LASEK Laser Eye Surgery
LASEK eye surgery uses laser technology to correct common refractive errors including short- and long-sightedness, for those who are not eligible for LASIK eye surgery.
The average cost of LASEK eye surgery is approximately £1,500 per eye, but prices can increase to over £2,000. Most clinics do provide finance options to help you to spread the cost of your surgery.
Although LASEK eye surgery is a very successful treatment for vision defects, it can take considerably longer to recover from than other types of laser correction surgery.
What is LASEK Eye Surgery?
LASEK eye surgery has been performed on millions of people worldwide. It is used to correct myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye.
In LASEK eye surgery, the very thin outermost layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is gently loosened and moved to one side by applying a dilute alcohol solution to the surface of the eye. This exposes the underlying corneal tissue (known as the stroma), which is reshaped using a cool beam of ultraviolet light from an excimer laser. Once the reshaping is complete, the epithelium is positioned back in place and a ‘bandage’ contact lens is placed over the eye to allow the epithelium to heal and reattach to the rest of the cornea.
Am I Eligible?
LASEK eye surgery can treat short- and long-sightedness as well as astigmatism, but like with any form of laser eye surgery there are some specific requirements that must be met before a patient can be deemed eligible for the procedure. These include:
- Age: no patient below the age of 18 will be considered for LASEK, and some clinics will even refuse to treat individuals younger than 21. This is because many teenagers and young adults are unlikely to have a stable prescription, making laser eye surgery ineffective.
- Prescription: a patient’s prescription must be stable for at least 12 months prior to the surgery. LASEK can treat those with a prescription of -3.00 up to +2.00.
- Thin corneas: those with very thin or steep corneas who are not eligible for other types of laser eye surgery such as LASIK, are better suited to LASEK.
- Contact sports: LASEK eye surgery is suitable for individuals who participate in sports or activities which put their eyes at risk of injury, such as rugby or boxing. This is because there is a reduced risk of serious complications arising from trauma to the eye after the LASEK procedure, compared to other types of laser eye surgery.
- Dry eyes: for people who suffer from dry eyes, LASEK eye surgery is beneficial since the procedure does not disturb the corneal nerves responsible for tear production.
- General Health: you will need to have a good general health, and have no diseases or infections of the eye. Pregnant or breastfeeding women will not be considered for treatment.
How Much is LASEK Surgery?
The average cost of LASEK eye surgery is approximately £1,500 per eye. The price of LASEK at different laser eye surgery clinics across the UK are listed below. It is important to bear in mind that these are only guide prices. Most clinics will only advertise ‘starting prices’ to their customers, which are often based on the lowest possible prescription the clinic will correct through surgery. This means that people with high prescriptions will in fact be quoted a higher price. Following a consultation, you will receive a personalized price package tailored to your individual needs. We recommend that you compare prices from several different clinics to find the best deal on LASEK eye surgery for you.
|Clinic||Starting Price (Per Eye)|
|Centre for Sight||£2300|
|London Vision Clinic||£2450|
|Moorfields Eye Hospital||£2000|
Financial Options for LASEK Surgery
LASEK eye surgery is not cheap, and some of the prices quoted above may even put you off having the procedure. Many clinics appreciate that laser eye surgery is a significant amount of money however, and so offer financial plans to their customers to help to make the procedure more affordable by spreading its cost over several months.
The financial plans offered by clinics often require you to pay an upfront deposit to book the day of your surgery. This can range from just £100 per eye to over £500 per eye. You will then be required to pay a fixed amount of money every month to the clinic. This can range from 10 months up to 72 months . It is important to remember that the longer the payback period, the more likely a clinic will charge interest on your repayments. This means you will pay back a larger sum of money on the cost of your surgery.
The table below provides you with some examples of the finance plans that some of the leading clinics in the UK offer for LASEK eye surgery. Before entering into a financial agreement, you should make sure that you have read the small print and fully understand the terms and conditions. To find out more about getting laser eye surgery on finance, visit our eye surgery pricing page.
|Centre for Sight||£460||
|London Vision Clinic||£500||
Suitable for Laser Eye Surgery? Click your age below to find out!
Is it Available on the NHS?
Laser eye surgery is deemed a cosmetic procedure by the NHS and it is therefore not offered as a treatment. There are exceptions to this rule however - patients who suffer from an eye condition which could leave them at risk of blindness if not treated using laser eye surgery can qualify for LASEK treatment on the NHS. You should consult with your healthcare professional to see if this applies to you. They will then refer you to your local NHS eye hospital for treatment.
The Benefits Of Lasek
Watch Valerie Saw, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, explain the benefits of Lasek:
"People usually choose to have surface treatment if they play contact sports like Martial Arts or Boxing or if there’s any risk that they could have a serious severe knock to the eye. The main reason for that is with LASIK the flap heals at the edges very well, nice and sealed, but in the middle of the flap there’s always a weak area. If you had a very, very strong knock or rub to the cornea it can dislodge a LASIK flap but it would have to be a really, really strong force.
I find in some patients, especially quite active young men choose the surface treatment or if they’re in the military the surface treatment. The long term outcomes for both in the hands of someone who is very experienced, a similar at one year and five years the outcomes are very similar."
Valerie Saw, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital
LASEK Surgery Procedure
LASEK eye surgery is a simple procedure that takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It is carried out on an outpatient basis, meaning that you will not be required to stay overnight and can return home shortly after the treatment is completed. Below is a step-by-step summary of the LASEK eye surgery procedure.
- You will be invited to a thorough consultation with your surgeon who will ask you questions about your lifestyle and eye history, and carry out a series of tests assess your eye health. LASEK surgery will typically only be carried out if LASIK surgery is unsuitable, so this meeting is of particular importance.
- If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, the cost will be confirmed and your surgeon will schedule the date of your surgery.
- If you use contact lenses, your surgeon will instruct you to stop wearing them before the treatment as they can change the shape of your cornea, making the surgery ineffective.
- Numbing anaesthetic eye drops will be applied directly to your eye, or to its surrounding tissue. You may also be given a mild sedative to help you relax during the surgery.
- Clips will be applied to the eyes to keep them open, while a small, thin ‘flap’ will be made onto the corneal epithelium using an instrument known as a trephin.
- A dilute alcohol solution is then applied to the eye for approximately 30 seconds to loosen the epithelium. The flap is then pushed to one side by the surgeon.
- An excimer laser is then positioned over the eye and is used to reshape the corneal tissue that sits below the epithelium.
- Once the reshaping is completed, the epithelial flap is repositioned on the eye.
- A special bandage contact lens is placed over the eye to allow the epithelium to heal. This will need to be worn for approximately 5 days following the surgery to prevent you from touching or rubbing your eye.
- You will not be able to drive immediately after LASEK surgery, so you must arrange to be collected by a friend or family member, or a taxi.
- You will need to take steroid eye drops for several weeks following the procedure. This will help your eye to heal and prevent an infection from developing.
LASEK Recovery Time
The recovery time for LASEK eye surgery can be significantly longer than that of other types of laser eye surgery as the healing process is much slower. With no complications, it can take up to 3 weeks for a patient to achieve fully restored eyesight following surgery. If complications do occur, the recovery time can be considerably longer. You will be required to attend at least one follow-up appointment with your surgeon after the procedure so that they can monitor your healing progress.
It is common to experience some minor side effects following surgery. These include:
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded immediately following surgery. This will subside within a few hours.
- Irritation in the eye, and feeling as if something is stuck in it. This can last for several days.
- Sensitivity to bright lights, which can be present for several weeks after surgery. Wearing sunglasses can help to alleviate any discomfort.
- Dryness in the eye, which can cause pain. This can be easily treated with lubricating eye drops which will need to be administered at least once a day.
- Blurred vision, which can last up to several weeks following surgery until your eyes have fully recovered from the surgery.
You will be able to return to work as soon as 3 days after your LASEK eye surgery, but you should wait at least 2 weeks before you start driving again. If you play contact sports, you should avoid participating for at least 1 month following surgery to lessen the risk of serious trauma to your eye. You should also avoid showering or washing your hair for a few days to stop any chemicals or water from getting into your eye, as this can disrupt the healing process.
Are There Any Complications?
Like with any surgical procedure, there is a chance that serious complications can arise. However, the risk of complications occurring following LASEK eye surgery is thankfully very low. Some complications to be aware of include:
- Ectasia: this occurs when the cornea of the eye is more flexible than usual. LASEK eye surgery can cause the flexible cornea to become unstable, making it bulge outwards over time. As a result, your vision becomes blurry due to the development of astigmatism. Those with ectasia following LASEK eye surgery will find that they have to start wearing glasses again to see clearly. Ectasia can be treated using similar techniques to those used to correct keratoconus.
- Tissue damage: in a small number of cases, the thin layer of epithelial tissue that was loosened and folded back during surgery can fail to reattach to the cornea following the procedure. In these circumstances, the epithelium will need to be completely removed and allowed to grow back naturally. While this isn’t a problem in itself, it can increase the risk of experiencing problems with vision for a prolonged period of time.
- Eye infection: whilst infections are extremely rare following LASEK eye surgery, they can be very painful and itchy. An eye infection is typically characterised by redness of the eye, light sensitivity and yellow discharge. The length of time that people suffer from an eye infection varies from person to person, although it tends to quickly subside following a course of antibiotics.
If you experience any side effects following LASEK eye surgery that don’t seem right, you should consult your surgeon immediately (or some other healthcare professional) for advice. However, LASEK eye surgery is a hugely popular treatment and has a high success rate, with approximately 80% of people achieving perfect vision following the procedure.