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.
But it's not available for 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.
Which conditions can't be treated on the NHS?
Laser eye surgery is widely used to help treat refractive errors such as:
- short-sightedness (myopia)
- long-sightedness (hyperopia)
- astigmatism, where the cornea (front surface of the eye) isn't perfectly curved, causing blurred vision
But these conditions aren't available for treatment on the NHS because other successful treatments are available, such as wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Some NHS trusts run laser eye surgery clinics, but they usually charge a fee.
Finding a clinic for laser eye surgery
If you decide to have laser eye surgery to correct a refractive error, speak to your optometrist (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 carry out 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
- RCOphth: A patient's guide to laser refractive surgery (PDF, 364kb)
Page last reviewed: 1 April 2017
Next review due: 1 April 2020