What Is Wavefront Laser Eye Surgery?
Wavefront laser eye surgery is often considered to be the gold standard of laser eye surgery as it increases your chances of achieving 20:20 vision. This is because precise measurements of the entire cornea are taken (the clear surface of the eye), instead of being taken at just one specific point on the cornea as in standard laser eye surgery.
By analysing the whole of the cornea, wavefront laser eye surgery is able to identify any imperfections across your entire visual field, rather than in just one specific area of it. This makes the surgery much more customised to your individual eye, producing better quality visual outcomes. Wavefront laser eye surgery can be used to correct myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
How Does It Work?
The step-by-step guide below shows you what to expect during wavefront laser eye surgery:
- An ophthalmic surgeon will direct a laser with a flat surface onto your entire cornea.
- The imperfections on your cornea will change the shape of the laser’s surface.
- These changes are recorded by a machine known as an Aberrometer.
- The changes are then analysed by the Aberrometer and a topographical 3D, computer image of your cornea will be created.
- This image will be used to guide the laser during eye surgery to precisely change the shape of your cornea to correct problems with vision.
There are two main types of wavefront laser eye surgery: wavefront-guided LASIK and wavefront-guided LASEK. In both types of surgery, the corneal tissue is exposed before a wavefront-guided excimer laser is used to change its shape. The only difference between both types of surgery is how the corneal tissue is revealed. In wavefront-guided LASIK surgery, a small flap is created in the cornea to reach the tissue below, whereas in wavefront-guided LASEK surgery, the whole top layer of the cornea is folded back to expose the underlying tissue.
Who Is Eligible For Wavefront Laser Eye Surgery?
To find out if you are eligible for wavefront laser eye surgery, you should book a consultation with an ophthalmologist who will conduct a thorough assessment of your eyes to determine if it is a suitable procedure for you. It is important to bear in mind however, that you are likely to be deemed unsuitable for the surgery if:
- You are under the age of 21 years old
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You suffer from an autoimmune disease
- You have diabetes
- You suffer from severe dry eyes
- Your optical prescription has changed significantly within the past 12 months
- You have a serious eye disease, such as cataracts or glaucoma
How Much Does It Cost?
The average cost of wavefront laser eye surgery in the UK is around £1,500 per eye, although prices can exceed over £2,000 per eye. The cost comparison table below shows you how much you can expect to pay for wavefront-guided laser eye surgery at some of the top-rated eye surgery clinics in the UK:
|Clinic||Price Per Eye|
|Advanced Vision Care||Quote available on request|
|Optical Express||From £1500|
As you can see, prices do vary considerably between clinics with some charging more than others. This is due to a number of factors such as the size and location of the clinic, and the expertise of the surgeon performing the procedure. To find out more about what can affect the price of wavefront laser eye surgery, visit our laser eye surgery cost page.
We also recommend that you understand exactly what is included in the advertised price when choosing a clinic for wavefront laser eye treatment. This is because aftercare and other services can sometimes be charged at an extra cost, thus increasing the overall price you will pay. You should shop around to find the best deal for you, but never just choose a clinic based on price alone – consider other factors such as patient reviews and whether you could build a relationship with the surgeon.
Can I Get Wavefront Laser Eye Surgery On Finance?
Many eye surgery clinics offer their patients finance options to enable you to spread the cost of wavefront laser eye surgery over numerous months if you cannot afford to pay for the treatment upfront. The table below provides you with information about the shortest and longest financial deals for wavefront laser eye surgery, as well as the deposit amount, at some of the UK’s leading clinics:
|Clinic||Deposit||Shortest Payback Period||Longest Payback Period|
|Advanced Vision Care||From £500||Quote available on request||0% APR x 24 months = from £62.29 per month|
|Accuvision||Quote available on request||Quote available on request||Quote available on request|
|Optical Express||From £500||0% APR x 10 months = from £69.50 per month||11.5% APR x 72 months = from £13.21 per month|
|Optimax||From £169.50||Quote available on request||11.5% APR x 36 months = from £50.30 per month|
|Ultralase||From £169.50||0% APR x 10 months = from £152.55 per month||11.5% APR x 36 months = from £50.30 per month|
There is a lot to consider when purchasing laser eye surgery through finance, and the deal you choose will depend on what is right for you. Some important things to consider are:
- The deposit is usually around 10% of the overall amount you owe the clinic. With some deposits starting from £500, it is important to ensure that you have enough money to cover this, particularly because clinics require the deposit to be paid in order to book your surgery.
- The APR will usually increase the longer the payback period is, which means the overall cost of your surgery will be more. If possible, it is therefore best to opt for shorter payback periods.
- Make sure you will be able to repay the monthly instalments on time, otherwise it can affect your credit score making it harder to enter into financial agreements in the future.
Can I Get Wavefront Laser Eye Surgery On The NHS?
Unfortunately, wavefront laser eye surgery is not available on the NHS. This is because it is used to treat refractive errors such as myopia (near-sightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) that can be treated successfully through non-surgical means such as prescription glasses or contact lenses. Undergoing laser eye surgery for these conditions is therefore considered a cosmetic procedure rather than a clinical one, and so the spending of NHS resources is not justifiable. This means that you will have to fund wavefront laser eye surgery yourself. The only time the treatment may be available on the NHS is if you suffer from a condition that can lead to blindness if left untreated.
Benefits Of Wavefront Laser Eye Surgery
There are many reasons why wavefront laser eye surgery is considered the most effective type of laser eye surgery for treating refractive errors. Some benefits of the treatment include:
- Results are longer lasting: there is less chance that you will need a second round of laser eye surgery following wavefront-guided treatment.
- The quality of your vision will improve: research has shown that both how much you can see, and how well you can see in high- and low-light conditions, improves to a better extent in patients who have had wavefront laser eye surgery compared to standard laser eye surgery. It also reduces issues with night vision such as glare and halos around lights, one of the most commonly reported complications of the standard laser procedure.
- It guarantees better accuracy: because the wavefront procedure records more precise measurements of your eye’s visual imperfections, the treatment is highly tailored to your specific eye. This means that there is a much higher chance of achieving 20:20 vision.
Are There Any Complications?
Although wavefront laser eye surgery is an extremely safe and effective procedure at treating refractive errors, it is important to be aware of potential complications associated with the surgery. Whilst these complications are rare, you should keep an eye out for the following problems following surgery so that you can book an appointment with your ophthalmic surgeon for further advice should they occur. Possible complications include:
- Eye infection: this is rare since the corneal flap acts like a natural bandage around the eye. If an infection does occur however, it can be easily treated with a course of medicated eye drops.
- Dry eyes: some who undergo wavefront laser eye surgery experience a decrease in the production of tears following the treatment, which can cause dry eyes and discomfort. Dry eyes are often only a short-term complication, and can be treated successfully with lubricating eye drops. In a small number of cases however, dry eyes can become permanent and artificial tears will need to be used for the rest of your life.
- Under- or over-correction: not everyone heals from wavefront laser eye surgery the same – some heal faster than others, whereas some heal slower. This can result in under- or over-correction of your refractive error, whereby 20:20 vision is not achieved. This can be treated with an additional course of laser eye surgery, but if this is not possible due to your corneas being too thin, prescription glasses or contact lenses will need to be worn.
- Visual disturbances: symptoms such as blurred vision, light sensitivity, halos and glare can occur within the first few weeks following surgery. These disturbances tend to clear up within six months however, without the need for any medical intervention.
To minimize the chances of these complications arising, you should strictly follow the post-operative instructions given to you by your ophthalmic surgeon.