/ Health

Laser eye surgery: what do you see?

Laser eye

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?

tomlinbish says:
13 September 2014

I enclose the text below and link from a site I found today. This says it all really about how ‘eyecare professionals’ are quite happy to perform what is very risky surgery on people, but won’t contemplate having these type of ops themselves.

“A final consideration”.

“We can not offer a better reason to re-evaluate a decision to have LASIK surgery than that given by Jayne Weiss, head of laser eye surgery at Wayne State University in Detroit and the chairwoman of the FDA’s ophthalmic devices panel. During the panel’s April 25, 2008 hearing she was asked why she wears glasses. She explained that she chooses not to have LASIK surgery because she is uncomfortable with the level of risk involved. If she can not manage the risks, can you?”



I decided to find out from Optical,Express about laser surgery for my declining short vision.
I was advised by OE to go with multifocal lens replacement as I have a cataract starting to form in one eye.
Last January 2014 i went to Chelmsford for my surgery, I had my left eye done.
Since then it has not settled. It fluctuates between 80% and 20%, going between fairly good with ghosting, starry halo on lights to very blurry and forget it, I can only see up to maybe 30 feet when it goes bad.
I keep being told get the other done they will then settle or, it must be me settling to them, also it can take up to a year to settle down! One would hope if I only had one eye they’d have said we wouldn’t operate on it!!
So last Monday 9th Sept I had an appointment to see the head surgeon at OE in their London clinic.
Anyway I was shown in to see the surgeon but it’s was not He but another surgeon. No explanation why I didn’t see the head chap. I late found out that the top,chap,had left OE mid August! Why didn’t OE inform me of this ?
Anyway this other surgeon went on to say in quite a forceful way was, why had i waited so long to get my other eye done. These problems I’m having are normal and will right itself once the other eye is done. He explained that the muscles can’t work properly with two different thickness of lens’s, and that I need the other eye done to level them off to work properly. He said I would notice the difference the day after my op.
I’m still not convinced.
Also I had signed a 0% repayment that expired as i went past 6 months so they need me to do a new one!
But I’m now thinking I’d like an outside opinion on my new eyes problems as I don’t feel I’m getting 100% honesty from OE.
Has anyone else had this sort of problem and if so was it fixed ?

Delith mckinnon says:
14 September 2014

They did the same to me and nearly 4 years down the line my eyes are worse than ever despite being assured by them my sight will improve, its been a nightmare and quite depressing, i wear dark glasses constantly due to all the problems and now my driving vision is very bad, they said i had 20 20 vision but my vision was so blurry and distorted i worried about driving my car. I trusted them!

John Blackwood says:
5 April 2016

My experience is similar with Optical express is that they advised me that i would have 20/20 vision i now have 20/30 which is worse than it was, they have had me going back and forth for 2 years, and had me trying glasses twice, contact lenses, settlement periods, and drops and other assessment appointments, aprox one a month for the 2 years.
And now they agree i should have had corrective surgery because the initial surgery has not done what they set out to give me, and what i had paid for, but now i am out of time for them to do it unless i pay again, even though i had explained and they agreed from early on that it has not worked, and i got independent consultations on my sight, O.E. say now i am out of time to get corrective surgery and i must now pay, Disgusted am left with 2 cheap pair of glasses and very poor vision, and less two thousand pounds, and no refund either.

tomlinbish says:
16 September 2014

I have not seen this site before today, and this is sadly yet another example of how these laser/refractive eye surgery procedures can utterly ruin peoples eyes and lives. I hope by posting this link that any people who are in any way contemplating having any sort of non essential refractive eye surgery will avoid the very real possibility of ending up like this. Yes, this is how bad things could get, and many patients end up even worse off than this man, as the comments on this thread indicate.


Debbie says:
16 September 2014

I had laser eye surgery on March 6th 2013,a decision I have regretted every day since! I had been struggling to wear my contact lenses for the last 3 years ( I could tolerate them for only a couple of hours), and decided to investigate whether I was suitable for LASIK. I visited Moorfields Eye Hospital for a consultation in November 2012. Having asked if my eyes were too dry for the procedure, I was told that they were not and that if I had dry eye following the operation there were great eye drops on the market these days! I trusted him to tell me if I was taking a risk and advise me accordingly. He told me I had blepharitis, meibomian gland disease and low tear film which in hindsight should have had alarm bells ringing! He allowed me to think that I was a straightforward case, but what he should have done is warned me that the procedure could make the blepharitis worse and in some cases cause burning and severe dry eye! This has now been added to his consent form, but sadly all too late for me! My eyes were never going to cope with this procedure!
I was given a very comprehensive consent form to read after my consultation but as none of the risks were highlighted in my consultation as being particularly relevant for my eyes, I believed that I was one of the many taking a very small risk – clearly not so! It is only when things go wrong that you realise that complications occur far more frequently than we have been led to believe, particularly since I was already starting with dry eyes, and living with it can at times be almost intolerable! I now have eyes that constantly burn, blurred vision, floaters – that are most distressing, haloes around lights, sensitivity to light, the list is endless! My eyes have been irreparably damaged, and I have to live with the knowledge that I chose to do this!
This industry falls short at the very beginning, patients who are deemed suitable for laser eye surgery but are clearly not, are not given all the facts they need to make an informed decision! Too many surgeons are willing to take a risk with your eyes, even the best of them! But it is not their risk to take, patients must be made fully aware of the risks and they must be discussed with relation to their particular eyes. My life now consists of eye bags, eye massage, omega eye tablets, steroid drops, artificial tears, eye goggles – there is not one second of my day that I do not think about my eyes!
If I can be deemed suitable for LASIK by one of the top surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital yet have such a distressing and painful outcome, then it can happen to anyone! The risks of laser eye surgery are serious and occur frequently! Please do not take the risk with your eyes and understand that going to a hospital based provider with a very good reputation does not guarantee you a successful outcome!


Hi Debbie,

I just wanted to know how your eyes are today.

I had lasek 2 weeks ago at Moorfields with a “top surgeon” and have regretted ever since. I too was deemed a “fit and suitable candidate”. Drops driving me mad. Am so gutted. Daily life currently is a chore. Eyes are the most precious organ and playing with them was the stupidest gamble of my life.



Hi Liza, did Debbie reply to you? My wife also had lasik back in Feb 2015 and is still struggling with dry eye every day, we’ve spend £££ on patches, gels, drops, steroids etc. Like you she was made to feel it was a simple process… She also went to Moorefields… Was it Mr Stevens you saw too? 🙁