Laser Eye Surgery

The Three Main Types of Laser Eye Surgery

There are a number of different forms of laser eye surgery available in the UK. The most popular is LASIK, which accounts for 90% of all procedures, then LASEK, and lastly PRK. Each type of surgery has its own advantages and disadvantages and some are more suited to certain types of patients than others.

LASIK

LASIK can be used by ophthalmic surgeons to treat farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. The process works by using a femtosecond laser to create a thin cut in the cornea. The corneal flap is then lifted and some corneal tissue is removed creating a flatter, steeper or smoother cornea as desired.

Of the three main types of surgery, LASIK makes the deepest cuts into the base tissue and tends to have the most effective results. It also has the fastest healing time of all the three procedures at around two to three days. The surgery itself takes around fifteen minutes per eye but there will be some preliminary eye examinations by the surgeon to map your cornea and check the moistness of your eyes.

LASEK

LASEK treats the same conditions as LASIK but the procedure is performed in a different manner. During this operation, the surgeon lifts the thin epithelial layer from the eye prior to carrying out reshaping work. The epithelium is then replaced onto the eye.

LASEK was developed in response to complications that occurred when the flap created during LASIK was not of the right diameter or thickness. For this reason, LASEK is most commonly used for people who have corneas that are too steep or thin for LASIK. The process takes around fifteen minutes per eye and the healing time is longer and comparatively more uncomfortable than with LASIK.

For patients to recover good vision following LASEK treatment, it tends to take between four and seven days. However, you can return home immediately after the operation providing you do not drive, so be sure to have transport arranged beforehand.



PRK

PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy and can be used to treat myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. PRK was the first sort of laser eye surgery to be developed and although LASIK has now overtaken it in terms of popularity, it still retains certain advantages for a number of patients.

The surgical process used for PRK is similar to LASEK in that no corneal flap is created. However, the entire epithelial layer is removed (as opposed to just being lifted) and will grow back after surgery. The surgery itself takes about fifteen minutes to complete and you will generally be awake during the procedure, although the surgeon is likely to give you a sedative to help you relax.

PRK is suitable for people with thin corneas and those who have previously had LASIK. There is no risk of corneal flap complications and there is a reduced risk of the compromising of corneal thickness. However, recovery time is longer compared to LASIK and optimum vision takes longer for the patient to obtain. There is also a higher risk of post surgery infections and the recovery period is more uncomfortable.

Success Rates

The success rates for both LASIK and PRK are very similar, with the vast majority of patients achieving 20/20 vision after the surgery and nearly everyone achieving 20/40 vision. LASEK also has a very high success rate with between 90-95% of patients achieving excellent vision after the procedure. For patients who have very severe cases of poor eyesight, glasses may still need to be worn on occasion, but this will typically be only for certain tasks and at a much lower prescription.

Costs of Laser Eye Surgery

The cost of any eye surgery will depend on the severity of your prescription, the clinic you choose and the procedure you opt for. Many clinics advertise rates as low as £395 per eye, but this offer is generally only available to people who have the very mildest prescriptions. A more realistic figure is around the £1,000 to £1,500 mark to treat each eye, though some clinics may offer you a discount if you get both eyes treated at the same time. If you are looking to include some of the latest eye surgery technologies, such as blended vision or Wave Front Laser technology, this can add a further £400 to £600 to the overall price per eye.

Risks of Eye Surgery

Complications following laser eye surgery occur in less than 5% of cases, so medically speaking, all three treatments are considered to be safe. The most common side effects which do occur after surgery include dry eyes (which may require artificial tear supplements) and halo or glare effects when driving at night. This latter complication is more common in those who had a stronger prescription to start with.

Severe reduction in vision is rare following laser eye treatment, but some patients do require corneal surgery or hard contact lenses to re-establish their vision. It must also be remembered that eyesight continues to change throughout our lives as the muscles in the eye weaken, so laser eye surgery provides no guarantee that you will not need glasses at some point in the future.

How to Find a Laser Eye Surgeon

Laser eye surgery is only available on the NHS for the most serious vision problems so you will normally have to go private for the operation. Clinics will generally only treat people who are over the age of 21 and have had a stable prescription for at least two years.

For those who are considering undergoing treatment, the first step would be to speak to your optician who can give you advice about the procedure and recommend good clinics in your local area. Then it is worth contacting a number of clinics to discuss your options. Important questions to ask during your consultation include; what is the clinic's success rate, what level of experience does the surgeon have and can they provide testimonials from previous clients? Further information about laser eye surgery can also be sought from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Wavefront LASIK Laser Eye Surgery

The Principles of the Wavefront LASIK Technique

Offering patients a 99% success rate of achieving standard driving vision, the technology surrounding Wavefront LASIK surgery is tailored precisely to the optics of the individual characteristics of every patient. Recognising that nobody has standard optical requirements, this is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. Eyes are measured for their level of optical performance and their quality of vision, not simply to make a prescription diagnosis.

The Wavefront procedure uses the Nidek Optical Path Difference (OPD) device to measure the progress of 8,000 light waves as they travel across the different areas of the eye. This technology is amongst the most advanced available in the field of refractive laser eye surgery. The light waves are reflected from the eye to the OPD to provide a digital analysis of the variation in the wave path from how it should appear in a patient with perfect sight. The 8,000 data points are then used to programme the laser to correct every area of the corneal surface,correcting each section to its precise focussing power. This makes the operation a particularly good option for patients who suffer from poor night vision or who have abnormally large pupils.

Because the optical performance is assessed at every point of the cornea, including the largest part, the laser can be programmed to deliver the optimum dosage to each miniscule part of the corneal surface, significantly reducing the risk of developing glare and night time 'halos' by increasing the levels of sensitivity within the eye in conditions of low light.

Can Everyone Benefit from the Procedure?

Providers of Wavefront LASIK surgery have strict criteria for eligibility and will insist that patients be a minimum of 18 years of age. (Some will only offer the treatment to those over the age of 21.) Patients will be expected to be in good general health and to be able to demonstrate a stable ocular prescription for the past 12 months. For those with myopia (short sightedness) their prescription should be in the range of 1.00 to 10.00 and for those with hyperopia (long sightedness) between +1.00 to +4.00.

The procedure may be refused to any patients who have any of the following:

  • Currently pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Current or previous sufferers of the Herpes Simplex corneal virus.
  • Is taking any medication which may impair their healing process; it is highly advisable to seek the advice of your GP prior to considering Wavefront LASIK.
  • Has any ocular abnormality such as Keratoconus in one or both eyes.
  • Sufferers of a severe dry-eye condition.
  • Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or any immune deficiency disease (HIV).
  • Those who have worn soft contact lenses in the past 7 days, hard or gas-permeated lenses in the past 4 weeks or conventional contact lenses in the past 6 weeks.

What Does the Procedure Entail?

The Wavefront LASIK procedure is quick and virtually painless, taking an average of only 10 minutes for each eye. The surgeon will use a precision surgical device to make a small flap in the corneal surface which will then be moved aside to allow the computer guided Excimer laser to target the cornea, reshaping by means of precise tissue removal. When the correction has been applied, the flap is repositioned. Many providers will now use a Femtosecond laser to make the initial flap incision as this will provide optimum accuracy and will be safer and more comfortable for the patient. This procedure is referred to as Intra-LASIK.



The recovery time will be dependent on the individual's job, but for office or shop work patients will be able to return to work the day following the procedure; normal activities and sports (excluding swimming or contact sports) may be resumed within 1 week. For those with a job involving air travel, it will be perfectly safe to fly within a few days of treatment; all other activities can be undertaken after 1 month.

Can I Expect Any Complications?

Although the procedure is considered to be extremely safe, there are inevitably some occurrences of complications which may affect some patients. One of the most widely experienced is that of dry eyes for the first few months after the surgery. This is due to the nerves which are used to stimulate the blink rate and tear production at the front of the eye needing time to regrow and heal. Your surgeon will prescribe artificial tear drops for use during the recovery period which will minimise any discomfort.

A frequent complication for many who had undergone the LASIK procedure was that of glare and 'halos' around their vision when driving at night. Since the implementation of the Wavefront technique, this problem has virtually disappeared, but for those who may still experience the effects, it should dissipate within 1 year of the procedure.

On very rare occasions, a patient may experience Keratectasia or thinning of the eye wall. Any risk of developing this complication will be significantly reduced by the intensive screening process for pre-existing abnormalities of the cornea prior to surgery.

How Much Will it Cost?

As with any type of elective surgery, it is vital that the individual thoroughly researches the options before undergoing any treatment. Providers vary from the High Street outlets who offer a readily available, speedy service with options of finance packages and special offers, to specialised private eye clinics who will provide a high level of facilities and surgeon expertise but for much higher fees.

In addition to using the internet as a source of information, it is also a good idea to visit any prospective provider. You can find out an awful lot about their services by just looking around their premises. Is it clean? Are the staff friendly and professional? Can they provide you with statistics of past success and complication rates?

To investigate the veracity of individual surgeons contact the Royal College of Ophthalmologists to see if they are registered with them and their level of experience and expertise.

Leading High Street surgeries quote prices for the Wavefront LASIK procedure starting from £795 - £1,885 per eye. For the services of a leading eye hospital, one should expect to pay from £1,200 for Uni-LASIK or £2,250 for Bi-LASIK. In addition to these costs, there will also be consultation fees from £120 and hospital fees from £870 - £1,740.

Boots Laser Eye Surgery

A Failure In Spite of Success

Boots is by some margin the largest chain of chemists in the UK. It was founded over a hundred and fifty years ago in Nottingham and now a branch of Boots can be found on most High Streets across the country. In recent decades, Boots has expanded into a number of other healthcare markets. One of the most well known is Boots Opticians. Its first laser eye surgery centre opened in 2001 and, over the next two years, eight more were added. At the time, Boots were treating over ten thousand people per year with laser eye surgery. However, in 2004, the business reviewed its operations and decided that this subsidiary business was not performing to the level that had been expected. At this point, the decision was made to close all nine centres and these remain closed to this day, with Boots Opticians now focusing solely on the core areas of eye tests and prescriptions. However, there are a number of alternative laser eye surgery providers available across the UK.

Laser Eye Surgery Providers in the UK

The providers of laser eye surgery in the UK range from large optical chains to smaller local providers. One of the largest chains offering laser eye surgery is Ultralase. This company began trading in 2002 and now has over thirty clinics operating in the UK and Ireland. All their surgeons are certified by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Ultralase have treated over one hundred thousand people in their clinics.



Another popular chain is Optimax, an experienced provider who have treated over three hundred thousand patients at their twenty four centres nationwide. Due to their large customer base, Optimax claim they are able to offer the lowest price for surgery out of any UK provider.

Optical Express are, of course, another High Street provider synonymous with laser eye treatment. Yet, despite having a large number of opticians across the country, only some of their sites offer surgery. Optical Express do, however, use all the latest technology including Wave Front guided lasers.

Types of Laser Eye Surgery

When you first start investigating laser eye surgery, you will hear people discussing a number of different options including LASIK, LASEK and PRK. Each method has its own pros and cons and different methods will be suited to people mainly according to their individual prescription.

LASIK is the most invasive of all the three procedures as it makes the deepest cut into the cornea. However, this can also help the surgeon achieve excellent results due to the fact that this deeper tissue does not grow back. LASIK also has the quickest recovery time as the surface of the cornea is left undamaged by the procedure, and as a result, LASIK is the procedure chosen by around 90% of patients.

LASEK surgery differs from LASIK in that a much thinner cut is made in the cornea, thus removing only its outer cells. The second most popular choice of treatment, LASEK is generally used on patients with irregularly shaped corneas.

Finally, there is PRK, the third most common surgical alternative. A precursor to LASIK, it is popular with patients with thin corneas as it only removes around ten percent of corneal tissue. However, this method does have a much longer and more uncomfortable healing period than LASIK despite seeming less invasive.

Costs of Laser Eye Surgery in the UK

The price you pay for your laser eye surgery will depend on you specific prescription, the experience of the surgeon and the clinic you choose. The initial consultation to discuss your surgery will typically cost anywhere up to £175. However, most clinics deduct this fee from the cost of surgery should you decide to proceed and many offer free consultations too.

For a standard LASIK operation, the costs can range from £395 to £1,500 per eye. Advertisements stating 'from £395 per eye' are common, but do be aware that very few patients will pay this lower price as it will only apply to the very mildest prescriptions. A more realistic figure for most would be closer to the £1,000 mark, though some clinics will offer you a discount if you decide to have two eyes done at the same time. The price for LASEK and PRK will be similar.

If you decide to opt for a premium service by using Wave Front Lasers or Intralase, this will increase the price by a further three to four hundred pounds per eye. If you choose to have laser blended vision to correct presbyopia, then the cost for the procedure will somewhere in the region of £2,500 per eye. But, whatever the general cost involved, do remember that when obtaining quotes from different companies to compare like for like. Check exactly what they include in the price to ensure you obtain the best deal.

LASIK vs LASEK Laser Eye Surgery

The Surgical Alternative to Glasses

With as many as six in ten adults in the UK now having to rely on glasses and the number of contact lens wearers also on the increase, it's hardly surprising to note that when it comes to vision correction, laser surgery is fast becoming an extremely popular option. After all, who wouldn't like the thought of being able to dispense with their glasses for good, or no longer have to cope with the general impracticalities which surround the wearing of contact lenses? But as we all know, there's no such thing as a miracle cure and this, combined with the phrase 'no pain, no gain', is often enough to put people off completely. So, as popular as laser eye surgery is, there will doubtlessly still be hundreds of thousands of people out there who could benefit from this procedure but are simply too hesitant or afraid to even begin to look into what's involved. For instance, many may be unaware that there are actually two main laser eye surgeries: LASIK which stands for Laser-Assisted-In-Situ-Keratomileusis and LASEK which stands for Laser-Assisted-Epithelial-Keratomileusis. Both LASEK and LASIK correct the same types of vision problems and which is best depends entirely on the individual patient's needs.

Tests to Assess Suitability

Before undergoing either procedure, different tests are necessary to determine whether the patient is suitable for LASIK, LASEK (or indeed either). Some of these tests check how dilated the pupils are in the dark. This test is known as pupillometry. The strength of the patient's current glasses are also checked and this test is known as focimetry. The way light passes through the eye (known as autorefraction) will be checked too. Other tests are available and all will take place at the laser eye consultation.

Factors which Determine Suitability

A number of factors influence which type of laser eye surgery the patient may be eligible for. These include eye health, general health, whether or not the patient is immuno-compromised and whether they have a thick or thin cornea. (The cornea is the clear surface covering the front of the pupil).

What Vision Problems can be Corrected

LASIK surgery can correct vision problems such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) or astigmatism which is an uneven shaped cornea with one part of the cornea being more steeper than the other. LASEK surgery corrects the same vision problems as LASIK. The differences arise in the way these two are performed.

LASIK Surgery

With LASIK, anaesthetic drops are applied to the eye prior to surgery. A special frame is then constructed over the eye to prevent it from blinking. A flap is created by the surgeon using a microkeratome and this is gently lifted so that it reveals the inside of the cornea known as the inner corneal tissue. This is then reshaped using a computer-controlled laser light also called an excimer laser. The way this laser is applied depends on which type of vision problem needs corrected and reshaping the cornea takes a matter of seconds. After cornea reshaping, vision correction is complete. Soon after, the surgeon replaces the flap back to its original position. Stitching is not required as the eye heals naturally on its own. An anti-bacterial agent may be applied to the eye in the form of special eye drops to protect it from infection. An eye bandage may also be applied over the eye for much the same reason and to allow for comfort.

LASEK Surgery

With LASEK, preparation for surgery is the same, but the surgery differs in that the outer layer of the surface of the cornea is adjusted. The surgeon moves the outer layer using a special instrument and it is then reshaped using computer controlled pulses of laser light. The way in which it is reshaped again depends on the type of vision correction required, i.e. myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism. Following the procedure, the surgeon replaces the surface layer back to its original position. A bandage contact lens (which is a soft contact lens) is applied directly onto the eye to prevent discomfort. A bandage is applied over the eye also to prevent infection.

Myopia, Astigmatism and Hyperopia - What's Involved?

Myopia

Myopia results from having a cornea which is too curved or perhaps an eyeball which is too long. This makes the light focus more in front of the retina rather than directly at it. To fix this problem, more corneal tissue is removed from the centre than the edge. Many people return to work within 48 hours of surgery as this process has a quick recovery time.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism results from the cornea being unevenly shaped which would eventually lead to blurred images due to light not being focused on the retina as it should. Laser eye surgery corrects astigmatism by removing more corneal tissue from the steepest part to make sure it is curved in shape. This prevents light scattering in different directions.

Hyperopia

Hyperopia results when the cornea is too flat. Light is focused behind the retina rather than on it. Laser eye surgery corrects the cornea by making it more curved by removing tissue from the edge as opposed to the centre.

Recovery Process

The healing process is much swifter in patients who have undertaken LASIK laser eye surgery which is why it is found to be more popular than LASEK. However, for both these procedures, after care is the same. Showers should be avoided during this time and care should be taken while washing one's hair. Eye make-up should not be worn.

Risks

As with all other types of surgeries, there are risks involved. Risks associated with laser eye surgery include possible scarring of the cornea, a worsening of vision (if accidental damage occurs) and on very rare occasions stitching may be required.

Costs and Other Considerations

Some companies offer laser eye surgery for costs of around £395 a month, but the price you pay will ultimately depend on the strength of your prescription and other variables. To compare clinics, comparison websites can prove useful, but talking to your GP or optician could help influence a better, more informed decision. A specialist refractive optometrist will normally guide a patient into the type of laser eye surgery deemed most appropriate for them.

Private Cataract Surgery

Cataracts and the NHS

When a cataract forms on the eye, the lens becomes cloudy impairing vision. The disease is very common, especially amongst older people, and is seen as part of the normal ageing process. Indeed, over 60% of us get at least one cataract once we have passed the age of 60. Due to the high number of cataract cases, the NHS waiting list for treatment is around 3 months. If a patient has cataracts in both eyes, he or she must then wait a further 3 months before having their second eye operated on. The way the NHS system works also means that there is no guarantee that a patient will get the same surgeon for both operations. For these reasons alone, it's hardly any wonder so many cataract sufferers look toward private clinics for treatment. But what does the operation involve? How long does it take to recover and what are the associated costs for those who wish to go private?

Who Can Have the Surgery?

Candidates for cataract surgery are usually those whose vision is starting to become impaired by the disease. The first person to notice the problem is normally the patient although doctors can also detect a cataract forming. The surgery is relatively straightforward, so most sufferers are suitable candidates for surgery. However, if the patient has a separate eye condition, this may need to be treated first. There may also be an underlying condition which has caused the cataract in the first place and this may also have to be dealt with initially. There is no upper age limit for the surgery.

The Operation

The operation to remove a cataract is relatively simple and only takes around 30 minutes. The most common form of cataract removal is called phacoemulsification. The patient is given an injection of anaesthetic near the eye or sometimes anaesthetic eye drops are used. The surgeon then makes a very small cut in the surface of the eye close to the cornea. A tiny ultrasound probe is entered into this cut which emits vibrations to break up the cataract. The fragments are then suctioned out by the probe. Finally, an artificial lens is placed in the space where the cataract was. No stitches are required.

Recovery

The recovery process is remarkably quick and patients are usually discharged within 2 hours of their procedure. Patients' eyes will work straight after the operation although vision may still be blurred for a few days. It is advisable not to drive for at least 72 hours, though patients should be able to return to work after 2 days. Patients should avoid swimming for up to a month after surgery.

Why Choose a Private Clinic?

Many cataract sufferers choose to go private simply in order to be treated more quickly. Indeed, when cataracts are present in both eyes, a patient need only wait a week between private surgeries, compared to three months on the NHS. Patients can choose their own surgeon and the doctor who sees them at their first consultation also carries out the procedure. Patients normally have to be referred to a private clinic by their GP or optometrist.

How Much Does the Surgery Cost?

The cost of a cataract operation varies from clinic to clinic and can depend on the area in which you live. However, prices tend to range from £1,700 to £3,250. Discounts are sometimes offered when the patient has a cataract in both eyes.

How Do I Decide Which Private Clinic to Use?

A quick internet search will list hundreds of private clinics offering cataract surgeries - and yes, it can be difficult to know which ones to trust. As this is often the case, the first port of call should ideally be your own GP who may be able to recommend a clinic to you. Alternatively, if you have private medical insurance, you provider will be able to offer you a few choices. It is also a good idea to ask around to discover if anyone else has had this surgery done privately and what they thought of the clinic and the procedure. After all, cataracts are so common it should not be too difficult to find someone with the relevant experience. Once you have found a clinic, research it online or, if possible, visit it in person to ensure you feel comfortable with the people and surroundings.

Finding Cheap Laser Eye Surgery

How to Find the Best Places for Cheap Laser Eye Surgery

Many people are unable to have laser eye surgery because of a lack of funds, even though there is a good chance of their vision being greatly improved by treatment. There are a number of ways of obtaining information which will help you to find the laser surgery required at a cheaper price without having to compromise on the value and care you receive, but it is vital to carry out plenty of research. It is also a good idea to check the prices of companies that offer a countrywide service using a network of local clinics as well as individual clinics.

How Do I Know if I am Getting the Right Treatment from the Best Clinic?

Before making a final decision on where to have the procedure carried out, it is advisable to carry out background checks on the doctor who will carry out the surgery and also on the clinic itself. Asking for recommendations from previous patients is a good way to tell if you will get the best treatment. Remember, choosing the cheapest option may not get you the best surgery from the most reputable clinic.

How Can I Compare Surgery Costs?

It is possible to use a comparison website online to find out what laser surgery treatments are available and to obtain an average cost for each. Many of these sites will also give details of the surgeries available together with advice on what can realistically be expected from each. Telephoning clinics is a good way of obtaining information about the procedures offered as well as obtaining a quote. Any questions you may have can also be dealt with at that time. Costs for this type of surgery are affected by many factors including the experience of the surgeon, the reputation of the clinic and the surgery required; surgery costs are generally higher for those with higher glasses prescriptions. It is normal for a clinic to provide a consultation with the surgeon before the surgery is carried out and to take a deposit at that time. The deposit is then taken from the final cost once treatment is complete.

How Much Does Laser Eye Surgery Cost?

As with any surgical procedure, there is no guarantee of a one hundred per cent success rate, but on average standard laser eye surgery costs from approximately £395 per eye. This can increase to a minimum of approximately £1,500 per eye if you require modified LASIK surgery. Other treatments such as photo refractive Keratectomy or Laser Thermal Keratoplasty range from approximately £700 to £1,000 per eye. These prices will usually include a free consultation after the surgery has been completed although this can vary from clinic to clinic and should therefore be fully clarified before going ahead with surgery. Many clinics can help arrange interest free credit for surgery while others offer the option of flexible payments.

Can I Get Cheaper Treatment Abroad?

Laser eye surgery is often cheaper to undergo abroad, but this will depend on the country you choose to have your treatment carried out in. Many Eastern European countries including Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania can offer savings of anywhere between fifteen and fifty per cent on the costs charged in the United Kingdom, while South America and Asia offer savings of approximately twenty per cent. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Dubai often prove more expensive. As well as the advantage of obtaining cheaper eye surgery, some people like include a holiday in their plans so that they can recuperate in the sun. There are also some disadvantages of choosing foreign treatment which include the possibility of a less experienced surgeon carrying out your procedure and more risk of possible complications with the surgery. It is therefore most important before booking your surgery to check whether you can get a free consultation and to compare online reviews with laser eye surgery providers in the UK. Another important consideration is the aftercare you will receive if you decide on overseas treatment. Any aftercare in a foreign country will only be available until your holiday ends while aftercare in the UK is ongoing."

Lens Replacement Surgery

What is Lens Replacement Surgery?

Lens replacement surgery is a common surgical procedure. It is carried out thousands of times every year and improves people's vision by using an artificial lens to replace the natural lens of the eye. This treatment is often performed as an alternative to laser surgery on people who suffer with extreme near or far sightedness. This type of surgery is also known as clear lens extraction (or exchange) or refractive lens replacement (or exchange) and is based on the surgery that is carried out for the removal of cataracts. It does differ slightly, however, in that the natural lens being replaced is not cloudy as it would be in cataract surgery. It also removes the need for future cataract surgery to be undergone as it is impossible for an artificial lens to become cloudy.

What does the Surgery Involve?

This type of surgery is usually carried out on one eye at a time. It is also classed as an outpatient treatment because there is normally no need to remain in the clinic for more than a couple of hours. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic using eye drops and, if necessary, a mild sedative in order that the patient feels relaxed. A very small cut is then made next to the cornea to allow a small probe to dissolve the lens by means of ultrasound. Any fragments of lens are then sucked gently away to allow the artificial lens to be inserted. There is no need for stitches as the cut will heal itself. The complete procedure for each eye can be carried out within approximately thirty minutes and there is no need for eye protection to be worn during the recovery time.

What are the Different Types of Lens Replacement?

There are a number of different replacement surgeries available and these differ depending on the age of the patient and what type of vision problem they suffer from. For example, a fixed focus implant is most suited to patients over the age of forty as the patient will still be required to wear reading glasses afterwards. There is also surgery which keeps the natural lens, with the artificial one acting like a contact lens inside the eye. This is known as an ICL.

Who is a Suitable Candidate for Lens Replacement?

Older patients who are presbyopic, meaning they have lost some of the elasticity of the natural lens and are therefore unable to obtain a sharp focus on nearby objects, can have their distance and near vision improved by having a replacement multi-focal lens fitted during surgery. This procedure is called a Presbyopic Lens Exchange or PRELEX. This type of procedure can often remove the need to wear corrective glasses completely. Anyone who has small pupils or those who drive a lot at night would not be suitable for PRELEX as there is a possibility of it leading to halos which can obscure vision. ICL surgery is often suggested for young to middle aged patients whose own lenses are flexible enough to undergo implantation. Replacement lens surgery can provide an alternative choice for people who unable to undergo laser eye surgery due to having thin corneas.

How Much Does this Type of Procedure Cost and Are There Any Associated Risks?

On average, the cost of replacement lens surgery can vary from approximately £500 up to £4,000 per eye. The charge will vary depending on which type of surgery is chosen and how much correction is needed. The price of surgery can also fluctuate between clinics so it is extremely important to take into account the amount of experience the eye surgeon has (as well as their reputation) by obtaining references from previous patients. Internet forums often prove a good source, or if in doubt, advice can be sought from one's own GP or optician.

As with any medical procedure, there are some risks and one of these is the small chance of you contracting an infection, so prior to undergoing surgery it is always best to speak to an optometrist to help decide whether this treatment is, in fact, the best option and what results you can expect from it. However, one of the main benefits from undergoing Refractive Lens Surgery is that the surgery can be fully reversed if necessary and patients often see this as justification for the higher charges made.

How Long will it Take to Recover from Surgery?

The recovery time needed after this type of surgery is normally short, with usual activities being resumed later the same day or some twenty four hours later (although this will depend on the type of procedure you have undergone). It is possible to return to work within several days although the surgeon will need to check how your recovery progresses and therefore you will need to attend several follow up appointments, the first of which will be within the first couple of days after your surgery and another several weeks later. During the recovery period, you will need to use eye drops which will help protect your eyes from any inflammation or infection. It is important to follow the instructions given to you by the surgeon for the first few weeks after the surgery, and advice will include not bending or lifting heavy items. Vision should improve within the first couple of days and continue to do so over future weeks. Studies of this type of surgery suggest that at least ninety per cent of patients do not require glasses afterwards.