Laser eye surgery costs vary depending on what type of treatment you have. You can expect to pay in the region of £500 per eye at least and the price can go up to around £2000 per eye. Your choice of treatment cannot be made solely on laser eye surgery cost; the optimum results that can be obtained depend on your individual eyesight and eye problems. A preliminary consultation allows an eye specialist to assess this and to advise you on the type of laser eye surgery that’s best for you.
This article on laser eye surgery is written by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Many private healthcare providers that offer laser eye surgery carry out this initial assessment free of charge. However, you will probably be asked to pay a deposit against the total laser eye surgery cost either just before, or just after the appointment. This deposit is usually around £30 but it can be £100 per eye for some types of treatment.
What are the different types?
PRK – Photorefractive Keratectomy – is a well-established technique that has been around for nearly 30 years. An ablative laser that uses ultraviolet light is used to reshape the surface of the cornea to help focus light and images coming into the eye directly onto the cornea. This can correct the problems that lead to both long and short-sightedness. PRK tends to have a lower laser eye surgery cost than LASIK surgery, and you can expect to pay between £700 and £1,000 per eye.
LASIK – laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis – involves cutting away a thin flap of tissue from the front of the cornea. The laser is then directed onto the exposed part of the cornea to change its shape before the flap is put back in place. LASIK causes less pain than PRK and has superceded this older technique to a great extent. LASIK laser eye surgery costs between £850 and £1,400 per eye.
Wavefront LASIK – this is a modification of the original LASIK technique in which the surgeon uses a wavefront sensor to guide the laser by computer. This is claimed to improve the results obtained after the treatment and many patients report fewer problems with ‘halos’ and other annoying disturbances of vision. If you opt for wavefront LASIK, laser eye surgery costs are higher than traditional LASIK; typically between £1500 and £1,900 per eye.
LASEK – laser epithelial keratomileusis – although this sounds similar to LASIK, it is actually a variant form of PRK. The laser acts on the surface of the cornea but the very thin outer layer, the epithelium that is normally damaged in PRK is lifted away from the surface first and then put back. This is much thinner than the substantial flap of tissue removed before LASIK. LASEK is usually used in people whose cornea is very thin – the chance of damage is much less than with LASIK and the results are just as good. LASEK laser eye surgery costs tend to be very similar to the LASIK treatment – you can expect to pay between £850 and £1,300 per eye if the treatment is done in the UK.
Epi-LASIK – a technique that is half way between LASIK and LASEK does not use alcohol to loosen the epithelium. Alcohol can cause problems in some people, whose delicate eye tissues react badly to it. The tissue is removed using an oscillating blade – but the flap is not as deep as that cut in LASIK eye surgery. Laser eye surgery costs for Epi-LASIK are in the region of £500 to £900 per eye.
Intralase – this is basically a refined form of LASIK, in which the flap in the cornea is made with a cutting laser, rather than a blade. This makes the cut very precise and easier to control. Healing is much more rapid and the greater accuracy leads to better results afterwards. IntraLase is quite a new technique but it is becoming very popular. This all-laser eye surgery costs between £900 and £1,900 per eye, making it the most expensive technique used in laser eye surgery.
LTK – laser themokeratoplasty – this type of laser eye surgery can be used to correct astigmatism and long sight, but not short sight. The cornea is shrunk by using the laser to create hotspots in a ring, which causes the cornea to draw in and change shape. Done accurately this can change the way the cornea focuses light, so correcting long sightedness. LTK laser eye surgery costs vary widely, but an average is around £1,000 per eye.
PTK – photo therapeutic keractectomy – a laser eye surgery technique used to help reduce corneal scarring and problems with an irregular corneal surface. It does not change the ability to focus, it is purely to remove the scarring to improve vision by reducing distortions caused by the scars. It can be carried out with LTK to improve focusing at the same time, if required. PTK laser eye surgery costs around £900 per eye. Combined PTK and LTK laser eye surgery costs less than having each technique done separately but is likely to be more than £1,000.