Can You Get Laser Eye Surgery On The NHS?

Can You Get Laser Eye Surgery On The NHS?

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Considering laser eye surgery can be a daunting prospect.

You’ll have to consider whether it is right for your condition, and the recovery period post-surgery.

However, one of the major concerns is always the overall cost of the procedure, which leads to many people wondering: can you get laser eye surgery on the NHS?

Is Laser Eye Surgery Available On The NHS?

The NHS does offer laser eye surgery, however, it is only available for certain eye conditions.

If you have an eye condition that can lead to vision loss, then you may be able to get access to NHS-funded surgery.

In these cases, going private may still be the better option due to the waiting times in the NHS, however, you’ll have to be prepared to spend some of your hard-earned savings to get the results you want.

If your eye condition is not deemed to be a threat to your vision in the long term then you’ll have to think about other options.

Want To Find Out If You’re Suitable?

If you’re wondering whether laser eye treatment is the right choice for you, there are some key things to consider…

Which Treatments Are Available On The NHS?

The NHS offers laser treatment for a number of conditions that put a patient’s vision at risk.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition caused by high blood sugar levels in someone who has diabetes.

The high blood sugar levels cause damage to the retina and blood vessels causing blurred vision and reduced blood flow to the eyes and if left untreated can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Although there is no known cure for Diabetic Retinopathy, laser eye surgery can help to delay the damage to the blood vessels or reduce the effects of vision loss.

Posterior Capsule Opacification (PCO)

Cataract surgery is normally successful and can help reduce cloudy vision by replacing the cloudy lens with a new, artificial lens.

However, one of the complications is Posterior Capsule Opacification – whereby people report a new cloudy or blurred spot after surgery.

Treatment for this can be done by the NHS and involves a quick and painless treatment known as Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG) which clears the cloudy vision once again and restores normal vision.

Aged Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a common condition that normally affects those later in life.

Although there is no known cause for why AMD happens, studies show that a family history of AMD or a history of smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure can all lead to AMD.

AMD can make normal daily activities difficult and although it doesn’t cause total vision loss, it can be difficult to read or make out faces.

AMD is likely to get worse over a period of several years, so getting treatment at the first sign of AMD is highly recommended.

Treatment can be done on the NHS and can involve injections or light therapy, or a combination of the two.

Corneal Degeneration

The Cornea is essential for you to be able to focus on objects and people.

During Corneal Degeneration you’ll find it harder to focus on things, making day-to-day activities difficult and frustrating.

Corneal Degeneration is more common in those over 50, and can gradually get worse, making your eyesight deteriorate over a number of years.

Laser eye surgery can help treat the symptoms of Corneal Erosion by reshaping the cornea and removing any scar tissue, making it easier to see and allowing the cornea to do its job.

Which Conditions Aren’t Available For Treatment On The NHS?

Short-sightedness (Myopia)

Myopia, more commonly known as short-sightedness, is a condition where items close up are clear but items further away are blurred and difficult to see.

Although short-sightedness can be irritating and frustrating, it does not have long-term effects and does not cause vision loss. Typically short-sightedness is corrected using glasses or contact lenses.

Laser eye surgery is an option, however, it would not be covered by the NHS and instead, you would have to pay for the surgery yourself.

Long-sightedness (Hyperopia)

Hyperopia is another common condition where people can see things further away in detail however things up close can appear blurry.

Hyperopia does not lead to vision loss and does not require laser eye surgery to be corrected. Vision correction is normally done by wearing glasses or contact lenses.

There is the option to have laser eye surgery, but this would have to be fully funded by you.


Astigmatism is another common eye condition that causes blurred vision and headaches.

This is due to the shape of the eye whereby light enters the eye in several places.

Despite common misconceptions, astigmatism can be treated with laser eye surgery, however, it is not required and instead, options such as wearing glasses or contact lenses can be a more cost-effective option.

I’m Not Eligible – What Are My Options?

If you suffer from one of the eye conditions that is not covered by the NHS, then you’ll have to consider private laser eye surgery clinics to permanently correct your vision.

At Focus, we pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality care. For that reason, we have strict criteria for our patients to ensure they’re suitable for laser treatment:

  • You must be over 18. This is because your body and your vision are still changing, however, after the age of 18 things start to balance out and become more stable.
  • You must have a stable prescription over the past 12 months. We want to make sure that laser eye surgery is the right thing for you, and therefore if you’re having frequent eye checkups and having your prescription changed, laser eye surgery might not be the most suitable option at this time.

Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to carry out any treatment if you fall under the following categories.

  • If you are Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or you are trying to conceive.
  • If you have Keratoconus there is a risk that laser eye surgery may further damage the already thin Cornea, leading to further vision problems.
  • If you have Glaucoma.

Is Laser Eye Surgery Worth It?

For those with severe vision impairments, laser eye surgery can provide permanent results and therefore laser eye surgery not only seems worth it but also becomes a necessity.

However, even those with more common conditions such as myopia and hyperopia may be tired of traditional methods of vision correction such as glasses or contact lenses and many may now consider laser eye surgery treatment.

Traditionally, laser eye surgery has been seen as an expensive way to correct your vision. However, private laser eye surgery is now more affordable than ever before, and laser eye surgery can prove to be more cost-effective than replacing glasses and contact lenses on a regular basis.

There are of course risks and complications involved with having laser eye surgery, but studies show that the benefits outweigh the negatives, with a better quality of life, no longer dependent on glasses or contact lenses, and cost-effective in the long term.

We’re Here To Help

Here at Focus, we put you in the driving seat, giving you the options and treatment solutions that work for you.

So whether you no longer want to wear glasses, you want to remove contact lenses for good or you’re simply looking for a long-term solution then we’re here to help.

If you’re considering laser eye surgery, book your free telephone consultation with a member of our team and they’ll discuss the best treatment options for your prescription and circumstances.

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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