The Different Types of Laser Eye Surgery Options

Do you suffer from farsightedness or nearsightedness? Prescription eyeglasses or corrective lenses are not your only answers to these common eye conditions. These types of refractive errors in vision can be easily corrected with laser eye surgery procedures like SMILE and LASIK.

In fact, in many cases, patients can go back to work the very next day. Why not enjoy improved eyesight as the latest laser eye surgery procedures are minimally invasive and associated with very short downtimes?

Get a better handle on the most popular types of laser eye surgery procedures. A lot has changed since laser eye surgery became available to patients. Understand more about the latest in laser eye surgery procedures like SMILE and LASIK and how they differ from popular surface laser treatments of the past still used today.

If you are considering laser eye surgery, it is helpful to know what to expect when it comes to procedures like LASIK, SMILE, PRK, LASEK, and TransPRK.


A popular elective procedure known all over the world, LASIK or laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses, is a type of surgery used to correct specific vision issues. This type of surgery can be recommended for those with refractive errors including astigmatism, hyperopia (farsightedness), and myopia (nearsightedness).

Bladeless LASIK replaces a surgical blade with a laser and either traditional or a bladeless LASIK option can successfully treat the eye conditions mentioned above.



Available with approval since 2016, SMILE or small incision lenticule extraction is a more recent laser vision correction procedure. SMILE can be used to address myopic astigmatism and myopia. SMILE laser eye surgery uses a femtosecond laser to remove a thin layer below the cornea’s surface. Patients can expect healing within a matter of days.

While both LASIK and SMILE eye surgery has many benefits in common, such as minimal downtime and a recovery time of one to two days, there are a few differences worth noting.

LASIK surgery can be used in the correction of more refractive errors than the SMILE procedure. However, it is more invasive, requires a corneal flap, and uses both an excimer and a femtosecond laser. Patients who will undergo a LASIK procedure will have to attend to postoperative restrictions and may experience dry eye symptoms.

SMILE only uses a femtosecond laser, is not as invasive, does not require a corneal flap, and offers patients a reduced risk of dry eye symptoms. Unfortunately, patients contending with hyperopia or farsightedness cannot use SMILE as a vision corrective procedure. The cost of LASIK and SMILE procedures are both relatively affordable without a marked difference between them.

Surface Laser Treatments: PRK, LASEK, and TransPRK


What is a surface laser treatment? These procedures are some of the oldest laser eye surgery procedures and offer the ability to perform alterations to the cornea’s outer surface. While found to be safe and effective, these procedures do result in longer recovery periods and potentially more discomfort.

PRK and LASEK predate LASIK and SMILE. PRK and LASEK can also be used to correct a larger range of conditions, including astigmatism, presbyopia, hyperopia, and myopia.

PRK or photorefractive keratectomy has been used since the 80s as a laser vision procedure and is the first to utilize the excimer laser for reshaping the cornea.

This vision corrective procedure allows for the reshaping of the layer under the epithelium. It also helps with the regrowth of the epithelium and affected tissue under an applied contact lens. In this procedure, the epithelium is removed completely.

Comparatively, in LASEK, the epithelium is pushed to the side while the layer underneath is reshaped and then moved back into place. In both procedures, a contact lens is used to protect the area while new tissue grows back.

PRK and LASEK involve the use of a contact lens. Patients undergo a longer recovery time when compared to LASIK and SMILE eye surgery procedures. There are no noticeable differences between PRK and LASEK, in terms of recovery time and post-operative pain.

Expectations for visual outcomes for patients undergoing PRK or the TransPRK procedure are the same. The difference with TransPRK or transepithelial photorefractive keratectomy is that the corneal epithelium is removed with a laser in TransPRK, while alcohol is used for this process in PRK.

Those choosing TransPRK also have a lower risk of developing dry eye symptoms after the procedure, when compared to those undergoing LASIK.

LASIK and SMILE should be the first options to consider with surface laser treatments while PRK and LASER are secondary choices. PRK or LASER may be recommended when patients also have other eye issues to be corrected, such as a loose surface epithelium or scarring.

PRK or LASER patients may expect a recovery period of several days and discomfort or irritation for a week after the procedure.

Which Vision Corrective Procedure is Right for You?

As we go through various types of laser eye surgery, it can be difficult to make a choice as to which procedure may best suit your specific needs. And we strive to provide any support and guidance necessary during this process.

Do know that other co-occurring eye disorders or conditions may eliminate a few of the options listed above and potentially necessitate a longer recovery period? If that is the case, understand that all of the laser eye surgery options discussed have been found to be safe and effective.

With laser eye surgery, it is possible to regain 20/20 vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses. Speaking with your ophthalmologist can help clarify your laser eye surgery treatment options and help you achieve optimal results.

We look forward to hearing from you

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