Cost Of Laser Eye Surgery
The cost of laser eye surgery can range from approximately £600 per eye to over £2,000 per eye, depending on the type of treatment you have.
Many clinics offer finance options to help you to spread the cost of your laser eye surgery over a lengthy period of time, often from just 10 months all the way up to 72 months.
You might incur additional costs for your laser eye surgery including consultation fees and follow-up appointments. These should be factored into your budget when you have the treatment.
How Much Is Laser Eye Surgery?
The cost of laser eye surgery in the UK can start anywhere from as little as £595 up to £2,175. The table below outlines the different types of laser eye surgery available, and the typical starting price of each one:
|A hand-held microscopic blade known as a microkeratome is used to create a tiny flap on your cornea to provide access to the corneal tissue below. This flap is then peeled back and a laser is used to reshape your cornea. The flap is then closed and because it is so small, no stitches are required.|
|Unlike LASIK, a flap is not cut into your cornea. Instead, the very outer layer of your cornea (the epithelium) is loosened using a 20% alcohol solution, which enables the surgeon to temporarily move it to one side. The corneal tissue below is then reshaped using a laser, before the epithelium is positioned back in place. A ‘bandage’ contact lens is applied over the eye to allow the epithelium to reattach to the surface of the eye.|
|This is a state-of-the-art variant of the basic LASIK/LASEK procedure. Using a machine known as an aberrometer, precise measurements of your entire eye are taken to create a 3D computer image of your cornea. This is then used to guide the laser which reshapes your cornea during LASIK/LASEK surgery.|
|A laser is used to create a flap in the cornea to reveal your underlying corneal tissue, rather than a handheld blade as in the traditional LASIK procedure. A different laser is then used to reshape the cornea. A laser-created flap makes the incision more accurate and reduces the risk of serious complications arising.|
|This a variant of the traditional LASEK procedure. The very outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is temporarily moved out of the way using an instrument known as an epi-keratome, rather than with an alcohol solution as in the traditional LASEK treatment. The corneal tissue below is then reshaped with a laser and a ‘bandage’ contact lens is placed over the eye to allow the epithelium to heal.|
|The very outer layer of your cornea (the epithelium) is completely removed. A laser is then used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. Following surgery the epithelium will take several days to grow back naturally.|
Why Do Laser Eye Surgery Prices Vary?
The cost of laser eye surgery can be affected by a number of different factors, and it is important to be aware of them when comparing prices from different clinics.
Newer, more sophisticated types of laser eye surgery such as bladeless IntraLase LASIK and ones that apply wavefront technology will be more expensive than older, more basic versions.
Some clinics will quote low prices for mild prescriptions, and much higher prices for moderate to severe prescriptions. Simply put, the poorer your eyesight is the more you will have to pay for laser eye surgery. This is because the procedure needed to correct your eyesight will be more complex.
Keeping up to date with the latest advances in ophthalmic equipment and instruments from the industry’s leading manufacturers is an expensive investment. Because of this, a clinic equipped with the latest laser technology will generally charge more, especially as the treatment is likely to be quicker, more comfortable and more accurate than a surgery with older systems.
If there are a lot of clinics offering the same surgery within a small radius, prices tend to be lower as they compete for customers through cut-price surgery and special offers. If possible, it is therefore worth considering choosing a clinic located in a large town or city where there will be at least two or three eyecare specialists.
Size of Clinic
A larger, more established clinic is likely to offer lower prices as they benefit from higher demand, and so are able to squeeze their profit margins.
If a clinic or surgeon has an exceptional reputation, they will be able to charge a higher price for laser eye surgery as more people will want to be treated by them. The most experienced and well-known surgeons will be Fellows of the Royal College of Ophthalmology (RCO). Reading patient reviews online and researching if a clinic or surgeon has received any awards is a good way to gauge their reputation.
Clinics that provide a higher standard of customer care often charge more for laser eye surgery. This includes services such as surgeon-led consultations, personalized treatment plans, and comprehensive aftercare.
Here, Mr Romesh Angunawela, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, discusses the factors which can affect the price of your laser eye surgery:
"The cost really can vary depending on the clinic and the type of surgeon you’re seeing. A lot of clinics employ optometrists to see patients, you may not actually see your surgeon until the day of your surgery. Somewhere like Moorfields you’re going to see your surgeon at every point, your surgeon is responsible for your care from the moment you come to the clinic. Also Moorfields tends to be a flagship center for laser manufacturers so we tend to renew our lasers every year or two which means that you’re going to have access to the most advanced technology. That is likely to mean that the cost of your surgery is going to be greater than a high street clinic.
We also don’t really offer a whole different choice of surgery, we only do wavefront guided, IntraLase Lasik and wavefront guided Lasik, so there’s only one price point really. We don’t think it’s really worth doing any of the other types of surgeries that may cost less, because we’re just offering the best possible laser treatment and why compromise. So that’s really what determines price as far as I can see."
Mr Romesh Angunawela, Consultant Eye Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital
Are There Any Hidden Costs?
Aftercare, medication and even the initial consultation might not be included in the price you are quoted for laser eye surgery. Clinics that offer low cost prices for surgery are often guilty of not including these services in their advertised prices. Below are some examples of services that might be charged at an extra cost:
- Consultation: some clinics charge up to £175 for a consultation, in which an eye examination and lifestyle interview is conducted. When consultations are not included in the overall price of your treatment, it is often because they are carried out with the ophthalmic surgeon who will be performing your surgery. If your consultation is included in the price, it could be that it is conducted by an optometrist instead, meaning you won’t meet the surgeon until the day of your surgery.
- Enhanced treatments: there are two main additions to the basic laser treatment which improve results and reduce the risk of complications - Wavefront and IntraLase. Whilst some clinics include these in their prices, others charge patients extra for these which can add up to £500 onto the cost of each eye.
- Aftercare: some clinics do not factor aftercare services into the price of surgery, and if they do, aftercare may only be provided free of charge for a limited period of time. Follow-up appointments can cost approximately £50 to £150 depending on whether you meet with an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Necessary post-operative medication such as anti-inflammatory eye drops may also come at an extra cost.
This shows that it is essential that you find out exactly what is included in the advertised price as hidden costs can quickly drive up the overall price of your surgery, meaning that you could end up paying a lot more than you had originally anticipated.
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Finance Options For Laser Eye Surgery
Purchasing laser eye surgery can be costly, but there are now payment plans available at the majority of clinics in the UK to help make this life-changing procedure achievable no matter your budget.
If you decide to get laser eye surgery by funding it through finance, then it is important to fully understand how the process works. You will need to pay an upfront deposit, followed by a fixed payment over an agreed amount of months.
The table below shows you an example of the finance options available for the different types of laser eye surgery over 12 and 24 months. Finance packages are also available over 10, 36, 48 and 72 months.
Before you decide to pay for your laser eye surgery through finance, it is important to consider the following things carefully:
- In order to enter into a financial agreement, you must be aged 18 years and over and need to provide a bank statement, utility bill and form of identification at least 1 week before your surgery. You must also have a bank account from which you can set up a direct debit.
- The upfront deposit is often 10% of the overall cost of your surgery, so can amount to a large sum of money. This needs to be paid in full in order to secure the date of your surgery.
- Most clinics offer 0% APR on their financial arrangements ensuring that you only pay back the cost of the surgery, rather than incurring and paying any interest. However, the APR can increase the longer the payback period, which means you end up paying more overall.
- Late or missed repayments can have an impact on your credit score, which can affect your ability to enter into financial agreements in the future.
Make sure you shop around to find the finance deal best suited to you and ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions.
Should I Get Cheap Laser Eye Surgery?
Some clinics offer patients cheap laser eye surgery, but this can often be indicative of poor patient care, a less experienced surgical team and outdated laser technology.
Whilst the price tag can be tempting, is it really worth the risk? After all, your sight is not something you can afford to gamble with.
If you are on a budget, it is worth noting that prices tend to be cheapest at nationwide clinics who have branches in large towns and cities, so it is worth starting your searches there when choosing a laser eye surgery clinic.
It is important to remember however, that if you have a particularly high prescription or complex eye condition, being quoted low cost prices for laser eye surgery is simply not an option due to the type of surgery you will need.
Is The Cost Of Laser Eye Surgery Covered By Insurance?
Another way to fund your laser eye surgery is through medical insurance. Not all private insurance covers the cost of laser eye surgery however, because it is considered to be a non-essential elective procedure. However, it is worth checking with your insurance provider as every policy is different.
There are exceptions to this rule however, where your medical insurer will cover part or all of the cost of your laser eye surgery. Circumstances include:
- If your poor eyesight is due to an injury or a previous surgical procedure
- If you are unable to wear glasses or contact lenses due to lens intolerance or allergies
Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery On The NHS?
You can get laser eye surgery on the NHS, but only for serious conditions that could lead to a complete loss of vision if left untreated. It is not available for conditions that can be treated successfully with glasses or contact lenses, such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism. Exceptional eye conditions which can be treated with laser eye surgery free of charge on the NHS include diabetic retinopathy, some types of wet macular degeneration and some diseases of the cornea, such as recurrent corneal erosions.
Is It Worth The Cost?
The success rates for laser eye surgery show that it is well worth the cost, with claims of up to 99% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or better after surgery. Some other benefits of laser eye surgery include:
- A quick, painless procedure to correct problems with vision
- Little risk of serious complications from surgery
- Freedom from wearing glasses and contact lenses
- The ability to take part in activities with much greater ease, such as driving, swimming and cycling
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
Laser Eye Surgery Savings Calculator: How Much Could You Save?
Are you thinking of having laser eye surgery but are unsure about whether you could afford it? Click on our laser eye surgery savings calculator below and find out how affordable treatment can be across any length of time.