Getting Laser Eye Surgery Abroad

19 July 2024

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Medically reviewed on 19-July-2024

Health tourism in the UK is becoming increasingly popular. It is partly attractive to patients because of lower treatment costs and low-cost airfares.

However, crucial factors other than costs need to be considered when contemplating laser eye surgery or vision correction abroad. After all, when it comes to your health and safety, can you put a price on it?

Laser eye surgery falls into the category of elective procedures that make up a large percentage of medical tourism treatments. It’s used to correct the eyesight of people with visual impairments such as astigmatism and long and short-sightedness. But, before you make your final decision, read on to understand the external factors to consider when comparing laser eye treatment costs in the UK vs abroad, as our experts delve into their main concerns.


What is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism occurs when people in one country travel abroad to seek out medical treatments. The main reason people do so is to get surgical treatments at lower costs than in the UK; however, this only sometimes turns out to be the case.


For Brits, the main countries they travel to for laser eye treatments include Turkey, the Czech Republic, Poland, and India.


What is the Appeal of Having Eye Surgery Abroad?

The headline sounds very alluring—you can save up to 50% when getting laser eye surgery abroad. However, as we’ll see, there can be many risky (and costly) complications when people travel for surgery to far-off places.

Brochures and websites can be very convincing, showing scenic beaches and villas where patients can recover and even twin their recovery with a mini holiday. The number of clinics abroad offering such solutions is growing. Clinics in popular medical tourism destinations have recently been expanding their services to cater to international patients.


The Risks of Having Laser Eye Surgery Abroad 

Scratch a little deeper into the veneer, and you’ll find that the safety practices and regulatory requirements of many of these clinics fall dangerously short of the stringent regulations required by UK clinics. You’re only a Google or YouTube search away from seeing some of the many stories of surgery abroad gone wrong.

When you leave the costs question aside, there are many important factors that potential patients should be aware of, such as the surgeon’s experience and the quality of the facilities. When you’re facing surgery, the last thing you want to be questioning is whether you are in the hands of a capable surgeon or whether the clinic is clean and technologically fit for purpose.


The Cost of Laser Eye Surgery in the UK vs Abroad

The biggest myth about getting laser surgery abroad is that it is significantly cheaper. This is only sometimes the case, as it depends on your destination. There are, in fact, some countries in Europe where treatment is more expensive, including Norway and Belgium.

Of course, there are other destinations where treatment is cheaper. Many people now opt for laser eye surgery in Turkey for elective procedures such as laser eye surgery and other cosmetic treatments.

However, cheaper prices on laser eye surgery could well mean you’re not able to have your treatment carried out by an experienced surgeon in a five-star clinic, which is important in ensuring the best possible outcomes.

While it may be possible to save money on the cost of treatment, you have to factor in return flights to your destination, accommodation, expenses, and insurance. When you add it all together, you may not be making as big a savings as you imagine.



When considering the overall costs of treatment abroad, it is important to add in the cost of return flights and transfers for the patient and anyone else who may accompany them for support. These can often add up, especially if flights are long-haul to destinations like Thailand.



Suitable aftercare is important for the recovery process and to ensure optimal outcomes. While your initial hospital stay may be covered within the cost of surgery, the patient may be required to stay on for additional days afterward for checkups. When you have treatment in the UK with a top-rated eye hospital like Optegra, you are ensured regular checkup appointments for many months post-treatment. This is unlikely to be an option when getting your treatment abroad.


Medical Insurance 

Extensive specialist cover is required when booking travel insurance for surgery abroad. This costs significantly more than standard travel insurance and should be factored in before booking your surgery abroad.


The Procedure Time

Laser eye surgery is a very quick and effective procedure. Many patients are able to return to work within a day or two of treatment. However, you are not allowed to drive in the immediate aftermath of surgery, so you will need some help getting home.

However, if you are travelling abroad for treatment, you are not advised to fly for at least a week after treatment. That means taking an extra week out of your busy schedule, not to mention the added cost of paying for accommodation.

You may be able to use this time to enjoy a holiday, but with your eyes not returning to full capacity for some weeks, you may prefer to be at home in the days after treatment.


Safety and complications

In general, laser eye surgery is one of the safest procedures you can undergo, with fewer than 2% of treatments experiencing complications. Even then, many of these can be resolved quickly and easily, as long as you have the right aftercare.

If you opt for treatment abroad, you may be required to fly back to your destination for routine checkups, adding to costs. Or, if there is any complication with treatment, this could be a major issue.

Having your treatment carried out in the UK by a highly skilled surgeon reduces the risk of complications and means the necessary aftercare is on hand should you need it. It’s also important to have access to the best and most up-to-date facilities.


 What Are the Surgeon’s Qualifications?

Here at Optegra, we pride ourselves on having world-class surgeons who are highly qualified and leaders in their field. They’re all registered with official UK bodies and have trained at some of the most revered institutions in the world. Additionally, in the UK, all laser eye surgery clinics need to be regulated by the CQC, which is a government body. This ensures that the facilities and processes are of the highest standards possible.

If you travel abroad, your surgeon may be skilled and qualified. However, it is much harder to know what level of training they have and who has accredited their skills. You may also need to learn how efficient and safe the clinic where you are receiving treatment is. In the UK, surgeons are strictly regulated by the GMC, which will investigate any serious complaints raised by the public.

Many patients who have experienced treatment abroad report that they were not satisfied with the level of care or that it was lower than they were expecting. Opting for treatment at home gives you an idea of the standards and levels of care to expect. Travelling abroad is more of an unknown, reflecting the individual cultures of the destinations.


The Post-Operative Care After Laser Eye Surgery

For patients who elect to have laser eye surgery abroad, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the aftercare process that will be followed. Trusted providers like Optegra offer comprehensive aftercare packages as part of the overall cost of treatment. This is not necessarily the case when having treatment abroad. Additional costs will be applied for aftercare, which will need to be factored in when considering any potential savings.

There are many additional reasons to have your recovery at home, where your aftercare is available nearby. You’ll have access to modern technology and a specialist at every step of your recovery. Of equal importance, in the event of any emergencies, you’ll have immediate access to one of our aftercare team members, who will be able to help right away.

By choosing laser eye surgery here in the UK with Optegra, you know you will receive world-leading treatment, superb aftercare, and reduced risk of complications. Plus, your treatment will be far more convenient and less time-consuming, allowing you to recover at your own pace and in your own space. And that can be invaluable to the recovery process.

So why take the risk? Book your free consultation online now to find out more.

Alex Shortt Headshot

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Mr Shortt is a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.

Medically Reviewed Date: 19th July 2024


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