The 3 Types of Laser Eye Surgery

Laser refractive surgery, or laser eye surgery, has become increasingly popular and is constantly advancing with new technology. If you’re looking to get rid of glasses and contacts, there are three types of laser eye surgeries that are available. All three of these laser refractive surgeries have one thing in common, and that is that they’re reshaping the front part of the eye called the cornea. .

What to Expect During the Procedure

  1. PRK was the first laser refractive surgery, and it’s still performed today. During PRK laser eye surgery, the ophthalmologist removes the epithelium (the surface of the eye) and applies an excimer laser to resurface, blade or vaporize the tissue on the surface of the cornea. There’s a much longer recovery time after the PRK procedure as compared to SMILE or LASIK. Patients require a bandaged contact lens, because the epithelium has been removed. It can take six to eight weeks for your vision to fully recover after PRK laser eye surgery.
  2. During the LASIK procedure, the eye surgeon uses a thin blade laser to cut a flap of the cornea instead of removing the epithelium. The ophthalmologist lifts the flap up, applies the excimer laser to reshape the cornea and puts the flap back down.
  3. SMILE involves using a femtosecond laser to cut a little wafer of tissue inside the cornea and remove it through a very small incision.

With SMILE and LASIK laser eye procedures, the recovery time is shorter with minimal pain or discomfort. You may experience slight dryness and irritation, but usually these symptoms don’t last long.

How Can Patients Take Control of Their Health?

  • Schedule regular eye exams with your optometrist.
  • If you’ve undergone laser eye surgery, attend all follow-up appointments with your eye health provider.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes – especially after the LASIK procedure, as it can affect the flap the ophthalmologist created.
  • Your eyes may be more sensitive to light after laser refractive surgery, so wear your sunglasses.
  • If you smoke, quit. It increases your risk of developing certain eye conditions.


Talk to your optometrist if you want more information on PRK, LASIK or SMILE.