You’ll see lots of advertising for laser eye surgery, but what should you know before you decide to go through with it? Our latest undercover investigation finds laser eye clinics failing to clearly explain the risks.
We sent undercover researchers into 18 laser eye clinics across England for their initial consultation and an expert panel rated a third of those visits poor.
Independent clinics, smaller chains and hospital-based providers scored the best, with high street providers coming bottom.
If you’re a Which? member, you can see the best and worst laser eye companies here.
A dim view of laser eye consultations
The most striking problem was the lack of clear verbal information about the risks to the individual: everybody’s eyes are different, and however good the written information you get is, you need to know about any potential issues.
Serious long-term complications are rare but, in extreme cases, patients can have long-term problems, such as severe dry eyes. You could even end up with worse sight, so it’s important you’re aware of this before you commit.
Another problem we identified is a lack of centralised information, such as surgeons’ success rates, to help people make an informed choice. It’s up to the clinics what they reveal to you.
It’s also voluntary for surgeons to undertake the specialist certificate in laser refractive surgery run by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth), and only around half do. In effect, any doctor could carry out these operations, and the clinic decides if they’re competent.
Your views on laser eye surgery
Most people will have a good experience with laser eye surgery and we received many comments along the lines of; ‘I am one happy customer’ and ‘the best thing I ever did’. But we also heard from people who had had ongoing problems, one deeming it an ‘absolute disaster’.
We’re pleased that as a result of last year’s review into cosmetic surgery led by Sir Bruce Keogh, the Royal College of Surgeons will establish committees to review laser eye surgeon professional standards and information for patients. In the meantime we’ve given our findings to the Care Quality Commission.
Have you considered or had laser eye surgery? Did you feel well-informed?