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But the GMC will not be able to tell you what training a surgeon has had with the excimer laser. The big problem is that, other than being a doctor, no specialist qualifications are legally required to carry out laser eye surgery.The Royal College of Ophthalmologists suggests anyone considering the operation should ask their surgeon for details of their training, qualifications, length of practice and results.Yet they came to the UK, linked themselves to clinics and were doing Lasik.' Mr Gartry is also unhappy with the production-line techniques prevalent in many clinics.'In many cases, you may not meet your surgeon until the operation itself - and never see him or her again for the aftercare.Ideally, they should be a fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists or the Royal College of Surgeons.But this leaves the ball very much in the patient's court.Publicity pictures of Richard Branson throwing his glasses in the bin simply reinforce the idea that this is the operation you have been waiting for.

'In their own country, they were very junior eye doctors and nowhere near being surgically trained.

How, for instance, are they to check on the qualifications of surgeons trained abroad?

Mr David Gartry, who performed the first laser eye surgery for short-sightedness in the UK in 1989 and is a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Hospital, London, is one of those concerned by the lack of central registration.

There is little or no pain, recovery is much quicker, both eyes can be done at once and greater degrees of short-sightedness can be treated accurately.

However, the cutting of the flap requires skill, and in one to four per cent of cases this can cause problems.

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