How much does laser eye surgery cost?
Laser eye surgery has become a very popular solution for people affected by vision issues as the cost of treatment is significantly less than what a patient will need to spend on glasses and contact lenses over the long-term.
While laser eye surgery prices can seem high, it is useful to know what you are paying for when you buy specialist surgery, and why heavily discounted fees can ultimately be a very expensive choice for you and your eyes.
The cost of laser eye technology
In the early 1990s, laser eye surgery could only fix standard short sighted prescriptions. As the technology developed, treatment also became available for both long sight as well as astigmatism.
Today’s LASIK surgery now uses two lasers to achieve the extremely high level of precision found in modern vision correction surgery. With each laser costing between a quarter and a third of a million pounds, and both of which may need updating as newer technology comes along, the price of specialist laser eye treatment will always be substantial.
So, how much does laser eye surgery cost me?
You should expect to pay in the order of £4,500-£5,000 or even upwards for a specialist surgeon in an expert independent clinical setting.
Paying less than this can involve corners being cut, such as packing a lot of patients into one day’s list (increasing the risk of human error and incomplete preoperative checks) or using older technology (increasing complications and reduced vision success rates).
You generally always get what you pay for, so do ensure you pay appropriately to get the best that is available from today’s laser eye surgery.
Newer types of surgeries are now available beyond the standard short and long sighted or astigmatism prescriptions; to help age-related presbyopia (the need for reading glasses from the age of 45 upwards) such as LASIK Blended Vision and now a revolutionary lens replacement surgery (refractive lens exchange, RLE) using multifocal implants to restore far, intermediate and near vision.
These presbyopia treatments to help reading vision are typically more expensive than standard laser eye surgery e.g for short sight and astigmatism. At Focus Clinic, LASIK Blended Vision costs £5,400 for both eyes.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) costs between £6,500 and £7,500 (both eyes) depending on the choice of lens implant, either standard or premium multifocal.
With the latest technological advances and the highest level of surgeon’s skills and training, the risks of something going wrong with laser eye surgery are at their lowest, which is helping make the treatment a very popular choice for people who require vision correction.
What about low price laser eye surgery?
The cost of laser eye surgery can often be confusing and misleading as it’s common for some high street chains to push advertising stating that you can get laser eye surgery from just £395 per eye (£790 total).
However, the chances of anyone actually receiving treatment for this price is very slim. These low prices are for much older technology, now made obsolete by modern advances in safety and results, and such procedures should be avoided. The lowest prices are also for the very lowest prescriptions, with more typical prescriptions being significantly more expensive.
Once you have attended a centre offering very low prices, you will find the true cost to be much higher. The ‘options’ to get safer, up-to-date surgery using wavefront technology and blade-free femtosecond laser LASIK flap creation for your prescription will take the price to £3,000 and higher (see below).
A realistic price guide for specialist laser eye surgery is between £4,500 and £5,000 for both eyes. Complex prescriptions or cases with previous surgery could be higher.
Interest-free finance and interest-bearing payment plans are available in most clinics to spread the cost; Focus Clinic offer interest-free credit over 12 or 24 months.
What are the main factors in the price of my laser eye surgery?
There are numerous factors that contribute to the quality of surgery offered by an individual clinic, and the price you would pay is linked to that level of quality; you would expect to pay more for a Mercedes than a Ford. However, four common factors that contribute to laser eye surgery pricing are:
- the expertise of your surgeon
- your prescription strength
- your prescription type
- the type of surgery you select
The expertise of your surgeon
You should always look for the best surgeon you can, and pay what it takes for the highest level of skill. Investigate the laser eye surgery results achieved by that surgeon for your prescription, and meet your doctor prior to the procedure day. As in any profession, the best in their field command higher fees; you want your eyes in the most capable hands.
Price and prescription strength
Many clinics fees for surgery vary according the the severity of the prescription. For example, a person who suffers from mild myopia (short sight / nearsight) with a prescription strength of -1.50 will pay less than someone who suffers from a much more severe degree of myopia with a prescription strength of -8.00.
There are four main reasons to wear glasses:
- presbyopia (reading glasses)
The price of you laser eye correction will often vary according to the type of glasses needed. Treatment for standard levels of short sight and astigmatism are usually the most affordable, with long sight often being slightly higher priced.
Correcting the need for reading glasses will often be more expensive as it requires a more experienced and knowledgeable surgeon with specialist expertise in the area of presbyopia. Treatment options included LASIK Blended Vision and refractive lens exchange, often abbreviated to RLE.
The type of surgery you select
Some clinics advertise a low headline price for older technology procedures, and ask patients to pay to upgrade to modern surgery. Focus Clinic only offer the most advanced laser eye treatment for all patients. We feel it is not appropriate or perhaps even ethical to offer older technology surgery when something better is available.
There are two main types of laser eye surgery technology that you must have as part of your correction. If these are paid-for options at your clinic, you should pay for them as the result you will obtain will be better.
The first is a totally blade-free procedure – femtosecond LASIK (the only laser surgery we at Focus Clinic offer) – where a laser is used to create the corneal flap, which then allows a second laser to correct the vision. The older (and cheaper) obsolete type of flap creation involves a surgeon using a blade device to cut the corneal flap, and should be avoided, due to the increased risk of flap-related complications and inferior vision results.
The second type of surgery you should have is known as ‘wavefront’ LASIK (or LASEK / PRK). It may be called wavefront-optimised or wavefront-guided, though the results are the same between the two. Wavefront helps ensure that the optical properties of your cornea are similar the natural eye after treatment, and helps prevent glare or halos around light sources, e.g. headlights, at night.
How does the cost of laser eye surgery compare to glasses or contact lenses?
Contact lenses are a common solution for those who have a refractive error, such as short-sight or astigmatism. Buying daily disposable lenses which are thrown away at the end of the day is a convenient option and a common choice among lens users.
However, the risk of contact lenses is often under-appreciated as they also carry a risk of infections – if hands aren’t cleaned properly whilst handling contact lenses, or the lenses themselves aren’t sufficiently cleaned, infections can be likely to develop. The lens material can provide an attractive environment for aggressive organisms such as acanthamoeba to grow, and which is a potentially blinding condition.
The risk of vision loss from contact lenses has been shown to be 5 times higher than that of infection from LASIK.
The price of laser eye surgery can actually work out far more cost effective than glasses or contact lenses over an typical lifetime of use. The average person spends around £100 a year on glasses and/or £300 a year on contact lenses.
After 10 years, you would have spent more on glasses or contacts than you would have on LASIK for typical long- and short-sight prescriptions.
Most people with myopia (short-sight) require glasses by the time they reach their teens or early 20s. The lifetime spend on glasses and contacts would be £15,000 (based on 60 years glasses wear and 30 years using contact lenses). LASIK surgery costing £4,000 means a saving of more than £10,000 over the long-term.
LASIK would have paid for itself by the time the average patient reaches their mid 30’s (based on typical prescription strengths).
The combination of less risk of vision loss and lower costs than contact lenses and glasses, as well as long-term effective results, has led to LASIK eye surgery being the most commonly performed elective surgical procedure in the world.
You will always get what you pay and laser eye surgery is no different. It is better to pay more for a top-tier surgeon in an independent clinical setting than cut corners on a discounted procedure.