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07-12-2016, 14:49   #1
zimmerseo
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Laser Eye Surgery Abroad - My experience

I've been wearing glasses for 25 years and recently I looked into getting laser surgery for my eyes.

I went to optilase and they said I have a stigma so basic eye surgery (lasik) wasn't going to fix it. What I needed was Clear Lens Extraction (CLE), otherwise known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) which is basically a natural lens replacement with an artificial one. It's basically cataract surgery and this was something they couldn't do.

I then went Optical Express. They quoted my €10,000...yeap. I said I would think about it. They must have rung me 10 times over the course of a month trying to close the sale. I told them I wasn't interested at that price.

I looked into my options and came across a company in Prague called DuoVise. Their price was 3,000! That included the most expensive, Multi-focal Toric lens that corrects stigmas and vision.

I thought their must be some kind of catch. How can they cost 3k and optical express charge 10k?

I rang optical express to see what they do thats so different. They told me that the technology is more up to date with them. Sounded fair enough.

I then rang Duovize and it turns out their equipment is better then Optical express as they could even offer "laser assisted" surgery which is much more accurate with a faster healing time. This service isn't even available anywhere in Ireland.

In this case, the laser breaks up the natural lens into segments..(not the surgeon) and creates a tiny keyhole in the side of the eye. Again, the surgeon would normally do this with a scalpel. After the laser is done, all the surgeon does is remove the old lens through the tiny "slot" and replace it with the custom lens.

As well as the cheaper price, I get 20% back in the form of a tax rebate, even though it's abroad. All you need is proof that the surgeon is qualified to do it.

When I asked my health insurance company about getting a rebate, they told me they only deal with optical express. If a health insurance company is offering a 25% rebate on the cost, what does it matter who does it, once they are qualified. The word "back handers" popped into my head straight away. Perhaps one of the reasons they are 3 times the price in Ireland.

After doing some browsing online the cheap prices advertised by the larger companies is a "get them in the door price" (which includes health insurance discount) and nobody actually gets that price. People usually end up paying a minimum of 3k just for the very basic Lasik flap surgery. Whereas Duovize charge €500 for the PRK / TE-PRK which is the Flapless procedure (again, more advanced for half the price). Go figure?

Anyway... I jumped on a flight to Prague for the weekend and saw their consultant on a Saturday morning. I was very impressed with their setup. I thought it might be some soviet style old hospital...far from it. Ultra modern. I still couldn't get over the price difference.

I had a complete examination which seemed to be a lot more thorough, complete with ECG tests and more. No stone was left unturned. They explained my options in detail and put no pressure on me whatsoever and at no time did I feel rushed into making a decision. I came home..had a think and paid a deposit for the lenses to be custom made in Germany by Zeiss.

I booked a return flight €150 and a nice 1 bed maintained apartment bang in the centre of the city for €350 (4 nights - 5 days), 2 minutes walk from their clinic and I flew over on the Tuesday. I was met at the airport and accompanied to my apartment. The next morning, I was met outside my apartment by Rita, a very nice lady and brought to the clinic a couple of minutes away and had the first eye done. It took about 10 minutes and I had zero pain...not even a tickle! They stuck a patch onto my eye and away I went with some eye drops. All in all, from arriving to leaving, it took an hour and a half.

The next morning, I took the patch off and applied 1 drop to it as I had been told to do and was very impressed at the instant clarity I had in that eye. Had an examination that next morning and was told it was a case book job and looked perfect. It felt a bit odd walking around with one perfect eye and one dodgy one but i got used to it.

The consultant said there were no restrictions on watching Tv etc. Just no swimming in public pools or heavy lifting. Common sense stuff really.

On the Friday the procedure was repeated. The next morning (Saturday) I took the other patch off and again...amazing clarity.

I went for a checkup again and they did a complete eye examination on me. I could read the smallest text on the chart but it was slightly hazy. The consultant told me it will take up to two weeks for the sharpness to return. Even with that I was delighted and the idea that it would get better was an added bonus. He said my eyesight will never deteriorate until the day I die and I will never get a cataract.

When I asked about aftercare, he said he had done over 20,000 of these operations and less than 100 had ever developed complications. On a rare occasion, someone could can develop an infection but simple anti-biotics cured that. He said if I did have any issues, they would be more than happy to address them if I returned to Prague but if not any qualified person in Ireland could deal with it.

It's very important to manage your expectations. After surgery like this, it can take weeks to heal and for older people longer. Don't expect to walk out with perfect vision straight away. It takes time for your brain to adjust to your new eyes and for your eyes to completely heal.

I hopped on a plane back to Dublin with my "new" eyes very chuffed with myself.

I was told to apply the drops 5 times a day for week 1, 4 times for week 2, 3 times a week for week 3 etc...

Two days later, I do notice a slight halo around lights of on coming cars when driving at night. I was told this would happen by the consultant but he said it would go away after time. Even 5 days later it's a lot better.

For those of you considering getting it done abroad to avoid what I would consider to be unjustifiably high costs in Ireland, I highly recommend it.

Last edited by zimmerseo; 07-12-2016 at 20:21.
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07-12-2016, 15:06   #2
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For standard surgeries, ~€3k, aftercare and convenience is worth doing it at home. You won't save much going to Prague when factoring in accommodation, flights, airport transfers, etc. to make it worth not having the aftercare.

For your type of surgery then it's definitely worth considering if it is a reputable clinic but €7k less face cost.
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07-12-2016, 15:10   #3
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Any questions...please ask!
For an urgent postoperative complication, who would you go to see?

Did you consider the option of any hospitals in Ireland rather than going to commercial businesses?
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07-12-2016, 16:01   #4
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It's good to hear experiences from other countries and it's great that yours was positive.

There are several reasons that costs can be higher in Ireland than in other countries. A major hidden cost in laser eye surgery is the professional insurance that surgeons have to pay here, approx. €100,000. So they have to earn €150,000+ before tax just to pay for their indemnity! The reason insurance is so high is because Ireland is one of the most litigious countries in the world and the court payments tend to be high.

The laser machines used cost significant 6 figure sums, much of which is the cost of the software which has to be updated. The benefits of the really high end machines are debatable and most people will likely not notice the difference.

It is not reasonable to compare chains with smaller clinics or individual surgeons. The €10k figure you were quoted is extraordinarily high, even for Ireland. Most of the people I know went to the most expensive surgeons in Dublin and they paid between €3k and €5k for both eyes, depending on the types of procedure they needed. This included long-term follow-up. They were all able to claim back against tax/VHI.

The complication rate that you quoted of 100 in 20,000 is not credible - that works out at 1 in 200 or 0.5%, which is unheard of even for the best surgeons. Any surgeon who says they have such a low complication rate is either unaware of their true complications (possible if he is seeing a lot of people from abroad who would get follow-up at home and perhaps never report it to him), is only counting serious complications, or is guessing and underestimating. If his complication rate is that low he would be one of the best in the world and would be charging you a lot more than €3k.

I would advise anyone thinking of laser surgery either at home or abroad to get at least 5 quotes in writing. I would also ask each surgeon for the following in writing: their ophthalmology qualifications, medical council registration details, exact type of surgery being offered (LASIK, PRK, etc. so you can compare like with like), the risk + benefits + alternatives, their personal audit results (total number of cases done, complication rates, % of patients who achieve 20/20 vision or better), and what their fee includes (e.g. 1 year follow-up, retreatment, etc.)

Laser surgery can be life-changing but it is a surgical procedure with risks that can happen even with the latest technology and the best surgeon.
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07-12-2016, 17:30   #5
zimmerseo
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Originally Posted by jive View Post
For standard surgeries, ~€3k, aftercare and convenience is worth doing it at home. You won't save much going to Prague when factoring in accommodation, flights, airport transfers, etc. to make it worth not having the aftercare.

For your type of surgery then it's definitely worth considering if it is a reputable clinic but €7k less face cost.
I agree. My wife got the Lasik simply because of the aftercare. My costs in going to Prague were €350 for accommodation, a private 1 bed apartment in the city centre and €150 for flights.

Had she gone the Prague route, she would have saved a couple of thousand but the after care was important for her.
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07-12-2016, 17:35   #6
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Originally Posted by ?Cee?view View Post
For an urgent postoperative complication, who would you go to see?

Did you consider the option of any hospitals in Ireland rather than going to commercial businesses?
Should I need urgent after care, I would just have to pay for an Irish consultant or pay for a flight to Prague. If there was going to be any issue with the surgery in terms of infection, the consultant would usually see signs the following day during the initial checkup.

Duovize were quite specific that they were more than happy to address any problems I might have down the road free of charge, but everything looks fine so far.

The after care is really just a checkup. My wife had Lasik done in Ireland and it was literally, 5 minutes..in and out.

Last edited by zimmerseo; 07-12-2016 at 20:24.
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07-12-2016, 18:01   #7
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Originally Posted by Arbie View Post
It's good to hear experiences from other countries and it's great that yours was positive.

There are several reasons that costs can be higher in Ireland than in other countries. A major hidden cost in laser eye surgery is the professional insurance that surgeons have to pay here, approx. €100,000. So they have to earn €150,000+ before tax just to pay for their indemnity! The reason insurance is so high is because Ireland is one of the most litigious countries in the world and the court payments tend to be high.

The laser machines used cost significant 6 figure sums, much of which is the cost of the software which has to be updated. The benefits of the really high end machines are debatable and most people will likely not notice the difference.

It is not reasonable to compare chains with smaller clinics or individual surgeons. The €10k figure you were quoted is extraordinarily high, even for Ireland. Most of the people I know went to the most expensive surgeons in Dublin and they paid between €3k and €5k for both eyes, depending on the types of procedure they needed. This included long-term follow-up. They were all able to claim back against tax/VHI.

The complication rate that you quoted of 100 in 20,000 is not credible - that works out at 1 in 200 or 0.5%, which is unheard of even for the best surgeons. Any surgeon who says they have such a low complication rate is either unaware of their true complications (possible if he is seeing a lot of people from abroad who would get follow-up at home and perhaps never report it to him), is only counting serious complications, or is guessing and underestimating. If his complication rate is that low he would be one of the best in the world and would be charging you a lot more than €3k.

I would advise anyone thinking of laser surgery either at home or abroad to get at least 5 quotes in writing. I would also ask each surgeon for the following in writing: their ophthalmology qualifications, medical council registration details, exact type of surgery being offered (LASIK, PRK, etc. so you can compare like with like), the risk + benefits + alternatives, their personal audit results (total number of cases done, complication rates, % of patients who achieve 20/20 vision or better), and what their fee includes (e.g. 1 year follow-up, retreatment, etc.)

Laser surgery can be life-changing but it is a surgical procedure with risks that can happen even with the latest technology and the best surgeon.
There is a lot of truth in what you say.

In my particular case, I had a Clear Lens Extraction (CLE), otherwise known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE). In addition, I chose the multi-focal toric lens. In Ireland, Optical express quoted me 10k for this service.

Insurance is an issue for pretty much every industry in Ireland but assuming these companies do 8-10 procedures a day, it works out at about 1.5% of their turnover or €60 per procedure, which doesn't come close to justifying the 7,000 price difference.

The machines are very expensive...like half a million each, having said that, the companies probably pay roughly the same amount for the machines. On top of that corporation tax in Czech republic is almost twice that of Ireland, so again..hard to justify the price difference.

For me anyway, as these procedures are pretty standard all over the world, cost was the most important issue, particular when it amounted to a difference of €7,000 for exactly the same procedure. The chances of something going was was an obvious concern and I spoke to the consultant in great length about this.

He was quite open and frank in our discussion and what he considered a complication was a patient that required secondary surgery for whatever reason. Perhaps they didn't stick to the after care plan...maybe they did some heavy lifting, infection...who knows. Other "complications" such as halo, star bursts etc generally clear up over time and are quite normal.

During the conversation, he struck me as someone I could trust and he would have nothing to gain by leading me astray. I got the impression he didn't particularly need the money.

Yes, you are quite correct in saying that eye surgery can be life-changing but I don't see any justification for the costs in Ireland for an identical procedure abroad by someone who is probably more experienced that their counter part in Ireland.

These chain clinics would like to give the impression that places like the Czech republic are somehow technically backward when in actual fact they are ahead of Ireland in terms of equipment.

The purpose of my post was not to knock the quality of the procedures or the specialists who do them. It's just to highlight the fact that people don't have to pay the sky high prices for them.

Last edited by zimmerseo; 07-12-2016 at 19:56.
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02-09-2018, 17:32   #8
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Zimmerseo
I know it's almost 2 years since this thread was active but a workmate of mine had this surgery in Dublin recently and paid €11,500 . He is absolutely delighted with the results and when he told me I decided to look into it as I can't have standard laser surgery due to astigmatism. When I came across your post I couldn't believe the difference in the price. I might look into Prague myself but I'm wondering after the period of time that has passed for you if everything has gone smoothly since. I'd appreciate any feedback you have. Cheers.
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02-09-2018, 17:41   #9
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Zimmerseo
I know it's almost 2 years since this thread was active but a workmate of mine had this surgery in Dublin recently and paid €11,500 . He is absolutely delighted with the results and when he told me I decided to look into it as I can't have standard laser surgery due to astigmatism. When I came across your post I couldn't believe the difference in the price. I might look into Prague myself but I'm wondering after the period of time that has passed for you if everything has gone smoothly since. I'd appreciate any feedback you have. Cheers.

Hi,

Yes my eyesight is perfect and I've had no complications of any kind. I went to my local opticians in Naas a year after the surgery, just to see what my prescription was now compared to what it was there (post surgery). I explained everything to them and in the end my eyesight was better than 20/20, in the sense that I could read the line below the line that most people with 20/20 can read.

I did have some light halos when driving at night initially. These were kind of fuzzy circles of light around on coming car lights. Today, I either don't notice them or they are gone. I haven't been aware of them in a long time. It does take a bout 6 months to get used to it, but that mainly down to getting used to no glasses as opposed to the surgery itself.

Bear in mind, the equipment in Prague is newer than that of Dublin. It's laser assisted, which wasn't an available option in Ireland when I got mind done.
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02-09-2018, 17:47   #10
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Hi,

Yes my eyesight is perfect and I've had no complications of any kind. I went to my local opticians in Naas a year after the surgery, just to see what my prescription was now compared to what it was there (post surgery). I explained everything to them and in the end my eyesight was better than 20/20, in the sense that I could read the line below the line that most people with 20/20 can read.

I did have some light halos when driving at night initially. These were kind of fuzzy circles of light around on coming car lights. Today, I either don't notice them or they are gone. I haven't been aware of them in a long time. It does take a bout 6 months to get used to it, but that mainly down to getting used to no glasses as opposed to the surgery itself.

Bear in mind, the equipment in Prague is newer than that of Dublin. It's laser assisted, which wasn't an available option in Ireland when I got mind done.
Thanks a lot zimmerseo.
I might make contact with Prague and take it from there. If I go ahead with it I will come back and post my experience here for anyone else who might be interested. Thanks for replying.
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16-02-2020, 17:44   #11
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I know this thread is a few years old but I'm interested in getting laser done for jobs reasons, I got a consultation done here and they recommended me for LASEK surgery but the cost is €4800 and my prescription is small!

I'm looking into going abroad but finding it hard getting peoples experience! Yours sounds good which makes me feel a little easier about it..

I was wondering if I could ask you the name of the Clinic you attended?
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16-02-2020, 18:46   #12
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I know this thread is a few years old but I'm interested in getting laser done for jobs reasons, I got a consultation done here and they recommended me for LASEK surgery but the cost is €4800 and my prescription is small!

I'm looking into going abroad but finding it hard getting peoples experience! Yours sounds good which makes me feel a little easier about it..

I was wondering if I could ask you the name of the Clinic you attended?
Hi Darren I used DuoVize in Prague and I would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone.
My experience from start to finish was very very professional.
They organised hotel room and a pick up to and from the airport and a translator even though we didn't require one as everyone spoke excellent English.
The Procedure (CLE) went to perfection with no pain or infection.
I went from -14 to -2 which is a huge improvement for me.
Now 10 months on I have no regrets.
Procedure cost about 1500€ ...
www.duovize.cz
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16-02-2020, 22:32   #13
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Originally Posted by Darren0999 View Post
I know this thread is a few years old but I'm interested in getting laser done for jobs reasons, I got a consultation done here and they recommended me for LASEK surgery but the cost is €4800 and my prescription is small!

I'm looking into going abroad but finding it hard getting peoples experience! Yours sounds good which makes me feel a little easier about it..

I was wondering if I could ask you the name of the Clinic you attended?
Who is charging that, and why more importantly. It's pretty much a fixed price of 3k +-200 unless you have something outside the norm.
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23-02-2020, 09:19   #14
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Im going to Lithuania next month for lasik, 776 eur for both eyes, 100 eur fligts, 130 eur accommodation. Flying out thursday, back monday morning. Ill write up a review when done.
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15-05-2020, 10:16   #15
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Im going to Lithuania next month for lasik, 776 eur for both eyes, 100 eur fligts, 130 eur accommodation. Flying out thursday, back monday morning. Ill write up a review when done.
How did this go for you?
Would you recommend them? What exact procedure did you get? I’ve been told it’s the lens replacement I need so looking to that that. Very informative reading in this thread!
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