Health And Lifestyle For The Over 50s

What is the Cost of Laser Eye Surgery in the UK and What does it Involve?

cost of laser eye surgery

Laser Eye Surgery is a relatively common operation. It’s estimated that around 120,000 people in the UK have this procedure each year. This makes it one of the most often performed surgical procedures. 

We have created a guide to the cost of laser eye surgery in the UK. This will help you to consider various factors if you decide to pay for private laser eye surgery. We will show you what types of treatment are available, the costs and the clinics in your area, to help you choose the best and safest options for your individual requirements.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery is a common  procedure that has proven to be highly successful in helping to correct vision problems such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism (imperfection in the curvature of the eye). It is sometimes known as refractive surgery or laser vision correction.

This type of surgery uses a beam of light from a laser to make incredibly small and precise corrections, reshaping the transparent cornea at the front of the eye. The surgery is one of the most widely performed procedures in the world and the risks are relatively low but must still be considered.

Cost of Laser Eye Surgery in the UK

The cost of laser eye surgery in the UK ranges from £595 to £3,750 per eye. The precise cost will depend on the clinic, the technology used and the individual prescription of the patient.

Elements which effect the cost include:

Detailed information about prices:

How much does an initial consultation cost?

Most clinics will offer a free consultation. Some may charge a small fee of £50 to £150.

Compare the cost of laser eye surgery

Here is an illustration of the prices charged by a selection of private clinics and details of what is included: 

Laser Eye Surgery Clinics

Clinic NameNumber of ClinicsPrice Range Per EyeFree ConsultationFree Aftercare
Optical Express121£595 - £2,995
Optimax23£1,695 - £2,995
Ultralase20£1,695 - £2,995
Optegra9£1,795 - £2,495x
OCL Vision8£1,975 - £2,750
Centre for Sight3£2,450 - £2,675х
London Vision Clinic1£2,780 - £3,450
Moorfields Eye Hospital 1£2,415 - £2,995x
Focus Clinic1£2,400 - £3,750

How to pay for your eye surgery

Details of Finance Options Available

Clinic NamePrice Range Per EyeDepositInterest Free Period
Optical Express£595 - £2,995£500 10 months
Optimax£1,695 - £2,99510%12 months
Ultralase£1,695 - £2,99510%12 months
Optegra£1,795 - £2,49510%24 months
OCL Vision£1,975 - £2,75010%6, 12 or 24 months
Centre for Sight£2,450 - £2,67520%24 months
London Vision Clinic£2,750 - £3,45010%24 months
Moorfields Eye Hospital £2,415 - £2,9950 6, 9 or 10 months
Focus Clinic£2,400 - £3,75010%12 months

What are the benefits of laser eye surgery?

The main benefit is the correction of blurred vision. You may no longer need to wear glasses or contact lenses. The majority of patients will see an improvement within a few days and the results are usually long lasting.

Some of the benefits include:

What are the different laser eye surgery procedures available in the UK?

Wavefront is a new personalised eye mapping technology which is performed before LASIK surgery to identify irregularities in each individual patient’s eyes. It is also called iDesign, Intralese, Custom or High Profile. It enables the laser to be programmed to your individual specifications and treat more subtle vision irregularities. Some clinics include Wavefront mapping in their price structure, for others it is an optional extra.

Finally, for our older readers, we need to mention refractive lens replacement surgery or refractive lens exchange surgery (RLE) as it is also known. This surgery is often more suitable for patients aged 50 or over and those who have a glasses prescription which is higher than the normal range. It involves replacing the natural lens within the eye with a synthetic implant or intraocular lens: effectively, the procedure is the same as a cataract operation. Indeed, the procedure has the added advantage of stopping you developing a cataract later in life.

Lens replacement surgery or RLE may be a good option if you are unable to have laser eye surgery. The cost is generally between £3,000 and £4,500 per eye.

How much do the different types of laser eye surgery cost?

Range of laser eye surgery prices by treatment type:

Treatment TypePrice FromPrice To
LASEK (Bladeless)£1,495£2,450
LASIK (Bladeless)£1,695£3,050
ReLEx SMILE£2,495£3,250

Can I get laser eye surgery on the NHS?

The circumstances in which laser eye surgery is available on the NHS are rare. You will need to have a serious condition. These include:

Laser eye surgery is not available on the NHS for conditions such as short- or long-sightedness, which can be treated with glasses or contact lenses.

Is Laser Eye Surgery Covered by Health Insurance?

As it’s an elective surgery, it’s unlikely that health insurance will cover the costs.

It should be noted there are a few instances where your insurer might be willing to make an exception. Some of the most common examples are:

 If you have health insurance, contact your own provider to find out their policy with regards covering laser surgery.

How to choose your laser eye surgeon or clinic

You may be surprised to learn that surgeons are not legally required to hold specialist qualifications in ophthalmology to carry out refractive surgery.

So it is vitally important that you choose a surgeon who has the specialist training, qualifications and experience.

Your ophthalmic surgeon should hold a Certificate in Refractive Laser Surgery(CertRLS) or be on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register in Ophthalmology.

Don’t be afraid to ask about these qualifications!

You will be aware of some of the major providers of laser eye surgery as they are a common sight on the High Street but they may not always be your wisest choice.

Take your time to check out the independent clinics in your area as they could prove to be a more suitable option.

Look for recommendations and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions if you are unsure about any stage of the procedure or the qualifications of the surgeon performing the operation.

If you have any doubts, look for another clinic!

Here are some of the things you should be looking for:

It’s often best to contact a few laser eye surgery clinics before you decide where you are going to have your operation performed. Be patient, it might take a while before you find one that suits your needs. It is important to check all laser eye surgery prices and ensure that you are made aware of any potential hidden costs involved.

Don’t feel pressured into making a decision or paying upfront for treatment and find out what the policy is regarding refunds if you change your mind.

What about Laser Eye Surgery Abroad?

You may see advertisements for cheap laser eye surgery abroad but when making a decision based purely on the cost, the factors and considerations above, become far more important. It is more difficult to check the credentials of the laser eye clinics and the qualifications of the  surgeons who are not regulated by the General Medical Council.

cost of laser eye surgery

What will the operation involve?

First, you will be given an anaesthetic, which is usually in the form of eye drops. Then, the ophthalmic surgeon will use lasers to correct issues on the cornea. This should be quick and painless, taking less than ten minutes.

The eye operation will often vary slightly, depending on the type of procedure. But there are a few general steps that the surgeon will follow:

Recovery after Laser Eye Surgery

Initially, you will be given some pain medication and have to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. Any possible side effects will start to fade after a few hours.

You will need to wear eye shields for a day or so. They are designed to stop you from knocking or rubbing your eyes.

After the surgery, you may experience:

Two to three days after the operation you will need to return to the clinic for a check-up.

The ophthalmologist will check your vision, ensuring that your corneal issues have been corrected. You might need a few more check-ups over the next few months, so your progress can be monitored. 

It’s recommended that you return to the clinic for a yearly check-up. Sometimes, adjustments to the cornea can be needed, to allow you to maintain clear vision. 

What are the possible risks and complications?

While risks and complications are very low, occurring in less than five percent of cases.

Possible problems that you should be aware of:

You should discuss any of these possible complications with your surgeon or clinic.

What are the possible side effects of the surgery?

There are also a few common side effects associated with laser eye surgery. These include:

Most of the common symptoms will fade after a few days. If they persist, discuss this with your doctor.


How do I know if laser eye surgery is suitable for me?

  • There are a few conditions that laser eye surgery has been designed to treat:

    • Myopia. This is short-sightedness. Objects that are close to you will be clear, but in the distance, things can become blurry.
    • Hyperopia. This is far-sightedness. In the distance, objects will be clear. In the foreground, they can become blurry.
    •   Astigmatism. This can cause items to become blurry, at both distances.


    A consultation and examination with an ophthalmic surgeon will be required to determine your suitability for this procedure.

Is laser eye surgery a major operation?

Laser eye surgery is relatively common and will be fairly quick. The surgery will only take ten minutes and you should recover from any side effects within a few days.

While every surgery carries some risks, the odds of them occurring are fairly low. You should be able to get on with your life after a few days.

How long will the side effects of the surgery last?

Here is an expected recovery timeline:

  • Within six hours of the surgery. You should expect your vision to start clearing.
  • Within a few days following the surgery. The initial discomfort should start to ease. A quick check-up with your doctor will be able to confirm that your recovery is progressing normally.
  • Within three to six months of the surgery. You should now have fully adjusted to your new vision.  

If you notice the effects of the surgery aren’t fading, you should speak to your doctor. It could be a sign that there has been a complication with the operation.

Are there things I can’t do after laser eye surgery?

In the hours after your eye surgery, you might find that your sight has become blurry and you will struggle to keep your eyes open. Because of this, you should ask a friend to drive you to and from the clinic.

You should refrain from using eye makeup for a week after the procedure.

In the weeks following the surgery, you will need to avoid a few activities. These include:

  • Contact sports. It’s best to avoid contact sports for two to four weeks after the operation.
  • Swimming. You should refrain from swimming for two weeks after your operation.
  • Spending too much time in the sun. You may find that you are more sensitive to light. Often, this can be managed by wearing good quality sunglasses.

Once you have recovered, though, you should be able to return to your normal life.

Is laser eye surgery a painful operation?

You may feel a little discomfort, itchiness or soreness around your eyes. Your eyes may also start to water. But these effects should begin to fade after the first six hours. You will be offered medication to help you deal with these side effects.

Can you wait too long for laser eye surgery?

You should be able to have laser eye surgery at any age.

However,there are a few circumstances in which your surgeon may recommend delaying your surgery. These are:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding – you should wait 3 months after giving birth or 3 months after you stop breastfeeding before seeking surgery.
  • Menopausal – hormonal changes could affect your eyesight
  • Refractive instability – this is when your prescription for glasses or contact lenses has changed in the past year.
  • Compromised immune system – this means you would have a greater risk of illness or infection.

When can I resume driving after laser eye surgery?

In most cases, you will need to wait for one to two days before you start driving again. This gives your eyes some time to heal. It is wise to wear sunglasses for at least a week after the procedure as your eyes are more sensitive to bright light.


The world of eye surgery uses plenty of specialised terms. Here is a quick guide to some of the most important words: