Why UK patients travel abroad for laser eye surgery


More citizens from the United Kingdom are traveling abroad for laser eye procedures, according to a medical travel website. Enquiries from the United Kingdom into overseas clinics for laser procedures rose 60% in the 12 months ending November 15, 2016, according to WhatClinic.com, which lists medical clinic by location.

More citizens from the United Kingdom are traveling abroad for laser eye procedures, according to a medical travel website.

Enquiries from the United Kingdom into overseas clinics for laser procedures rose 60% in the 12 months ending in November 2016, according to WhatClinic.com, which lists medical clinic by location.

By comparison, overall global enquiries into laser eye procedures rose only 21% and enquiries for all laser eye procedures from United Kingdom users to clinics at home and abroad increased only 17%.

Similarly, enquiries from the United Kingdom for LASIK procedures abroad increased 100%, but the overall increase including domestic searches increased by 88%.

Additionally, enquiries for consultations with laser eye surgeons in overseas clinics increased by 42% over the 12 months.

The 2 most popular types of laser eye surgery are LASIK and Laser-Assisted Subepithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK), the site reported.

More: 16 most popular stories of 2016

In LASIK, a cool beam of light from an excimer laser slightly reshapes the cornea. In LASEK, the top layer of the cornea is lifted as a flap before the cornea is resculpted.

LASIK has been available since the early 1990s, and is the more popular of the procedures because it is more straightforward and has a faster recovery time, according to the site.

However, LASIK is not always the optimal choice for all patients. For those with thin corneas or those who are involved in contact sports, LASEK can be more appropriate, the site reported.

Prices vary widely, determined by the country, the press release detailed.

Although 862 clinics in the United Kingdom offer LASIK, the average price of LASIK among reported sites in the United Kingdom is ï¿¡1,605. By comparison, LASIK treatment averages ï¿¡823 in Turkey, ï¿¡696 in Spain, ï¿¡594 in the Czech Republic, and ï¿¡319 in Poland.

However, price may not be the main factor




“Medical tourism is often driven by price, but when it comes to laser eye surgery, price may not always be the main factor behind people's travel,” said Philip Boyle, head of consumer matters for the company. “Many patients who are traveling for work or pleasure consider ‘adding on’ treatment when they are abroad. For example, many enquiries are being made to India, where the cost of travel really negates any savings made.”

Although laser surgery is available on the National Health Service (NHS) for some eye conditions that can lead to loss of vision, myopia is rarely among them because glasses and contact lenses are considered successful treatment, he added.

Celebrities including Laura Whitmore, Nicole Kidman, Jodie Kidd, Brad Pitt, and Richard Branson have had laser eye surgery, helping popularize the procedures, the company said.

Even after getting his vision corrected in 2002, Elton John held on to his wacky glasses because they are still a big part of his image. In 2010, he claimed to own as many as 250,000 pairs, according to the press release.

“The high adoption of the LASIK procedures is driven by the changing demographics-significantly among the young generation between the age group of 18 to 35 years,” said Sheraz Daya, MD, medical director of Centre for Sight London, in the press release.

He attributed the popularity of the procedure to “peer pressure and high awareness of self-improving techniques available with cosmetic surgeries.” 

Boyle cautioned patients considering treatment abroad to read patient reviews and ensure the quality and credentials of the clinic they select.

More: What will be the top ophthalmic challenges in 2017?

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