Jun 3, 2013

Why you must read smallprint on laser eye surgery

IF you are tempted to try life-changing laser eye surgery, it is worth checking out the risks first.

A survey by Which? found that six in ten High Street opticians offer unsatisfactory advice and fail to point out the dangers. But it’s hard not to be tempted by cut-price deals offering treatment for as little as £295 per eye.

Here, LYNSEY HAYWOOD speaks to top UK surgeon Professor Dan Reinstein, of the London Vision Clinic, about the procedure.

And five people who have gone through the process reveal how it has changed their lives – for better and worse.

EVERY year more than 100,000 people in the UK undergo a painless procedure that takes about ten minutes and heals in a few hours.

It frees them from the inconveniences of prescription glasses and contact lenses.

The safety, effectiveness and technology of laser eye surgery has improved by leaps and bounds since it started 20 years ago.

It’s natural to be worried but in the right hands it’s extraordinarily safe. I’ve done it on friends and I would do it on my family.

Flying a Boeing 747 is safe, as long as you have a good pilot, and it’s the same with refractive eye surgery.

It’s extremely rare now to have a serious complication from laser eye surgery and it is now possible to correct most problems.

The technology here is better than in the US, where the procedure is much more commercial and there are a lot of people providing cheap specials. But there is still a huge range in the quality of care offered and little help to guide the average person to choose the best option.

One of the most confusing things for a person considering laser eye surgery is that one can find laser eye surgery advertised for anything from £295 “per eye” to more than £3,000. I dislike advertising with “per eye” fees as most humans have two eyes.

The second most confusing thing is that everyone says they are using “the latest technology”.

The third most confusing thing is that everyone claims virtually 100 per cent 20/20 rates on their websites and advertising materials.

Obviously, the best deal would be to have it for £295 using the very best technology with the best surgeon and a 100 per cent guarantee of 20/20 vision.

It is rather cynical to think that the cheaper the laser eye surgery the more appropriate the pricing and that the more expensive providers are just making more profit.

Intricate ... Professor Reinstein says researching eye surgery is key

The bottom line is that, generally speaking, if laser eye surgery costs more it’s because you’re getting better care. But what are the cheaper providers cutting out to make it cheaper?

There is a wide range in quality of care and, unfortunately, the laser eye surgery sector has no regulation to help the public.

Providers claim they are using the latest equipment. But with six laser systems on the market, how can they all be telling the truth?

The Advertising Standards Authority will investigate and curb inappropriate advertising but the process takes so long that misleading advertising can be on the airwaves for months before it is ruled against.

Even when this does happen, the advertiser can just put up another misleading ad that then takes months to rule against and so on.

Practitioners with technology, expertise and comprehensive aftercare to ensure the best possible outcome tend to be those where the fees are higher.

It costs more to have access to the technology, expertise and the consultation time required to assess your eyes before and after surgery to protect your night vision, so that you don’t end up needing reading glasses after surgery when this could have been avoided.

Quality really does vary between surgeons. Some people do it one day a week but you really need to find someone who does it for five.

But you have to do your research. By all means go to the cheapest provider first but don’t undergo surgery without also having a consultation with a provider offering a higher standard and is therefore charging more.

Make the comparisons for yourself. After all, it’s your eyes.

Lisa’s story

'I'd read a lot of horror stories and was terrified' ... Lisa Jenkins

LISA JENKINS, 38, works in online sales and lives with her mother in Swansea. She says:

“I’ve been very short-sighted all my life and from the age of 14 I relied on contact lenses.

Then my eyes started to become irritated by the lenses and I had to start wearing glasses, which I hated.

I researched having laser eye surgery on the internet and decided to go to Optimax in Bristol at £2,000 for both eyes.

I’d read a lot of horror stories on the internet and was terrified something might go wrong and I’d go blind.

I lay down on what looked like a dentist’s chair and had anaesthetic drops put into my eyes. It only took a matter of minutes. I felt no pain at all and the consultant talked me through everything he was doing.

I stayed in a hotel overnight and my eyes were so sensitive I couldn’t put the bedroom light on.

Then a few hours later, to my amazement I could read the credits on the TV screen – the first time I’d been able to see anything without my glasses for years. I’m now thrilled I had it done and can see perfectly.”

Lucy’s story

'After surgery everything was blurry for two months' ... Lucy Schonegevel

LUCY SCHONEGEVEL, 25, from West Norwood, south London, is senior campaigns and policy officer at neonatal charity Bliss. She says:

“I was not told much about the procedure except that my eyes would be open and that I’d have to try to focus on a light throughout.

Halfway through my £2,800 op at Optical Express in January 2011 I started not being able to see. The surgeon started shouting at me to focus on the light which made me panic that things were going wrong.

After the surgery I was traumatised and there was a nurse who looked after me but the surgeon was unsympathetic. Everything was blurry and it took two months to die down.

After six months one of my eyes had perfect vision but the other was still -0.75. I was told it might improve or I might have to have follow-up surgery which, with my experience, I didn’t want to have. I had my last appointment a few months ago and my eyes are finally perfect.

I don’t regret having it done but I wish I’d been told more about it so I wouldn’t have worried so much that it hadn’t been done properly.”

Louise’s story

'I now have to wear glasses more than before surgery' ... Louise Waters has regrets

LOUISE WATERS, 46, a charity worker from Hove, East Sussex, paid £2,000 for surgery at Optical Express in March 2011. She says:

“I’ve been wearing glasses for about 15 years. Contact lenses didn’t agree with me so about two years ago I looked into surgery.

I had the op in central London and straight afterwards my eyes felt extremely uncomfortable but I’d been warned it would take time for it to settle, which it did after around 24 hours.

But my real concern was that, while my long distance vision was perfect, I couldn’t see anything close-up at all.

I complained to the clinic but they just stressed that in the small print it said the surgery was not guaranteed and the optician stressed he had said I might become short-sighted.

Considering the fact that I now have to wear glasses more than before, I wish I’d never gone to them.

My advice to anyone wanting the surgery would be to make sure they explain every possible outcome to you and the worst case scenario. If I’d been told that from the start I certainly wouldn’t have paid so much money for a pointless operation.”

Mark’s story

I have better than 20/20 vision ... Mark
SINGLE Mark Smith, 38, is a singer on cruise ships. He lives in Wednesbury, West Mids. He says:

“AFTER my surgery, my eyes were sore, running and stinging.

I had to take painkillers and my eyes felt very gritty but this was only for a short time.

I was short-sighted and I had found that my eyes were drying out in the evenings when I wore lenses.

As a singer on cruise ships, I have to stay up late so this was very inconvenient. In total, I spent £4,000 on my laser eye surgery. It sounds a lot but I am very pleased with the result.

I chose the “Elite” laser treatment at Ultralase in Birmingham, which is the most expensive but tailored exactly to your eye prescription.

I know you can have it done much more cheaply but there’s no way I would have my eyes cut with a scalpel or use a less accurate laser.

I now have better than 20/20 vision. I felt anxious beforehand but I didn’t feel any pain during the treatment.

As someone who couldn’t see past their hands from the age of ten, being able to wake up and see perfectly feels like a miracle.”


By LYNSEY HAYWOOD, Sun Health Reporter

I’VE written a lot about laser eye surgery but until May this year I’d never been brave enough to have it done myself.

I had a pioneering new type of keyhole surgery called SMILE with Professor Reinstein at his Harley Street clinic.

It involves operating via a small incision at the side of the eye. A laser cuts a flap in the surface of the cornea and then the cornea is reshaped to improve your sight. It was over in minutes and healed in days.

Having the surgery has changed my life. There’s no more fiddling around with contact lenses or sore, dry eyes after long days in the office. But I went to the best. Before the procedure I went through hours of tests and dozens of scans to ensure the risks were minimal.

After going through the process, the thought of just wandering in to a clinic and having an op like this fills me with worry.

You might end up OK, you might not. Why take the risk?

Choosing a good surgeon at a reputable clinic is the difference between being safe and bulletproof.

For details about Prof Reinstein and the London Vision Clinic visit londonvisionclinic.com.


hi just want to share this facebook page that i saw https://www.facebook.com/asianvisionsgroup there you can find trivas and facts about our eyes and you can also ask question where doctors would answer your question

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