Laser surgery cooling off period

We’ve all seen the adverts promising a world free from glasses or contact lenses and it’s tempting to take the plunge. 

But if you sign up for surgery and change your mind, do you have the right to cancel?

If you're signing up to surgery while on the provider’s premises, there's no standard cooling off period that providers are legally obliged to offer you.

However, many will offer a short period of time during which you may change your mind and receive a full refund.

Details of any cooling off period will be set out in the provider’s terms and conditions. If you’re unsure, make sure you ask before signing the contract.

Laser surgery payments

If you pay a deposit at the time of signing the contract and you cancel within the provider’s cooling off period, you’re entitled to get your money back.

Once the cooling off period has ended though, you’re unlikely to be entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind.

Sometimes you will be asked for full payment in advance of your surgery but Which? doesn't think this should be happening, especially before you’ve had a consultation with a surgeon. 

We would advise that you to think carefully before proceeding if you’re asked to pay for surgery in advance. 

Read the Which? guide to questions you should ask before you sign up for laser eye surgery.

Top tips

  • Read the contract terms and conditions carefully before signing
  • Check that your provider offers a cooling off period before signing up
  • Don't be tempted to pay the full amount for surgery in advance
  • You can get a refund if the procedure or the risks change

Changes to your planned surgery

If the surgery you’ve signed up to changes, you should be entitled to a full refund of any amount you've paid, even if the cooling off period has ended.

Prior to the surgery, you will have a consultation with your surgeon to confirm everything is as it should be.

Sometimes the surgeon will identify new or increased risks with the surgery or may suggest that a different procedure is more suitable.

If you’re concerned by the changes and do not wish to proceed, the provider should allow you to change your mind and receive a full refund.

You certainly shouldn't feel pressured to carry on if you don’t want to, even if this is all happening on the day the surgery is due to take place.

If this does happen, you can share your experience on our Which? Conversation blog. 

Which? laser surgery investigation

In a recent Which? investigation into laser eye clinics, Which? members rated companies from which they had received laser eye surgery.

The companies that were rated included leading chains such as Optical Express and Optimax as well as independent providers, small chains and hospitals such as Moorfields Eye Hospital. 

Customer ratings ranged from 65% to 91%. Read the results of our investigation to find out the best and worst laser eye surgery companies.

We also sent mystery shoppers into eighteen laser eye surgery clinics to test the quality of information and advice given to customers. 

We found that a third of the visits were rated poor by our panel of experts, which included a laser eye consultant surgeon.

Optical Express advance payment

Following the Which? investigation, consumers told us that Optical Express had been asking its customers to pay the full cost of their surgery in advance.

Customers said they were told the payment was non-refundable even if it emerged that surgery carried high risks for the individual.

Customers were also told that their deposits were non-refundable even in circumstances where the customer was given new information about the risks of surgery to them specifically.

We felt these practices were unfair and potentially in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and/ or the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.

We therefore wrote to Optical Express to express our concerns. The company disagreed it was acting in breach of any of the regulations. 

It confirmed that their customers could receive a full refund if they decided not to proceed with surgery following discussion with the surgeon.

If you've been told your cannot receive a refund despite changes being made to your surgery, read our guide to how to get your money back.

Laser eye surgery risks

If you’re considering eye surgery, your clinic should be upfront about explaining potential risks. Laser eye surgery is not suitable for everyone. 

For instance, people who suffer from conditions such as  severe ‘dry eye’ or who have particularly large pupils may be at risk of increased complications following surgery.

Likewise, if you already have a very high prescription or have type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, laser eye surgery may not be suitable for you.

As everyone is different, it’s best to talk to a laser eye surgeon about the potential risks for you as these will vary depending on the individual.

Read the Which? guide to some of the main risks of laser eye surgery before deciding whether this is the right option for you. 

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