Is it possible to have laser eye surgery for free on the NHS?

It would be great if laser eye surgery was available on the NHS. Free treatment is always a good thing, isn't it?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. The NHS doesn't have a bottomless pit to fund operations, procedures and treatment. Priority must be given to essential medical care which laser eye surgery for short-sightedness or long-sightedness simply is not.

Although minor vision problems can be a hindrance, they cannot be viewed as a serious health problem. Most can be treated effectively with less expensive solutions such as spectacles or contact lenses. The NHS, and ultimately the British taxpayer, shouldn't be expected to pay for what is essentially a cosmetic procedure.

The issue is somewhat clouded by the fact that plastic surgery and obesity treatment are often available on the NHS. It's arguable that these are no more deserving of NHS funding except in cases involving reconstructive treatment and so on.

However, laser eye surgery is available on the NHS in cases where treatment is required to prevent significant loss of vision or more serious health problems. For example, patients with macular oedema will be offered laser surgery for free on the NHS.

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