASIK surgery and much more for higher prescriptions.
If you were happy to go with standard LASIK/LASEK treatments without the 3D Wavefront technology (which we wouldn’t recommend) you would be looking to pay around £1,200 per eye. What about the prices of £595 per eye? This is for PRK treatments that the majority of people will not be eligible for anyway due to their prescriptions (Optical Express now publish data to show only 23.4% of patients had prescriptions that would qualify for this cheaper PRK treatment).
We will try and give some clarity on the typical costs of laser eye surgery and the types of treatments available. If you are interested you can also quickly compare prices of laser eye surgery near you by entering your postcode in the short form on this page.
|Treatment Type (Prices Are Per Eye)||From||To|
The table below shows the price of variations of blade-free LASIK laser eye surgery across the various clinics in the UK. The procedures are not exactly the same as the treatment names indicate but they are all and as close as possible (e.g. all bladeless LASIK surgery) to make an indicative price comparison possible.
National Laser Eye Surgery Clinic Prices
|Company||Treatment Name||Consultation||Price Per Eye|
|Optical Express||LASIK with iDesign||Free||£1,495|
|Company||Treatment Name||Consultation||Price Per Eye|
|Focus||LASIK (blade-free)||Free||£2,400 – £2,800|
|London Vision Clinic||LASIK (blade-free)||Free||£2,600 – £3,250|
|Centre for Sight||IntraLASIK Supracor||£500 *||£2,675|
Please be aware that the cheapest laser eye surgery price in the table may be higher than some of the advertised rates you have seen elsewhere. This is because those promotional rates are typically only available to a minority of patients with low prescriptions. It is more realistic that you expect to pay prices similar within the range above rather than think you will get something closer to the ‘From £X’ prices often quoted online.
All clinics will offer some sort of financing for their refractive surgery treatments to make it more affordable. Many will offer 0% finance over 10-12 months and if you would like to pay off the balance over a longer period in order to reduce the monthly payments you should expect to pay a deposit upfront and be charged between 10%-12% APR.
Always check the total amount you are repaying if you are getting finance – the low monthly repayments are attractive but you can end up paying more than a third more than the amount owed due to the interest rate. Below are a sample of finance deals available for the different treatment types.
|Treatment Type (Prices Are Per Eye)||Deposit||10 Months||24 Months|
|LASIK||10% or £500||£70 (0% APR)||£23 (11.5% APR)|
|LASEK (Wavefront)||10% or £500||£153 (0% APR)||£50 (11.5% APR)|
|LASIK (Wavefront)||10% or £500||£153 (0% APR)||£33 (11.5% APR)|
|ReLex SMILE||10% or £500||£188 (0% APR)||£94 (9.9% APR)|
There are a number of additional factors that may influence the price you pay for laser eye surgery, including:
The first thing to understand is that there are different kinds of laser eye surgical procedures, depending on the problem that needs to be corrected and the patient’s prescription. Let’s take a quick look at the most popular procedures:
Type Of Procedure
What Is It?
Who Is It For?
|This is the oldest type of laser eye treatment and involves the removal of the epithelium in order to access the cornea. The cornea is reshaped with laser and the patient will then have to wear a protective lens during the recovery period.||This is rarely used these days, but is a good alternative to LASIK and LASEK for people with very thin corneas who would otherwise not be considered as candidates for laser eye treatment.|
Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis
|This is the most common type of laser treatment and is relatively painless. It involves creating a flap in the cornea, peeling it back to expose the stromal layer. The cornea is then reshaped with a laser beam and the flap is replaced afterwards.||This procedure is suitable for people with common sight problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.|
Laser-Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis
|In this procedure, the epithelium (the thin layer of cells that cover the cornea) is peeled back, exposing the Bowman’s layer. This is then reshaped with a laser beam and the epithelium is replaced.||This treatment is the most viable option for patients with thin corneas, and is a good alternative to LASIK surgery.|
|Wavefront is a type of technology utilised in LASIK and LASEK procedures. Special software creates a map of the patient’s eye to give an accurate picture of the aberrations to be corrected. The map is then loaded into the computer that controls the laser to let it reshape the cornea exactly to the patient’s specific requirements.||This customised treatment is designed to be an alternative to standard LASIK and LASEK procedures. This is perfect for people who rely on perfect vision for their jobs, such as airline pilots.|
Small Incision Lenticule Extraction
|This is a new, minimally-invasive laser eye treatment which offers a great alternative to LASEK and LASIK treatment. Rather than creating a flap in the cornea for the laser, this procedure involves making a small hole in the cornea using a state of the art laser that places a series of pulses in the centre of the cornea.||It is generally used for correcting higher degrees of myopia with or without astigmatism. More people are suitable for this treatment than for LASEK and LASIK treatment.|
If you’d like more information on laser eye surgery check out our comprehensive guide to laser eye surgery.
It’s tempting to opt for a clinic offering the cheapest prices for laser eye surgery but it is worth remembering that even if you are eligible for the cheapest treatment (many people will not qualify due to their prescription), it can cost you more in the long run physically and financially if it isn’t 100% effective.
Ensuring you’re being operated on by a fully-qualified surgeon in a renowned clinic is the safest way to make sure your surgery is high quality, safe and effective. If you really need to find cheap laser eye surgery, the best way is seeing if you can spread the cost out over several months or waiting until you have enough to spend at one of the more affordable national clinics
Unfortunately, hidden costs are something you’ll need to look out for as some clinics are not that forthcoming in what is and isn’t included in their fees (despite the regulations requiring they are). Below are some of the extras that may or may not be included for free so you need to check. For example, you may need to pay extra for your initial consultation (up to £175), enhanced treatments , prescription drugs and aftercare. The latter may only be provided for a certain amount of time, after which your follow-up appointments may come at a charge of around £50 to £150, depending on who you’re meeting.
That’s why it’s crucial you find out exactly what costs are included in your treatment, because if not, you could end up paying a lot more than you originally thought.
The initial consultation is often free for laser eye surgery although some clinics charge a small fee refundable after attending the consultation to discourage people from not turning up (i.e. Optimax charges a refundable deposit of £10 weekdays and £30 on weekends). Some London based clinics require a larger deposit that is only refundable if you are unsuitable for the surgery (i.e. Center for Sight charges £500 is deducted from the total cost of surgery if patient is found suitable for surgery).
Flat Fees Vs Variable Prices For Enhanced Treatments
Whilst the national clinics charge a fixed prices per treatment type in some smaller clinics offer more expensive specialist treatments for those with higher prescriptions.
For example, Focus clinics charges from £2,400 per eye for standard LASIK treatment but £3,000 per eye for those who have high prescriptions, referred enhancements, had previous surgery elsewhere or other ocular considerations requiring specialist correction.
The majority of clinics will include all aftercare received in the first 12 months after surgery into their fixed price. After one year, the costs will vary considerably between clinics and what you required.
For example, from one year onwards Optical Express charge £100 for appointments and £200 for appointments with an ophthalmic surgeon or ophthalmologist.
Other clinics offer guarantees that may cover you should you need treatment after 12 months. For example, Optimax give a lifetime guarantee provided that ‘you have not undergone another refractive procedure with another provider at any time since your last Optimax check-up and you can demonstrate that you have attended full eyesight examinations at two-yearly intervals.’
Focus currently offers a 10 year guarantee which offers a free repeat laser eye treatment to correct a return of myopia up to 10 years after the first LASIK, PRK or LASEK laser correction surgery. They say this effects less that 1 in 500 of their patients.
Optical Express used to offer a lifetime guarantee before they switched it to a 12 month guarantee although the date of this switch is disputed. They say this was switched in 2009 but there are reports of patients who say the lifetime guarantee persuaded them to have surgery in 2012 and 2013. This is just another example of why you should always read the small print and keep dated copies.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists give clear guidelines for the clinics requiring them to explain all charges clearly so patients understand what is included in quoted prices and what other charges might be payable, including possible charges for revision or routine follow-ups. If you feel this is not the case, you should remind them of their obligations or use another company.
As a general rule, private health insurance companies like Axa, Aviva, Vitality, Bupa, Cigna and Simply Health will not pay for laser eye surgery as it will regarded as elective surgery (i.e. not medically required). However, there are exceptions so it is worth checking with your provider.
Some examples of where the costs may be covered by insurance include:
If you are covered you may not get 100% of the fees paid for as there is likely to be an excess to pay and some policies will impose limits of the amount to pay out.
A quick Google search for laser eye abroad will bring up various clinics in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Polad, Hungary etc that often advertise cheap laser eye surgery prices than the UK Clinics. However, from a cost perspective you will need to add on the extras would you spend on flights, accommodation, insurance to make a more accurate comparison on price. Also, it is likely you’ll need to take more time off work. Any aftercare requiring a visit back to the overseas clinic should also be calculated as it may be necessary. In short, it may not be cheaper when all elements are added in.
In addition, it is more difficult to know the quality of the treatment and aftercare you will get. You need to do in depth research on the exact treatment you will get, the quality and qualifications of the surgeon who will be performing the surgery, the reputation of the clinic, the ability of the staff to speak English and the healthcare regulations of the country.
In the end, most people decide it is not worth the risk given the cost savings are often negligible or non existent.
Furthermore, with potential language barriers and less rigorous quality checks in place, this can make the surgery far riskier. And, once you return to the UK, getting the right aftercare can be problematic.
The NHS does offer free laser eye surgery but only for serious eye conditions that may lead to vision loss if they aren’t treated. It’s not available for conditions that will be successfully treated through the use of contact lenses or glasses, e.g. hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism.
Eye conditions that are covered by the NHS for laser eye surgery include diabetic retinopathy (when blood vessels in the retina are damaged), some types of wet macular degeneration, thickening of the lens capsule which arises after cataract surgery and some specific corneal diseases, e.g. corneal erosions.
Laser Eye Surgery Hub
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