Laser Eye Surgery Costs

Written by Joy Watford

Medically reviewed by Dr. Matthew J. Miller, OD

20th October 2020

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The most popular laser eye treatment, LASIK surgery using bladeless technology, typically costs between £1,495 to £1,795 per eye.

Over 120,000 people receive laser eye surgery each year in the UK accounting for 75% of all surgical procedures carried out. 

You may well have seen laser eye surgery costs starting from just £1,190 in some clinics but over £6,000 in others so it’s natural to ask why does the cost of laser eye surgery vary so much? In short, the price you are quoted for laser eye surgery will largely be determined by the type of treatment and the clinic performing the surgery. 

laser eye surgery Treatment From To
LASEK £595* £1,795
LASIK £1,195 £2,700
LASEK (Bladeless) £1,495 £2,450
LASIK (Bladeless) £1,695 £3,250
ReLEx SMILE £2,495 £3,250

Prices per eye accurate as of November 2020.

In the price table above ‘Bladeless’ has been used to indicate the use of 3D scanning technology but this will often have a different name depending on the clinic and exact technology used (ie. iDesign for Optical Express, Intralase for Optimax, Wavefront for other clinics). Bladeless / Wavefront Surgery costs tend to be higher than standard surgery.

Lens Surgery TreatmentConsultationFromTo
Monofocal Lens SurgeryFree – £350£1,995£3,995
Multifocal Lens SurgeryFree – £350£3,195£4,500
Phakic IOLFree – £350£2,495£3,795
Cataract SurgeryFree – £295£2,495£4,300


How Much Do Laser Eye Surgery Prices Vary By Clinic?

The chart below illustrates the range of prices charged by popular UK clinics for different laser and lens surgery types (missing bars means the clinic does not offer that particular treatment type).  We’ve included lens surgery prices as they are sometime better options for those considering laser eye surgery. 

As you can see, laser eye surgery costs are cheaper at the nationwide clinics (Optical Express, Optegra and Optimax/Ultralase) than the ones based in the South East and London only (Centre for Sight, Focus and the London Vision Clinic).

It is also worth noting that whilst some of the national clinics offer fixed prices by treatment type, the other companies with fewer clinics often charge a higher price for higher prescriptions or more complicated cases. Where a range of prices is charged depending on the patient, we have displayed the lowest price. 

Laser Eye Surgery Treatment Types

The best laser eye treatment for you will depend on your eye condition and budget.

  • Wavefront
  • PRK
LASIK (Photorefractive Keratoctomy) 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. LASIK with Wavefront 3D imaging can provide the best results (see the Wavefront tab below). Who is it for? This procedure is suitable for people with common sight problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

LASEK (Laser-Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis) involves peeling back the epithelium (the thin layer of cells that cover the cornea) exposing Bowman's layer. This is then reshaped with a laser beam and the epithelium is replaced.

LASEK with Wavefront 3D imaging can provide the best results (see the Wavefront tab below).

Who is it for?

This procedure is suitable for people with common sight problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Wavefront is a type of technology utilised in LASIK and LASEK procedures. Special software creates a 3D 'map' of the patient’s eye so treatment can be customised to a patient’s particular eye shape and prescription.

This 3D imaging technology often has different names due to the variations on the machines & software used in different clinics (e.g. iDesign in Optical Express).

Who is it for?

This customised treatment is designed to be a superior alternative to standard LASIK and LASEK procedures. This is perfect for people who rely on perfect vision for their jobs and are happy and able to pay the extra (it is more expensive than standard LASIK and LASEK treatments).

SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) 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 incision in the cornea using a state of the art laser, and then using the laser to create a small disc of tissue within your cornea. The surgeon can then extract the disc via the incision in your cornea.

Who is it for?

It is generally used for correcting higher degrees of myopia with or without astigmatism. More people are suitable for LASEK and LASIK treatment because SMILE cannot treat hyperopia.

PRK (Photorefractive Keratoctomy) 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.

Who is it for?

This is less common these dats, 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. This is typically the cheapest laser eye surgery on offer. 

What Payments Are Due Before & After Surgery?

Consultation Fees

Before you agree to have any eye surgery you should have a consultation with any clinic you are considering using. The national clinics offer free consultations for all their treatments whilst those with only 1-3 clinics in total tend to charge for a consultation.

Any consultation fee charged, which can range from £25-£350 depending on the clinic and treatment, is taken off the final surgery price if you decide to use them.


When you have decided which clinic to use you will be required to pay a deposit to secure the surgery date. Clinics either price them as fixed fees (typically £250-£500 for the national ones) or a percentage of the treatment cost (typically 10%-20% of the total cost). 

Cooling Off Periods

There is no legal obligation for clinics to give you a cooling off period once you book in your surgery. However, the General Medical Council (GMC) do recommend clinics to give at least a week’s cooling off period in which they will refund 100% of all deposits if requested. This is why it is important that you check the terms and conditions of any clinic you are thinking of booking with to see their refund and cooling off policies.

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.

Post Surgery Costs

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. 

Post Surgery Guarantees

Many clinics offer guarantees that cover you should you need treatment up to 12 months after the surgery but many are more generous. For example, Optimax offer 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.

Is Finance Normally Offered?

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)Deposit10 Months24 Months
LASIK10% 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 SMILE10% or £500£188 (0% APR)£94 (9.9% APR)

What Influences the Price of Laser Eye Surgery?

There are a number of additional factors that may influence the price you pay for laser eye surgery, including:

  1. Technology: If a clinic can offer the best state-of-the-art technology you can expect to pay more for these treatments.
  2. Type Of Procedure: Non-standard procedures such is the minimally invasive bladeless ReLEx SMILE are more expensive than standard ones. 
  3. Prescription & Complexity: Some clinics charge higher prices when patients have higher prescriptions or more complex cases. For example, Focus charges between £4,800-£5,400 for both eyes for most of its LASIK patients but £6,000 for a specialist that is required due to patients having “high prescriptions, referred enhancements or previous surgery elsewhere, or other ocular considerations requiring specialist correction“.
  4. Location: Those clinics that just have clinics in the South East and/or London have higher prices than the national clinics.
  5. Company Size: Clinics with branches across the UK  benefit from economies of scale and can often charge lower prices. Clinic’s with just one or two experienced surgeons will tend to be more expensive.
  6. Patient Care: When a clinic has an optometrist or optician carry out the initial assessments, this can reduce the costs compared to the surgeon doing this themselves. However, this doesn’t allow you to meet the surgeon and build a relationship with them prior to your surgery, which may make you feel less comfortable with the procedure.
  7. Aftercare: All clinics we looked at included are able to cut their costs by charging patients separately for their aftercare (this is something you’ll need to look out for when calculating the costs involved as it won’t be included in their headline price). See the table below for some example aftercare policies.
laser eye surgery costs

Advice On Trying To Reduce The Cost

Given the cost of laser or lens replacement surgery is substantial, it is understandable people often look at ways to reduce the price if possible. We look at some of the ways this may be possible and if it’s advisable. 

If The Treatments Are The Same, Shall I Look For The Cheapest Price? 

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

Should I Wait For Discounts or Special Offers?

The advertising guidelines for refractive surgery by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (published in April 2017 and reviewed in May 2018) have stated that clinics should not be offering:

  1. Time-limited deals
  2. Financial inducements
  3. Package deals, such as ‘buy one get one free’ or reduced prices for previous patients’ friends and family.
Therefore, it is unlikely the prices you see published on a clinics website will be reduced – in our experience they creep up with inflation. 

Is Refractive Eye Surgery Covered By Insurance?

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:

  1. If the refractive error (prescription) was due to a surgical procedure or injury.
  2. Where the refractive error is very high.
  3. If a lens intolerance or allergies prevent you wearing contact lenses or glasses.

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.

Can I Save Money Going Abroad For Cheaper Laser Eye Surgery?

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.

Can I Get Laser Eye Surgery for Free on the NHS?

The NHS does not offer laser eye surgery 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. You can get more information on laser eye surgery covered in the NHS here

  • Prices published on UK laser eye surgery clinics in July 2020.
  • Small-Incision Lenticule Extraction (ReLEx SMILE). Medscape. (updated 27 June 2017)
  • LASIK – laser eye surgery. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (published 12 December 2015)

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