Would you consider cut-price Laser Eye Surgery?
Why would you pay more when you could get the same treatment and achieve the same outcome for less?
I mean, Laser Eye Surgery is Laser Eye Surgery wherever you go, right? It always rids people of the need to wear glasses or contacts and permanently improves their vision, so why shouldn’t you snap up that spring offer or wander down to the cheap clinic on the high street?
Well, as the industry is unregulated and the cost of Laser Eye Surgery often reflects the standard of treatment, there are many reasons you might not want to.
Just as the cosmetic industry was once awash with high-pressure sales tactics and aggressive inducements — until the GMC brought in stricter measures — so too is the market of Laser Eye Surgery. That’s why, when looking for a treatment, it’s easy to get drawn in by low-ball offers from budget clinics that care more about profits and less about technology, surgeons, and the individual patient experience.
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But despite the lack of control, there is a revered and widely recognised set of professional standards for refractive surgery published by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth). This document serves as a general guide for both clinics and patients. However, it’s not obligatory and therefore many clinics fall below the quality level that is upheld by so many others.
The real risk of cut-cost surgery
A Which? investigation revealed the extent to which cheap providers fail to live up to the standards advised by the RCOphth in a comprehensive review of independent and high street clinics.
The first thing they noticed was the bold and unfounded claims — things like ‘The next day you’ll have 20/20 vision and no need for glasses’. Such statements are used to close sales and fail to give the patient a realistic idea of outcomes. For example, while the vast majority of patients will achieve 20/20 vision, some may take a day or two to get there, and some with higher prescriptions may be limited to 20/32.
But it’s not just deceiving communication you need to look out for. When visiting the 6 clinics that quoted the lowest prices, the researchers found 4 to be of ‘poor’ quality, treating patients less like individuals and more like potential sales.
Laser Eye Surgery is one of the safest elective procedures in the world. But when initial consultations are rushed, surgeons have heavy quotas to meet, and clinics use outdated technology, problems will inevitably arise. This is the cost of cut-price Laser Eye Surgery. To ensure safe and effective Laser Eye Surgery, patients should expect to pay at least £4000.
Many eye doctors have long been lobbying to bring in tighter regulations and greater protection for patients. But until this time comes, it’s up to patients to research with due diligence and choose a clinic they can trust. Luckily, with the exposure of shoddy practice and independent review sites like Trustpilot, this is easier to do than ever before.