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What does cataract surgery cost?

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Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the UK according to the NHS, with over 300,000 people benefiting from it every year.

Surgery is usually offered free on the NHS if your cataracts are affecting your eyesight and quality of life. Waiting lists on the NHS can be many months though, and patients with early cataracts are usually not offered treatment until the cataracts progress to a certain stage.

If you’d like to receive treatment more quickly it’s worth considering having private cataract surgery. In addition to the shorter waiting times, having the procedure carried out privately may also have other benefits, such as:

  • You are able to have the same physician performing the operation and seeing you for consultations before and after the operation.

  • You can decide when and where to have the procedure.

  • And private surgery means that you can have the option of toric or multifocal implants to reduce your reliance on prescription glasses after surgery.

The cost of cataract surgery in the UK typically ranges from around £2000 to £4000 per per eye if you don't have private medical insurance, though some providers allow you to pay for the surgery on a monthly basis. The actual amount paid for cataract surgery without insurance depends on several factors, including the type of intraocular lens (IOL) implanted in the eye during the procedure, the type of technology used during surgery, and the skill and experience of the surgeon.

Some other elements to consider when thinking about private cataract surgery:

There are a number of premium IOLs and advanced surgical techniques, some available at an additional cost if you want greater freedom from glasses after cataract surgery:

Presbyopia-correcting IOLs

These advanced intraocular lenses expand your range of vision, reducing vision loss caused by presbyopia so you can read and see clearly up close without reading glasses. The two most popular types of presbyopia-correcting IOLs approved for cataract surgery in the United States are multifocal IOLs and accommodating IOLs.

Toric IOLs

These astigmatism-correcting IOLs enable a person who had astigmatism prior to cataract surgery to see clearly for driving, computer use, reading and other tasks without eyeglasses after cataract surgery.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery

In this advanced procedure (also called "laser cataract surgery"), a femtosecond laser is used to perform steps in cataract surgery that typically are performed with manual surgical tools, adding a higher degree of precision.

Laser cataract surgery can also reduce stress on the retina and other delicate tissues of the eye during cataract extraction.

Laser cataract surgery is usually performed when a premium presbyopia-correcting or astigmatism-correcting IOL is implanted. The added cost of the laser procedure typically is included in the price of the premium IOL.

Limbal relaxing incisions

Also called LRI or corneal relaxing incisions, this is an additional surgical procedure that can be performed during cataract surgery to correct astigmatism. One or more small, arc-shaped incisions are made in the periphery of the cornea, and as these incisions heal (without stitches), the cornea takes on a more spherical shape.

Laser arcuate incisions

This minor surgical procedure is very similar to LRI, but the incisions are made with a femtosecond laser rather than a hand-held surgical tool.

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