Since its advent in the UK over 20 years ago, the technology and safety of laser eye surgery in the UK has improved dramatically. Over 100,000 people in the UK now undergo various laser eye procedures on an annual basis. With such a large market, it follows that a lot of clinics and surgeons will be competing for their share. So what help is out there when it comes to choosing which clinic to use, and what factors need to be taken into consideration when making this life changing decision?
Finding the best clinic for you
Choosing the clinic to carry out your laser eye surgery is an incredibly important decision, and a very personal one.
What may have been a good fit for a friend or colleague for example may not be the right choice for you. Your optician will be able to provide you with some initial suggestions regarding local clinics, and you can continue your research from there. Doing ample research and comparing several different choices before making a selection is therefore incredibly important. There are certain factors that will influence which is the best clinic for you, such as:
- The condition that requires treatment
- The type of laser eye treatment you wish to have (such as LASIK, wavefront LASIK, LASEK, or PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)
- Your budget (if you are not having treatment on the NHS)
- Your location, and whether or not you are willing to travel for treatment
You should also make sure to enquire about the qualifications and experience of the surgeon who will be carrying out your treatment at the clinic. The Royal Society of Ophthalmologists awards certifications to members who have carried out a minimum of 300 procedures over a two-year period, so you should ask if your surgeon has this accreditation among others.
To find the answers to the above and other questions, you should book a consultation with the clinic. Most clinics will offer a free, no-obligation meeting during which you will be able to ask as many questions as you like and have the procedure in question explained to you. Make sure to book consultations with many different clinics so that you can compare the results, and be alerted to anything that doesn’t seem quite right. You can also do your due diligence by searching online to find out more about the clinics you have chosen. You can read impartial reviews and conduct more thorough research to make sure you are completely comfortable with your choice.
With the right treatment and care, you can make sure that you select the best possible clinic for your needs, and benefit from professional pre-operative and post-operative care along with safe and effective laser eye surgery.
Independent clinic reviews:
“Thank you so much for reassuring me making me feel comfortable. Supporting me. Showing me guidance. You and your team have been amazing.” Jason Reardon, Optical Express
“The service was impeccable, the staff are all so welcoming and helpful. I am thrilled and marvelled by the results. Thank you.” Victoria Elvin, Optegra
In these harsh economic times, the first thing people generally look at when deciding to purchase anything is the price. The same applies to laser eye surgery, and as it is quite expensive, it may be tempting to latch onto the first special offer one sees. However, advertised deals can often prove deceptive.
When a really low price is advertised it is generally referring to the mildest problem which can possibly be treated and the vast majority of people will not fall into this spectrum. The chances are you will end up paying significantly more. Also, a lot of advertised deals are not fully exclusive. For example, the price often refers to treatment for only one eye. In addition, some costs which could be incurred (such as consultation fees or aftercare) are not mentioned upfront.
It is therefore important that the consumer does extensive research before opting for a particular clinic or surgeon and make sure they get a written quote.
Consultation and aftercare
Laser eye surgery is generally a quick procedure with a short recovery time. However, no patient should ever be treated as just another statistic or rushed in and out of surgery.
With some clinics, a short consultation only takes place on the day of the surgery itself and there is no real opportunity to go away and think things through, or to raise any less immediate questions or concerns. Patients should therefore select a clinic where they can have a consultation a few days prior to the procedure – and with the surgeon who will be carrying it out. They should also ensure that should there be any follow up questions, this same surgeon answers them.
The package should also be examined carefully to see what form of aftercare is offered and at what price (if any). Ideally, there should be a few follow up appointments offered and preferably with the treating surgeon. It should also be clear what liability is carried by the clinic in the rare event that things do not go as planned.
Surgeon’s skills and reputation
One of the most important decisions you can make regarding your laser eye procedure is choosing the right surgeon and clinic.
When making your selection, you should make sure to ask a number of questions about the surgeon’s training, such as where they were trained and how long for, how many years of experience they have had performing laser refractive surgery, if they have continued to keep up with training and latest developments in the surgery since obtaining their initial qualifications, and more. You should cross-reference this information with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and ask to see proof of qualifications and ideally past results as well.
In addition to questions about the clinic and surgeon, there are some other important questions you should be sure to ask prior to undergoing treatment, such as:
- What is available to me in the way of pre-operative consultations and examinations? You should make sure that ample tests are done to determine things like corneal surface type and thickness, pupil size, and other important factors that will impact your surgery. You should also be given plenty of opportunities to ask questions to feel comfortable with your surgeon and the procedure overall.
- What is available to me in the way of post-operative care? You may need to stay in the clinic for treatment following your surgery, but you should also enquire about what is available regarding any further treatment pertaining to complications, and if this comes at additional cost.
- How many procedures have you carried out? Enquire about their history operating on patients, and ask to see before and after pictures and testimonials. You should ideally be able to speak to past patients to enquire about their experience with the surgery to get an idea of whether the clinic is the right one for you.
- How long is the waiting list? You may not be able to have laser eye treatment straight away, as your chosen clinic may have a number of patients already scheduled. If your need for laser eye treatment is time-sensitive, determining if there is a waiting list is important.
- How long will the procedure take, and how long is the recovery period? Make sure that you factor in things like childcare and time required off work if necessary to maximise your recovery period and reduce the risk of complications.
Once you have asked these questions and feel comfortable with the responses, you can begin comparing these between surgeons to decide upon the best clinic for your laser eye treatment.
Independent surgeon reviews:
“I was incredibly impressed with Dr Gartry not only for the excellent result but for the unique way he managed the operation making it a very reassuring and fast procedure.” Sue Leeson, Professor David S Gartry
“I can’t recommend Alex Ionides and Moorfields Eye Hospital highly enough. The hospital itself has the best staff, equipment and surgery; and Alex was fantastic from the start to the end of the process.” Matt Robinson, Mr Alexander C W Ionides
“The service provided by Valerie and her team was fantastic and I am very pleased with the results. I would not hesitate to recommend her to any of my friends or family.” Caolan Gardner, Ms Valerie Saw