Is Private Cataract Surgery Better Than NHS Cataract Surgery?
Cataract Surgery is the most common elective procedure in the UK with almost half a million procedures carried out by the NHS every year (pre-pandemic). But when faced with the need for Cataract Surgery yourself, you may wonder: Is private treatment better than treatment on the NHS?
When deciding whether to opt for private treatment, it’s important to be aware of all of the facts. There are several differences between private and NHS Cataract Surgery which may influence your final decision. But before we take a closer look at how they differ, let’s cover some of the basics.
What is Cataract Surgery?
As we get older, there are a number of changes that everyone will eventually experience. One of these changes is the development of cataracts. As a natural part of the eye’s ageing process, cataracts become increasingly common as we age. For example, it is estimated that cataracts affect 55% of people aged over 60 compared with 17% of those aged 40-59.
As they begin to mature, cataracts can cause significant obstruction to vision and even blindness. Therefore, taking action is vital.
Cataract Surgery is the only effective solution to remove cataracts from the eye. As cataracts form inside the lens, the procedure is focused on the removal of the natural lensreplacing it with an artificial one, known as an intraocular lens (IOL).
Cataract Surgery: NHS vs Private
Cataract Surgery on the NHS has a consistently high success rates and results are published regularly, giving patients peace of mind that they are in good hands. However, as we said earlier, there are some differences between NHS treatment and Cataract Surgery available at private clinics.
Intraocular Lens Variety
Perhaps the most significant of these differences is the variety of intraocular lenses on offer. The primary aim of Cataract Surgery on the NHS is to remove the cataract. Due to cost restrictions, there is little room to consider the potential for vision correction and reducing the patient’s need for glasses post-surgery.
In the vast majority of cases, the NHS offers only monofocal lenses. These are lenses that are designed to focus at one field of vision – usually distance vision. As a result, patients will likely require glasses or contact lenses in order to achieve clear intermediate and near vision following their surgery.
At private clinics, there is often a much wider variety of IOLs available. For example, at London Vision Clinic, we are able to offer the complete range of commercially available IOLs to our patients. These premium IOLs can be used to correct long-sightedness, short-sightedness and even astigmatism, giving our patients clear vision while reducing (and even eliminating) the need for glasses.
Waiting Times and Choice of Surgeon
While having access to a wider variety of IOLs can have an impact on your life post-surgery, there a number of things that can affect your experience before even heading into the operating room: waiting times and your choice of surgeon.
In recent years, the NHS has unfortunately experienced building criticism due to increased patient waiting times. Cataract Surgery is no exception to this trend. Recent figures show that some patients are now waiting for up to 21 months to have Cataract Surgery through the NHS. In contrast, most patients who opt for private treatment are seen within just a matter of weeks.
Private Cataract Surgery also gives patients the opportunity to choose their own surgeon. While in many cases, NHS patients won’t meet their surgeon until the day of their procedure, private patients will meet with their chosen surgeon multiple times, before and after their surgery day. Many people find that this makes the whole process less intimidating.
Weighing Up the Pros and Cons
While there are clearly a range of benefits to opting for Cataract Surgery at a private clinic, it is also important to consider the elephant in the room: the cost.
Of course, private treatment, unlike NHS treatment, is not free. For many people, this will understandably make private Cataract Surgery far less appealing.
However, at London Vision Clinic, we believe that high-quality treatment shouldn’t only be attainable for the wealthy. That’s why we offer 0% finance plans that can be tailored to your needs.