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Which? reveals best and worst laser eye surgery companies

We've surveyed nearly 1,000 laser eye surgery patients so you can avoid the potential pitfalls and find out which clinics are the best

Which? reveals best and worst laser eye surgery companies

A Which? survey of 958 people who have had laser eye surgery has revealed that 11% said their vision was worse than expected after surgery.

And 15% of all respondents who had the surgery in the past five years said that they weren’t well-informed that this deterioration in eyesight could happen.

So it’s vital you’re sure that the clinic you choose is going to be crystal clear about the risks to you and your eyes rather than confusing you with sales patter.

We’ve surveyed patients of clinics including Advanced Vision Care, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Optical Express, Optimax and Ultralase.

You can use our laser eye surgery company reviews to make sure you choose the right clinic for your needs. Keep reading to find out more about what our research revealed, including our six expert tips to help you find the right clinic.

You can jump straight to our laser eye surgery company reviews to discover our results

Best vs worst laser eye surgery companies

Our survey is unique in capturing the real-life experiences of people who have had this procedure. We asked them about what happened to them – including sales practice, time with the surgeon before surgery, after-care service and value for money.

As well as providing you with star ratings, so you can see how the patients of the laser eye surgery companies reported their experiences, we also crunch the data to provide you with an overall rating. This allows you to easily compare the companies at a glance.

Our survey reveals which company got the top 78% customer score – we also found two big-name companies both scored a less impressive 69%. They also both received a mediocre three stars out of five for various measures. This included sales practice, pricing transparency and after-care.

Six tips when choosing your laser eye surgery company

1. Compare laser eye surgery costs

Prices are advertised for as little as £595 to as much as £2,600 per eye, but there are likely to be differences in what you’re offered. Plus, you’ll need to scrutinise what exactly you’ll be getting.

You’ll pay more if you choose Lasik with Wavefront (personalised eye-mapping technology, sometimes called iDesign, High Profile or Intralase). Lasik is the most popular laser-eye procedure.

For some clinics, such as Optical Express – what you pay for laser eye surgery will depend on your prescription. Whereas for others, the price is fixed.

Use our guide to laser eye surgery costs to find out what you’re likely to pay and whether you’ll be entitled to money back if you change your mind before surgery.

2. Is laser eye surgery suitable for everyone?

There are some things you won’t know until you’re tested – such as whether your corneas are thick enough for laser surgery. But some basics you will.

For example, in order to be suitable for laser eye surgery (the most common types are Lasik and Lasek), you have to be 18 years old or older with a prescription that hasn’t changed by 0.5 units or dioptres in the past two years.

There are also lots of factors that are likely to make high street clinics more cautious, such as existing medical dry eyes and if you’re over 50 or have early cataracts.

See our guide to laser eye surgery companies to find out more about Lasik, Lasek and the newer ReLEx Smile, and which will suit you best.

If laser surgery isn’t an option for you, there are other alternatives – such as having the lens of your eyes replaced. This is a very similar procedure to cataract surgery.

It’s often suggested for older people or those with early cataracts. But it’s a more expensive and invasive procedure than laser eye surgery.

An option used for people with certain conditions, such as medical dry eye and keratoconus, or younger people whose prescription is too high for laser eye surgery and who can’t tolerate contact lenses, is implantable contact lenses.

These are inserted just in front of your eye’s natural lens to change its prescription.

3. Beware the hard sell

Some 26% of the people surveyed said that they had felt under pressure to sign up, but it’s not only the hard sell that equals poor sales practice.

We’ve mystery shopped laser eye surgery clinics twice in the past, and have put our findings together with expert know-how to let you know the sales tricks and weasel words to look out for.

If a company guarantees you better or 20/20 vision, or says that you won’t need glasses, be cautious.

In our survey, 11% of patients were not well-informed about the fact that they could experience new eyesight problems.

A very small proportion of people don’t see as well as they did with glasses before surgery. In about 1 in 200 eyes, this can’t be corrected with specs because the eye’s optical quality has been reduced.

Most people need reading glasses when they reach 45-50 years old, regardless of whether they’ve had laser eye surgery. You should be warned of this before you sign on the dotted line.

Also, look out for downplaying of risks and sales staff avoiding terms such as ‘surgery’, ‘cut’ and ‘blade’ that are accurate, but could put you off signing up.

Prefer to stick to wearing glasses or contacts? See the best places to have an eye test.

4. Research the risks

Laser eye surgery and replacement surgery are generally very safe and the majority of people will do well, with problems likely to be short term.

However, some people do experience longer-term and more serious problems, and it’s important that the risks are explained to you. Especially for your prescription, as risks are likely to be higher if you have more complex eyes or a very high prescription.

5. See your surgeon

The General Medical Council (GMC) recommends that you see the surgeon who will personally perform your surgery before you have it, but it’s up to the individual clinic if they offer this or charge extra for it.

Prepare your questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for details of their training, qualifications, length of practice and results, specifically on eyes like yours.

In general, the more operations a surgeon has carried out, the higher the success rate.

6. Check the terms and conditions

Ask about the cooling-off period after signing up (the GMC recommends a minimum of a week after seeing your surgeon), your right to cancel if you change your mind and whether you need to pay in full in advance of your surgery.

You should also ask whether you can have a refund if your surgeon changes the procedure you need after examining you.

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