How Regulated is the Laser Eye Surgery Industry?
In the grand scheme of the history of medicine, Laser Eye Surgery is still an extremely new procedure. Yet, since its standardisation around 3 decades ago, it has quickly become the most popular elective surgery in the world.
These days, more than 100,000 people opt to have Laser Eye Surgery each year in the UK alone. The persisting popularity of the treatment is largely owed to its high success rate. In turn, this popularity has led to more investment in advancing the development of treatment performance and safety.
On the flip side, however, it has also led to the development of a huge number of high street providers offering Laser Eye Surgery. Furthermore, the industry remains largely unregulated – a problem not only for the reputation of the industry itself but also for the unfortunate patients that are exposed to substandard treatment standards.
A growing number of patients are now seeking the expertise of private clinics after having received poor advice or treatment elsewhere. With no sign that demand will level off, many experienced surgeons are appealing for regulators to step up.
Nonetheless, the issue remains for now, with standards of care differing significantly across different clinics.
Different Standards of Care
A recent investigation by the consumer group, Which?, found just how much of a difference there is among providers. Shockingly, one in three initial consultations by clinics was found to be of poor quality, with several clinics failing to properly explain the potential risks of surgery.
The unfortunate truth is that the commercialisation of Laser Eye Surgery has led to some high street providers using high-pressure sales tactics to bring in business and boost their sales. As a result, it is unsurprising to consistently see some of the UK’s largest high-street chains at the bottom of the list for quality.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that Laser Eye Surgery does not need to be performed by a surgeon or doctor with specialist training. The person performing the surgery simply needs to be a registered doctor – but many experienced Laser Eye surgeons insist this isn’t enough.
Choosing The Right Clinic
Hopefully, in the future, we will see an approved register of practitioners that can make finding a qualified and experienced surgeon much easier. For the moment, however, it remains down to the individual to carry out their own research. So, how do you find a clinic and surgeon that best meets your needs?
One of the most important steps in the Laser Eye Surgery process is your initial consultation. At the consultation, the surgeon will inform you of your eligibility and draw up your personal treatment plan. However, you will also be made aware of the risks and side effects associated with treatment.
Independent clinics like London Vision Clinic consistently come out on top when it comes to initial consultations, with high street providers falling far behind.
More Questions You Should Ask when Vetting a Clinic:
- Does the surgeon have formal refractive surgery training?
- What are the results for patients with a similar prescription to mine?
- How much time will you spend with me after the surgery?
- Are there any hidden costs?
While the industry remains unregulated, research and due diligence remain extremely important. But, once you have found the right clinic and an experienced and knowledgeable surgeon, you will finally have more peace of mind that the process will go smoothly.
If you would like to learn more about Laser Eye Surgery or learn about the qualifications of our surgeons, Book a Consultation today, or get in touch on 020 7224 1005 to speak to one of our friendly clinic coordinators.