The Refractive (Laser) Eye Surgery Industry is long overdue statutory regulation. Worryingly, a large section of those currently undertaking Refractive Eye Surgery are failing to follow the quality standards developed by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. You may be surprised to read that there is no legal requirement for a surgeon to be qualified or experienced in this field of surgery. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists introduced a certificate in laser surgery, but surprisingly only half of practicing surgeons have one.

The Laser Eye Surgery procedure can cause damage to a patient’s eye and negligent follow up treatment can also result in injury. Most of the problems can be avoided with careful pre-operative checks. Some patients may not be suitable candidates for laser eye surgery and thorough screening beforehand should identify these prospective patients. In some cases negligent aftercare, such as excessive steroid drop prescription, can cause complications as serious as blindness.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ quality standards should in our opinion be made compulsory. The Regulation of Refractive Eye Surgery Bill was read in Parliament by John McDonnell MP in November 2013 and a year on, we still do not have the required legislated regulations. The Bill proposes for the creation of a register of practicing surgeons and a focus on consent requirements aimed at tackling aggressive sales tactics. An interesting point John McDonnell MP raised was the need to limit the number of operations that surgeons can carry out on any given day to avoid mistakes taking place.

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