Have you considered laser eye surgery? As an expat, you might not be aware that you could be eligible for reimbursements. We visited the Focus Eye Clinic: a modern and friendly clinic nestled away in Wemmel, a 20-minute drive from the centre of Brussels.
It’s the perfect setting if you require a discreet environment where you can relax and be treated in peace. Our first impression of the clinic was that it wasn't clinical at all. There were no nervous-looking patients shifting uncomfortably on their chairs – the clinic is designed so patients can feel at ease immediately. And there are no scary white coats at Focus Eye Clinic, instead the friendly nurses looked lovely in their fuchsia tunics.
We asked head doctor Peter Evens a few questions…
What types of treatment are available?
There are two main types of refractive treatment depending on your age. Femto-Lasik is a laser reshaping of the cornea, for people under the age of 45.
Refractive lens exchange is typically for over-45s, the age when the lens gets less elastic and the zoom ability diminishes (which is why people need glasses and experience reading problems). This treatment sees the removal of the old lens, which is replaced with a multifocal new lens implant – enabling the patient to see both far and near.
Am I entitled to reimbursement?
Dr Evens explained that there is a difference in refunds depending on whether you are affiliated to the Belgian healthcare system or a separate expat scheme (such as JSIS for EU officials, or a private mutuelle). For issues such as cataracts, anyone can be refunded the medical costs. However, when it comes to refractive treatment to avoid glasses – which is a cosmetic treatment – only those outside the Belgian system can claim part of the cost back.
Expats could therefore be entitled to a refund of 85% for either treatment option, with a limit of €2,000 per eye for Femto-Lasik, and a limit of €2,600 per eye for a multifocal lens replacement. You pay in full, either by cheque or card, at the clinic and you will be reimbursed soon after.
What's the technology used?
The past few years have seen an evolution in the technology used and the quality and types of multi-, bi- and tri- focal lenses that go into the eye. The Femto laser does it all, making the pain-free treatment, more effective, accurate and comfortable. The clinic boasts high-tech equipment including a Ziemer Z8, one of only 10 in the world.
So, what’s the process?
You can book in for your initial free screening either online or by phoning the clinic direct. After your session you’ll be told what type of treatment is best for your eyes, taking into account your age, eye health, lifestyle, occupation and whether your lenses are clear or have cataracts. The older you are, the more likely you will have the lens implant. Feel a little confused? Watch these easy to understand 3D animations on clear lens and cataract surgery with Femto Laser and a multifocal lens.
Once your screening process has ended, you’ll then need a full consultation to establish the criteria and see if there are any contra-indications. It’s here at the consultation that you’ll be told if you’re eligible for refund. The great news is that the consultation is also 85% refundable if you are outside the Belgian healthcare system. If you decide to go ahead after your consultation (and 90% of people do) you can book in and expect to wait four to five weeks until your surgery.
Believe it or not, after a laser treatment or a lens implant you should be able to drive the very next day – although you’ll be advised to refrain from intensive sports or swimming in the sea for one week.
Focus Eye Clinic, Kaasmarkt 97, Wemmel. Tel: 02 427 59 85
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