The 5 essential qualities of a top laser eye surgeon

Choosing where to have your laser eye surgery can be a complex decision. For those who like to do their research on the surgeon carrying out the treatment, it is worth considering these factors;

The surgeon’s training and experience

One of the most common questions we hear from patients is: “How many eyes has the surgeon treated?” This is closely followed by: “What is the success rate and complication rate?”

Each individual consultant should have their own statistics to refer to when stating an approximation of how many eyes they have treated and their surgery complication rate. The higher the number of treated eyes, the more likely they are to be experienced in dealing with any complications that might arise.

Mr James Ball graduated with his medical degree from Cambridge University in 1995 and was awarded the Fawcett Prize. After completing his ophthalmology training in Brighton, Oxford and Yorkshire, he moved to Australia to undertake specialist training in laser eye surgery at the prestigious Lions Eye Institute, WA.

There, he worked on the development of new techniques in refractive surgery. On his return to the UK, Mr Ball completed a second fellowship in corneal and refractive surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

The technology your surgeon uses

Technology is constantly evolving, and the way in which we perform laser eye surgery has advanced rapidly. The Zeiss Visumax is the only femtosecond laser in the world that is sufficiently accurate to perform treatment of short-sightedness with a flap-less SMILE procedure. It’s accuracy also benefits LASIK patients since the precision of the flap dimensions helps the safety of the procedure. In addition, the Visumax is the most gentle on the eye, enhancing the comfort of the LASIK procedure for the patient.


The surgeon is not the only important part of the choice of which laser eye surgery provider to choose- the feel of the clinic and the surgeon’s team who support him are also crucial. A patient needs to feel welcomed and cared for at all stages of their treatment – from the initial inquiry, whether that is over the phone or online, to the first consultation. Patients often feel apprehensive and may have a lot of questions and do not want to feel rushed through their consultation. A patient will spend time with optometrists, ophthalmic health care assistants and patient coordinators in their journey, and each of them helps to form the patient’s opinion of a clinic and often affects their decision when choosing where to have treatment.

Access to your surgeon after treatment

It is only natural that a patient would have concerns when having laser treatment. Therefore, it is the surgeon’s job to put that patient’s mind at ease and reassure them that they are receiving the best care. Some surgeons give their personal mobile phone numbers to patients who have undergone laser treatment and encourage the patient to contact them with any concerns or questions. It is important that the surgeon builds a good relationship with each patient from the initial consultation, and that the patient feels at ease asking any questions they have at any time.

How patients see them

These days patients spend time researching the experiences that previous patients have had, and many websites provide this service. Clinics often have some of their reviews displayed in their waiting rooms for patients to read.

We found that at patient open evenings, attendees who are thinking about going ahead with the surgery like to talk to patients who have already had the treatment because they can ask them more personal questions. For example, they might ask them what happened on the day of treatment, how it felt afterwards, how soon they were able to return to work and what their vision is like after the surgery. It can make the potential patient feel as if they are gaining an unbiased opinion of the clinic.

How do you find a surgeon with these qualities?

You are reading a blog post on the Custom Vision Clinic website, so in all honesty, we feel that the direct route to finding a surgeon with the essential qualities you need in a laser eye surgeon is to book and see James Ball for a consultation.

The sources of data available to help people with the decision-making process are increasing, with improved data collection of not only the “hard outcomes” of visual acuity and refraction but also the arguably more important “soft outcomes” reported by patients – improvement in the quality of vision and quality of life.

When James Ball needed shoulder surgery in 2007, he used his inside contacts to find a surgeon whom he could trust with his health and, crucially, his manual dexterity, which is vital for his work.



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About our surgeons

Mr James Ball | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MA (Cantab) MB BChir FRCOphth CertLRS

I am a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Custom Vision Clinic, St James’s University Hospital, and Nuffield Hospital. My major interest is in refractive surgery and finding the best treatment suitable for each patient.

Mr Jack Gormley | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MB ChB (Hons) FRCOphth CertLRS

I am a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Custom Vision Clinic and York Teaching Hospital, where I lead the Corneal and Refractive service. I have completed over 2,000 surgical and laser eye procedures.


Read more about laser eye surgery

New refractive surgery guidelines from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, together with patient information on Laser Vision Correction, Phakic Intraocular Lens Implantation, Refractive Lens Exchange and a Checklist for patients will be published in April 2017. Click here for more information

Take this checklist to your consultation with your refractive surgeon performing the procedure. Discuss each item with your surgeon to help you make the decision that is right for you before having
refractive surgery. Click here for more information

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ Laser Vision Correction Patient Information booklet (PDF). Click here for more information

Tips for patients interested in laser eye surgery. The road to laser eye surgery can sometimes be confusing. Thinking of the journey as a step-by-step process, from an early interest in laser eye surgery all the way to post-operative care, might make it easier. The following supporting materials will help you learn more about what happens during the process, and answer questions along the way. However, it is recommended to consult with an eye care provider to get more knowledgable of the procedure and to find out whether laser eye surgery might be an option. Click here for more information
Discover how laser eye surgeries differ and compare. The following chart provides an overview of all key facts and figures when it comes to laser eye surgery. While all three Laser Vision Correction procedures have a high success rate, they differ slightly in the refractive errors treated, the treatment method used, and the clinical specifics of each procedure. A doctor or clinic representative can help you understand which procedure is best for your individual eye condition. Click here for more information

SMILE corrects myopia and astigmatism, or a combination of both refractive errors with only a very small incision at the corneal surface. This high-precision procedure is the latest development in the refractive laser treatments. Includes videos, treatment steps, and questions and answers.
Click here for more information

LASIK treats refractive errors by folding away the top layer of the eye and re-shaping tissue underneath. If a femtosecond laser is used, this type of procedure is called Femto-LASIK. Includes videos, treatment steps and questions and answers. Click here for more information

PRK/LASEK procedures remove a thin cell layer from the top of the eye so the laser can reshape the underlying cornea. This surgery may be an option for those who are not eligible for LASIK or those who look for the most economic option for refractive laser surgery. Includes videos, treatment steps, and questions and answers. Click here for more information

Laser eye surgery treatments are clinically proven and established procedures. Like all surgeries, however, laser eye surgery is not free of risks and side effects. Only your ophthalmologist can explain the individual risks and decide whether laser eye treatment is an option. Some complications that can occur are… Click here for more information
Photorefractive (laser) surgery for the correction of refractive errors. Understanding NICE guidance – information for people considering the procedure, and for the public. Click here for more information
Custom Vision Clinic’s YouTube Channel features James Ball answering hundreds of eye-related questions on video – ranging from laser refractive surgery, lens exchange and keratoconus treatment. Click here for more information
Laser eye surgery reviews of Custom Vision Clinic on Trustpilot. Click here for more information