Medically reviewed on 17-August-2023
If your eyesight has recently deteriorated – and you’ve started considering laser eye surgery – you might well be feeling a little perplexed.
Perhaps, you’ve heard rumblings you can get free treatment on the NHS? Or maybe you’ve been told that you’ll have to go private? We realise that the road to laser eye surgery can be fraught with confusion and worry – and we understand it is unsettling when you don’t know how to proceed.
At Optegra, we’re here to help. Read on, as we explain whether it is possible to get laser eye surgery through the NHS – and break down the pros and cons of private and public laser eye surgery.
Is Laser Eye Surgery available on the NHS?
First things first: is it actually even possible to get laser eye surgery through the NHS?
Technically, the answer is yes – but the reality is that laser eye surgery is only available via the NHS for sufferers of a select few serious medical conditions.
Generally, you will only be eligible to receive laser eye surgery through the NHS if you have ocular disease and your eyesight cannot be restored by wearing glasses or contact lenses, or if you are at risk of blindness.
Which conditions can be treated on the NHS?
There are a few ocular conditions which allow patients to receive free laser eye surgery through the NHS. These include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Lens capsule thickening after cataract surgery
- Corneal degeneration and corneal erosion
- Glaucoma, when there is a risk of blindness
Occasionally, the NHS may also approve laser eye surgery in cases where a patient’s overall quality of life would seriously improve with treatment. Examples of this include:
- Patients who would struggle to put on or remove contact lenses or glasses without assistance – such as sufferers of Parkinson’s, quadriplegia or tetraplegia
- Epilepsy sufferers – whose risk of seizure may be increased by wearing glasses
Which conditions cannot be treated by laser eye surgery on the NHS?
While the rare ocular conditions listed above entitle patients to receive treatment through the NHS, the vast majority of those who require laser eye surgery will not be eligible for free treatment.
The NHS does not approve laser eye surgery for conditions including:
- Myopia (short-sightedness)
- Hyperopia (long-sightedness)
- Astigmatism (blurred vision due to imperfect eye curvature)
The NHS does not offer laser eye surgery for cases based on mental health grounds.
Glaucoma sufferers are entitled to laser eye surgery through the NHS – but this will generally only be approved once all other options (including eye drops and other more affordable remedies) have failed to work.
I’m not eligible to receive laser eye surgery through the NHS – what are my options?
If you’re ready for laser eye surgery, but aren’t eligible for NHS treatment, there’s no need to worry.
Most patients go private – in many cases, private clinics are able to offer facilities and services that NHS practices cannot match.
Optegra – the UK’s top-rated laser provider on both Doctify and Trustpilot – has dedicated eye hospitals in Central London, Surry , Manchester, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Birmingham, as well as ,an outreach clinic in Leeds.
What are the advantages of private laser eye surgery?
Opting to undergo laser eye surgery at a private practice does offer several benefits over NHS treatment. These include:
- Speed of service: Whereas patients receiving free laser eye surgery from the NHS can expect to wait at least a year for treatment, those who opt for private surgery will experience little to no waiting time. Optegra offers free virtual consultations – easily bookable online – and can schedule surgery for whenever it suits you. By contrast, you may wait for months on end for NHS treatment, and then get stuck with an appointment time that doesn’t suit your schedule.
- World-class facilities: When you choose Optegra, your laser eye surgery will be performed at a specialist eye hospital – boasting the latest technology and state-of-the-art facilities.
- Tailored treatment: At Optegra, we understand that every patient is unique – and always endeavour to provide a solution that suits you. We offer laser eye surgery via LASIK, LASEK and ReLEx SMILE: an expert consultant will talk you through the options, make sure you’re comfortable and support you every step of the way.
- Proper aftercare: While The NHS’s resources are extremely stretched, Optegra can offer comprehensive aftercare to all of its patients. When treatment is complete, you can relax in our recovery lounge until you’re ready to return home. Nor does our service stop there: we will also schedule a follow-up exam to ensure that you are not experiencing any complications from surgery.
- One surgeon, start to finish: At Optegra, we ensure that patients see the same ophthalmic surgeon – from first appointment right through to aftercare. This helps guarantee the highest degree of customer satisfaction, and ensures that you’re treated by someone who fully understands your needs.
If you have any questions regarding Optegra’s private laser eye surgery options, why not call us free on 0808 231 8636, or visit our website to download a free infopack or book a free virtual consultation.
By Author: Alex J Shortt
Mr Shortt is a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.