Understanding the options for Laser Eye Surgery

Nowadays, we are privileged (or cursed?) with far more options than we could ever really need for almost everything in our lives. It can be hard enough to decide which TV show to binge, or which bottle of wine to buy – never mind which of the seemingly endless options for Laser Eye Surgery treatments is right for you.

Laser Eye Surgery can be a daunting prospect in any circumstances, and being bombarded with jargon-filled terms and confusing acronyms is sure to make the process even more intimidating. But, while it may seem like there are too many options to choose from, there are really only three procedures you need to worry about.

Fancy terms like UltraLASIK, Zyoptix, and Accu-wave LASIK are conjured up by high-street clinics to attract attention and bring more , unknowing customers, through the door. But many of these names refer to the same procedure – much like how brands use different names for the same product to help them stand out from the crowd!

Nonetheless, this still creates a confusing landscape, making it difficult to fully understand what you will be getting with Laser Eye Surgery. Depending on the clinic, you could be faced with up to a dozen treatment options (complete with different prices and confusing terms). But fear not, we’re here to help.

There are really only three Laser Eye Surgery treatment methods: PRK/LASEK, LASIK, and ReLEx SMILE.

PRK/LASEK

PRK and LASEK – known as ‘surface procedures’ – are the original, and so the oldest, forms of Laser Eye Surgery Treatment. First developed in the 1980s, PRK and LASEK involve the complete removal of an area of epithelium to allow access to the corneal bed. Once the laser correction is completed, this area is then put back in place and covered with a soft contact lens which promotes healing and regeneration of the epithelial cells.

It can take up to a week for the cornea to fully heal following a surface procedure. During this time, the patient may experience some discomfort and mild irritation, as well as relatively blurry vision. While some surgeons may prefer surface treatments, PRK/LASEK is now usually reserved for patients who are not suitable for LASIK treatment.

LASIK

As Laser Eye Surgery technology began to evolve, LASIK soon replaced PRK/LASEK as the go-to treatment option for the majority of refractory issues. In fact, most treatments today are still based on LASIK surgery, with over 95 per cent of patients being eligible for the procedure.

LASIK surgery is less invasive than its parent technique as it doesn’t require the complete removal of the epithelium. Instead, surgeons create a tiny circular flap in the surface layer of the cornea which allows access to the corneal bed. This flap is then simply put back in place following the procedure. Both comfort and healing time are therefore reduced as only the edges of the flap need to heal.

ReLEx SMILE

Finally, the latest and most advanced of Laser Eye Surgery treatments – ReLEx SMILE. This minimally invasive procedure represented the start of the new era of Laser Eye Surgery, with shorter recovery times and peak comfort levels.

In SMILE procedures, none of the epithelium needs to be removed at all. Instead, a series of pulses are sent into the cornea using a state-of-the-art Carl Zeiss VisuMax laser. This creates a small connecting tunnel from the surface of the eye to the corneal bed, through which tissue can be drawn out – in other words, creating a keyhole access.

ReLEx SMILE procedures are so un-invasive that they are often completed in a matter of minutes, with patients also experiencing minimal discomfort. Furthermore, healing time is similar to that of LASIK procedures and patients can expect to experience 100 per cent vision quality in just a few days.

If you’d like to find out more about any of the Laser Eye Surgery options above, speak with one of our friendly Patient Care Coordinators. 

Our Fees start from £5,500 for standard treatment. Higher or very complex prescriptions may cost up to £6,900. Flexible finance makes the best more affordable: Choose payments from £56 per month, or a low 10% upfront. Payment plans from one to five years are available including a 24-month interest-free option. Read more.