All modern laser eye surgery procedures produce similar visual results. The main difference between the categories outlined below is speed of recovery and time off work.
Your specialist consultant surgeon will discuss each of the procedures in more detail with you at your first consultation, when they will advise which will best suit your individual needs.
This is the most commonly performed laser eye treatment. For LASIK, two different types of laser are used. First, a femtosecond laser creates a thin protective layer by tracing a 3D pattern of tiny gas bubbles through the corneal tissue. This hinged layer is lifted back by the surgeon before an excimer laser reshapes the cornea to correct focus. The protective flap is then replaced to complete the procedure.
After approximately 3-6 hours, the surface cell layer heals around the edge of the flap and sight begins to improve. By the day after surgery, most people are able to see well enough to work and drive a car.
Surface laser treatment (LASEK and TransPRK)
Surface laser treatments are performed directly beneath the clear skin layer of the cornea (the corneal epithelium), which is removed by the laser (TransPRK) or the surgeon (LASEK) before laser reshaping to correct vision. Visual recovery is slower than for LASIK because it takes the skin layer a few days to grow back and a few weeks to smooth off optically. Surface laser treatments are often the best option for patients with thinner corneas.
Once the surface cell layer has healed, the vision starts to improve and typically reaches the driving standard in 1-4 weeks after surgery, depending on the prescription treated. Most patients require a week off work after surgery.