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BBC Watchdog laser eye surgery - not all clinics are the same

Published on 6th May 2011

Some of you may have seen BBC Watchdog on TV last night with quite a lengthy item about laser eye treatment at Optical Express. Whilst the item was in no way negative about laser eye correction, it was negative about the sales techniques used by Optical Express and their overall lack of consistency on their pricing structure and knowledge available by their "patient advisors".

I watched this programme with interest, as I speak to patients on almost a weekly basis who have experienced exactly the issues that were raised within this item.

One of the biggest criticisms that came out was that patients only get to meet their treating surgeon on the day of the treatment itself. This sometimes results in either the treatment being cancelled or a different treatment being required altogether (and sometimes at a higher cost too) to the one that they were originally due to have.

Here at Visualase we have always had patient consultations with their treating surgeon. Our clinic is consultant led and every patient is seen and examined by one of our ophthalmic surgeons.

This valuable time with the surgeon as part of your decision making process is surprisingly rare and many other clinics do not offer this including Optical Express.

The feedback we consistently receive from our patients are that they find it very reassuring to meet their doctor in advance and ask any questions they have directly.

It also means that if you are suitable and decide to proceed, you have already met and established a relationship with your doctor, something which is praised very highly. As one of our surgeons Dr Eamonn Hynes says on a video clip on our web site "..when you come for a consultation for laser eye treatment, you need to see the surgeon, not a salesperson".

Another big criticism was to do with pricing. Optical Express have for a while now headlined the "from £395 per eye" price. It was certainly highlighted in last nights' programme just how inconsistent & unobtainable this is. Different branches were quoting different prescription strengths to "qualify for the deal" and Watchdog actually likened it to double glazing salesmanship.

At Visualase we have always been very open and transparent with our pricing . We don't do "from £395". What we do offer is a clear pricing structure so you know exactly what to expect to pay before you even walk through the door for your consultation. There are no "extras" or "add ons" or "up sales".

I got the feeling from watching the undercover filming that the advice potential patients were receiving from these so called "patient advisors" was of a poor standard and in some instances, just plain wrong and misleading and Professor David Gartry of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists who commented on the programme confirmed this.

There really is no replacement for a consultation with the surgeon who is ultimately going to treat you. Visualase are a private independent clinic , not part of any High Street chain, with a long serving knowledgeable patient advisors and extremely experienced optometrists and ophthalmologists. Not all laser eye clinics are the have been warned! 


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