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Can I get laser eye surgery on the NHS?

It depends on what eye condition you have.

Laser surgery is available on the NHS for eye conditions that, without treatment, can lead to loss of vision.

However, laser surgery is not available for eye conditions that can be treated successfully in other ways, such as short- or long-sightedness, which can be treated with glasses or contact lenses.

Which conditions can be treated on the NHS?

Laser surgery is available on the NHS for eye conditions that, without treatment, can lead to loss of vision, including blindness.

These conditions include:

Which conditions cannot be treated on the NHS?

Laser eye surgery is widely used to help treat refractive errors such as:

But these conditions are not available for treatment by laser surgery on the NHS because other successful treatments are available, such as wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Finding a clinic for laser eye surgery

If you decide to have laser eye surgery to correct a refractive error, speak to an optician first. They can advise you on the procedure and recommend clinics in your area.

Guidelines from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) say only registered surgeons with specialist training should carry out laser surgery.

Most clinics that do laser surgery for refractive errors will require you to:

  • be over 21
  • be in good general health
  • have healthy eyes
  • have had a stable prescription (one with very little change) for the past 2 to 3 years

Read more about having laser eye surgery for refractive errors.

Guidance is also available from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): Laser surgery for the correction of refractive errors

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 14 April 2020
Next review due: 14 April 2023