Laser eye surgery reshapes the eye surface to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, and is helping 18 million people a year say goodbye to glasses or contact lenses in the UK alone. But which is the best eye surgery, and is laser eye treatment even right for you?
To help you make an informed decision, this article explains the best places for laser eye surgery in the UK, the top-rated laser eye surgeons, as well as the risks and success rates of the different procedures available (from LASIK to cataract surgery).
We share below our findings from the over 8,900 independent reviews from former patients for laser eye surgery clinics and opthalmic surgeons submitted on our site, reports on clinics from the Care Quality Commission and information about surgeons from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
Read on for the full list of the best laser eye surgery providers and surgeons for you to compare. Or, if you would like to book a free consultation to talk through your options with a qualified consultant, just tap here to find a top-rated laser eye surgery clinic near you.
Our no-nonsense review of the best laser eye surgery in the UK covers:
- 8 best laser eye clinics
- 2 laser eye clinics to avoid
- 10 best laser eye surgeons
- How much will laser eye surgery cost?
- Laser eye surgery FAQs
Best Laser Eye Surgery Clinics
The UK is home to many world class laser eye surgery companies, and the good news is you do not always have to travel to London to find a top-rated eye hospital or clinic.
The best laser eye surgery providers must deliver on cleanliness, experience of surgeons, involving you in the decisions made, properly explaining the procedure, and providing free and appropriate aftercare.
Based on independent reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the many thousands of customer reviews submitted by real patients to our website, the five top-rated laser eye clinics in the UK are Optical Express, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Optegra, Advanced Vision Care and Accuvision.
Here is a full run-down of the best places for eye laser surgery in the UK:
|Clinic||Areas of Expertise||Customer Rating|
1. Optical Express
|LASIK and LASEK surgery|
Cataracts / Lens replacement
2. Moorfields Eye Hospital
| LASIK and LASEK surgery |
Glaucoma / Cataracts
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
| LASIK and LASEK surgery |
Lens replacement / Cataracts
|Regular open days
4. Advanced Vision Care
|LASIK and LASEK surgery|
Implantable contact lenses / Lens exchange
Cataracts / Keratoconus
|LASIK and LASEK surgery|
Cataracts / Amblyopia (lazy eye)
|Laser eye specialist
6. Centre for Sight
|LASIK and LASEK surgery |
Implantable contact lenses / Cataracts
|LASIK and LASEK surgery |
Refractive lens exchange / Cataracts
8. London Vision Clinic
|ReLEx SMILE |
LASIK and LASEK surgery
But of course, the right eye surgery centre for you will depend on a number of factors including your budget, location, and the treatment you require.
To see your options and book a free consultation with a laser eye specialist at a top-rated clinic near you, just use our quick quote tool here.
1. Optical Express: Most popular laser eye surgery
Optical Express is the UK’s leading provider of laser eye surgery, lens surgery, and cataract surgery, with thousands of operations performed every week.
In reviews, patients most praise how clearly the surgeons explain the procedure, as well as the quality of treatment received. High Street clinics are also often more affordable options than hospital-based clinics: prices at Optical Express start at £595 per eye, compared with £2,00 per eye at Moorfields Private.
- Surgeons – All Optical Express Consultants are fully registered with the General Medical Council, and many are Members of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
- Technology – Optical Express has invested £400 million in cutting-edge laser eye surgery technology (including the most advanced excimer lasers and femtosecond) to provide the best clinical outcomes.
- Aftercare – The comprehensive programme includes a next-day aftercare appointment, an out-of-hours helpline with a specialist optometrist or surgeon, and further follow-up appointments.
2. Moorfields Eye Hospital: Most renowned clinic
With over 200 years researching and providing world-class laser eye treatment, Moorfields is one of the oldest and most renowned clinics globally.
Moorfields Private specialises in a range of laser eye surgeries, including some of the most complex procedures not offered elsewhere.
Its patients appreciate the expertise of the surgeons, and the clear communication of the risks involved in the initial consultations, though these are not free, as with most other companies on this list.
3. Optegra: Regular open evenings
Optegra is an experienced provider of laser vision correction, refractive lens exchange, and cataract surgery, and uses leading ophthalmic equipment. It has eye hospitals and clinics nationwide, where it often invites prospective patients to take a tour and meet the surgeons.
4. Advanced Vision Care: Easy aftercare check-ups
4. Advanced Vision Care is an independent laser eye practice on Harley Street, London, with a network of clinics around the UK for convenient check-ups. Patients benefit from free assessments and interest-free finance plans, which you can pay in monthly instalments.
5. AccuVision: Specialists in laser eye surgery
Since starting in 2001, AccuVision has performed over 400,000 laser eye treatments in its clinics in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol and Newcastle. It specialises in LASIK and LASIK surgery, and uses world-class Wavefront Technology in all operations.
6. Centre for Sight: Best for clinic experience
Centre for Sight is one of the largest private providers of laser eye treatment, with clinics in London, Oxshott, Surrey and West Sussex. It combines high quality lasers and implants with an environment that feels more like a spa than a hospital.
7. Focus Clinic: Specialist in presbyopia
Focus Clinic is a reputed eye clinic on Harley Street, London, which specialises in highly accurate wavefront treatment for reading glasses (presbyopia) through Z-LASIK, LASEK and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgeries.
8. London Vision Clinic: Experts in laser refractive surgery
The London Vision Clinic prides itself on its innovation of vision correction, including ReLEx (a ‘flap-less’ treatment for short-sightedness) and Laser Blended Vision to remove the need for reading glasses. Patient reviews appreciate the clear discussion of the risks involved.
Two laser eye clinics to avoid
1. Optimax: Lack of clear communication
Optimax receives the lowest rating of hundreds of UK clinics – from nearly one thousand independent customer reviews, it scores just four out of five stars on average from 893 reviews.
It only offers the most common laser eye treatments, and the most frequent complaints involve not properly explaining the procedure, not getting enough time with the surgeon, and a hard sales technique.
2. Ultralase Eye Clinics Limited: Some lifetime guarantee issues
Ultralase Eye Clinics Limited is the rebranded Ultralase, since it got into financial troubles in 2012, and is now co-owned by Optimax. Despite positive reviews, some former patients have had difficulties accessing their lifetime guarantee, which BBC’s Watchdog exposed in 2015.
How Do I Find the Right Clinic For Me?
Choosing the best clinic to perform your laser eye surgery is an important decision, and one that is very personal. What may have been a good fit for a friend or colleague may not be the best 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. It is a good idea to compare several different choices before making a selection.
To help you compare laser eye clinics, these are three key questions to ask:
- What types of laser eye surgery are offered? Not all clinics perform every type of laser eye procedure, so you should check that they perform the surgery you need to correct your visual problem.
- Is the clinic accessible? You may be happy to go further afield to have surgery, but choosing a clinic that is easy to travel to is advisable. After surgery you will not be able to drive, so you will need to find a clinic that has good public transport routes or is easy for someone else to get to in order to pick you up.
- How new is its laser technology? Whilst state-of-the-art technology can drive up the cost of your surgery, it can make the procedure quicker, more accurate and less uncomfortable. This is likely to improve your overall experience and reduce your chance of developing any complications following surgery.
You will want an expert to answer all your questions, so it is worth booking a consultation with an ophthalmic specialist.
Most laser eye surgery clinics offer a free, no-obligation meeting, during which you will be able to check whether you are eligible for laser vision correction, have the appropriate procedures explained to you, and ask any questions you have.
Warning Signs to Look Out For
Be sure to book consultations with several well-rated clinics, so you can compare the results, and spot any red flags, including:
- Pushy sales tactics
- No cancellation rights
- Claims of 99% to 100% success rates (these are usually only true under strict criteria such as as young patients and simple procedures)
Remember not to trust reviews only from the company’s website, as they are open to cherry-picking to give the best impression. You can always perform your own due-diligence by reading impartial reviews online, and checking independent reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects clinics to assess how safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led they are.
Best Laser Eye Surgeons
The top eye surgeons are highly qualified in laser eye surgery, have extensive experience in vision correction, and come recommended by other GPs and opthalmic surgeons as well as former patients.
To track down the best laser eye surgeons in the UK, we reviewed certificate of competences from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, verified memberships with the General Medical Council, and of course, used our thousands of independent patient reviews.
So, who are the highest rated for eye surgery? Based on these trusted sources, here are the best-reviewed laser eye surgeons in the UK:
- Mr David Gartry is one of the most experienced eye surgeons in the UK, and was the first person in the country to perform ophthalmic surgery. Today, he has a world-class reputation, and is a Senior Consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital London.
- Mr Allon Barsam is a highly experienced Consultant Opthalmic Surgeon who specialises in laser eye, cataract and cornea surgery. He practises in a clinic on Harley Street, London, and in Hertfordshire.
- Mr Bruce Allan is another leading Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields, and as been Service Director at The Refractive Surgery Service since 2012.
- Mr Julian Stevens has been a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital since 1988. He specialises in laser refractive surgery, and has performed over 18,000 treatments.
- Mr Sheraz Daya is the Medical Director and a leading Consultant at the Centre for Sight. The DailyMail recently voted him one of the best cataract surgeons in Britain.
- Mr Romesh Angunawela is a leading Consultant Opthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Private, where he also trained. He has nearly three years’ advanced specialisation in complex eye surgery, and is known for his conferences and scientific publications globally.
- Mr Manek Patel is a highly respected Optical Surgeon at Optical Express. With his many years’ experience, he has performed over 61,000 procedures.
- Professor Dan Reinstein is a pioneering LASIK surgeon with over 18-years’ experience in laser eye surgery. Since graduating from Cambridge University, he has practised at the London Vision Clinic.
- Mr Dimitri Kazakos is the most senior surgeon at Optical Express, with special expertise in cataract, laser refractive surgery, and eye diseases, and accreditation from the Royal College of Opthalmologists.
- Mr David Allamby has specialised in laser eye surgery since 1989, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. He offers LASIK, LASEK and CK radio eye correction at Focus Clinic.
How Do I Choose the Right Surgeon?
Finding the best surgeon to perform your laser eye procedure is extremely important. To help you check who has the experience and credentials to take good care of your eyes, it’s worth asking plenty of questions.
The key questions to help you pick the best eye surgeon for you are:
- What qualifications do they have? All laser eye surgeons working in the UK must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). You should ask them where they were trained and how long for, how many years of experience they have had performing laser eye surgery and whether they have continued to keep up with training and the latest developments in eye surgery since obtaining their qualifications.
- Do they have a good reputation? Ask about their success rate, what their former patients have said about them and whether they have any before and after pictures of their surgery.
- How many surgeries have they performed? Find out about their history of performing laser eye surgery. The more surgeries they have carried out, the more skilled and experienced they are likely to be. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists awards certifications to members who have carried out a minimum of 300 procedures over a two year period, so you should ask your surgeon if they have this accreditation.
- How long is their waiting list? You may not be able to have laser eye treatment straight away, as your chosen surgeon 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. A surgeon with a long waiting list is usually a good indication that they are well-known and trustworthy.
- What pre-operative checks do they offer? They should offer tests to check relevant details, such as corneal surface thickness, as well as pupil size and any other factors that may have an impact on your surgery. During this time, you must be able to ask any questions you might have.
If you would like to sign up for the surgery, make sure you check your cancellation rights, and do not feel pressured into parting with any cash. Laser eye surgery is an investment, and you will want to consider all your options before committing.
Once you have asked these questions and feel comfortable with the responses, you can begin comparing qualified surgeons to decide on the best clinic for your laser eye treatment.
How Much Does Laser Eye Surgery Cost?
The average cost of laser eye surgery in the UK ranges from just £595 per eye up to £2175 per eye, depending on the type of procedure you have, and the clinic you choose.
The most common vision correction surgeries such as LASIK and LASIK often cost the least, since the equipment and surgeons required to perform these treatments are readily available, and the risks are some of the lowest. For the opposite reason, specialist treatments such as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) or Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) typically cost more.
The table below shows the price of the most common types of laser eye surgery, based on prices from the UK’s best laser eye surgery clinics.
|Laser Eye Surgery Procedure||Prices From (per eye)||Prices To (per eye)||Average Cost (per eye)|
|LASEK / PRK||£595||£2,235||£1,665|
|Wavefront LASIK / LASEK||£1,695||£2,235||£2,225|
For an exact quote, just talk to the laser eye clinics you are considering directly. These are the core factors that can affect the cost of your laser eye surgery treatment:
- The eye condition being treated
- The strength of your prescription
- The size and location of the clinic
- The sophistication of the clinic’s technology
Because the price of treatment can be high, many clinics also offer finance packages. This enables you to spread the cost of your surgery over a period of six to 48 months using small financial instalments.
Many clinics now try to help you spread the costs with interest-free finance options, which means you will only need to pay back the total cost of your surgery. You will need to put down a deposit, however, in order to secure a date for your surgery.
What You Need to Know About Laser Eye Surgery
1. Is Laser Eye Surgery Safe?
Laser eye surgery is generally considered safe. All surgical procedures carry risks, but laser eye surgery has one of the highest success rates.
These are the most common risks of laser vision correction, according to the 2017 report by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists:
- Loss of vision: Fewer than 1 in 5,000 patients
- Additional surgery: Up to 1 in 10 patients for the best results
- Risks of contact lens wear: Around 1 in 3,000 contact lens wearers a year develop a corneal infection
You can also expect these temporary side effects following surgery:
- Vision: Most patients experience common symptoms such as halos, starbursts and ghost images.
- Eye comfort: Blurry vision and dry eyes are common during the healing process.
- Eye appearance: Red blotches may appear, especially after LASIK, and can take up to six weeks to heal.
2. How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Complications?
You need to be awake for laser eye surgery, so you can eat and drink as normal. Here are simple steps you can take to avoid anything going wrong during and after surgery:
- Relax during the procedure: Modern excimer lasers will either hold your eye still or track any movements during surgery, so you do not need to worry about blinking.
- Keep your eyes lubricated: Use lubricant drops or keep your eyes closed when you can following surgery.
- Avoid contact sports: Non-contact sports such as jogging are fine as early as the next day, but steer clear of others for the first month month.
- Take your medication: Set yourself reminders, so you do not forget to use your anti-inflammatory drops.
- Attend all your follow-up appointments: Even if your eyes feel good, make sure you get an expert opinion.
3. Can You Get Laser Eye Surgery on the NHS?
Unfortunately, it is very rare for laser eye surgery to be offered on the NHS, since conditions such as long and short sightedness have alternative treatments: glasses or contact lenses.
To qualify for free surgery either on the NHS or from your private health insurance, you must be diagnosed with a medical condition that could cause blindness if left untreated. The most common conditions include Cataracts, Wet Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and specific diseases of the cornea (eye surface).
4. Is It Worth Getting Laser Eye Surgery Abroad?
Some people seek vision correction abroad in an attempt to cut costs, but with world-class laser eye surgery treatment and globally renowned surgeons available in the UK, the risk of complications is higher.
You may also not save as much as you expect. Laser eye surgery can be half to a third cheaper in European countries such as Poland, Prague, and the Czech Republic (or as far flung as Thailand), but that initial saving does not include the price of flights, accommodation, and insurance.
5. What Should I Look Out For in the Consultation?
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. Be wary of these, and select a clinic where your consultation is at least a few days prior to the procedure. Your surgeon should attend these assessments, and if you have any follow-up questions, make sure they are the one who answers them.
It is always worth examining your package 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.
10 Laser Eye Surgery FAQs
- How does laser eye surgery work?
- Is laser eye surgery painful?
- What are the risks and success rates for laser eye treatment?
- Can laser eye surgery fix astigmatism?
- What is the difference between LASIK and LASEK?
- What is the age limit for laser eye surgery?
- How long does laser eye surgery last?
- Can you have laser eye surgery more than once?
- What can I expect during and after the surgery?
- How long is the recovery time?
Next Steps: Compare Clinics
If you would like to book a free consultation with a specialist ophthalmologist at a top-rated laser eye ans lens surgery clinic near you, just use our quick quote tool here.