Types of Laser Eye Surgery

29 April 2024

By Author: Amir Hamid

The Types of Laser Eye Surgery

There are three different types of laser eye surgery: LASIK, LASEK, and SMILE.

While not many vision correction clinics in the UK offer all three, the dedicated eye hospitals and experienced surgeons at Optegra offer all three, so you can choose the one that is most suitable for your personal circumstances.


SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is the latest laser eye surgery used to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia).  Described as minimally invasive, in SMILE, a femtosecond laser is used to create a thin, disc-shaped lenticule within the cornea, which is then removed through a small incision, reshaping the cornea and correcting the refractive error.

Patients may opt for SMILE because it offers advantages over other procedures like LASIK and LASEK, like faster recovery times, fewer dry eye symptoms, and a reduced risk of complications like flap dislocation.

Additionally, SMILE may be suitable for patients with thinner corneas or those engaged in activities where corneal strength is crucial, such as contact sports.



LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) is a popular refractive surgical procedure used to correct common vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), wavefront abnormalities, and astigmatism.

LASIK is best known for treating a range of refractive errors due to its ability to reshape the cornea to improve visual acuity precisely. It’s particularly effective for:

Myopia (nearsightedness): LASIK reduces the cornea’s curvature, allowing distant objects to come into focus for individuals with myopia.

Hyperopia (farsightedness): LASIK can steepen the cornea, enabling light rays to focus directly on the retina, thus correcting hyperopia.

Wavefront Abnormalities: LASIK can address higher-order aberrations or irregularities in the optical system of the eye, improving overall visual quality. Learn more about the wavefront laser correction process on our blog.

Astigmatism: LASIK can reshape the cornea to correct irregularities in its curvature, thereby addressing astigmatism and providing clearer vision at all distances.

LASIK’s precision, effectiveness, and relatively quick recovery time have made it one of the most popular and widely performed refractive surgeries for correcting vision problems. It offers many individuals the opportunity to reduce or eliminate their dependence on contact lenses or glasses.



LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) is a type of laser eye surgery used to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASEK creates a thin epithelium flap (outer layer of the cornea) using an alcohol solution or a specialised instrument. The flap is lifted, and the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped using an excimer laser. After the reshaping, the flap is repositioned.

Patients may opt for LASEK instead of LASIK due to factors such as thinner corneas, a higher risk of eye trauma, or a preference for a procedure that preserves more of the corneal tissue. Additionally, LASEK may be recommended for individuals who are involved in contact sports or have jobs that involve a higher risk of eye injury.


Comparing LASIK, LASEK, and ReLEx Smile

Here is how each of the laser treatments works and their different characteristics and considerations:


  • Involves creating a flap in the cornea using a microkeratome or femtosecond laser.
  • Reshapes the underlying corneal tissue using an excimer laser.
  • Suitable for correcting refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
  • Typically offers rapid visual recovery and minimal discomfort.


  • Involves lifting a thin flap of the epithelium (outer layer of the cornea) using an alcohol solution or a specialised instrument.
  • Reshapes the corneal tissue beneath the epithelial flap using an excimer laser.
  • Suitable for patients with thinner corneas or a higher risk of eye trauma.
  • May result in longer recovery times compared to LASIK.


  • Involves creating a thin, disc-shaped lenticule within the cornea using a femtosecond laser, which is then removed through a small incision.
  • Reshapes the cornea to correct myopia.
  • Offers advantages such as a smaller incision size, a potentially faster recovery, and a reduced risk of complications like flap dislocation.
  • Suitable for patients with thinner corneas or those engaged in activities where corneal strength is crucial.

It’s important to note that there is also a difference in pricing between LASIK, LASEK, and SMILE. At Optegra, we offer 0% finance options for up to 24 months to help break down the cost of your treatment to affordable monthly installments. 


How to Decide on the Best Laser Eye Surgery Type for You

Deciding which type of laser eye surgery might suit your lifestyle and vision goals best can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, a free virtual consultation with an Optegra expert can help you discuss your specific requirements and discover the treatment that may be best for you.


Why Choose Optegra?

At Optegra, our dedicated eye hospitals and world-renowned surgeons are the supreme choice in vision correction. Book a free consultation today.

Amir Hamid Headshot

By Author: Amir Hamid

Mr. Amir Hamid is a Clinical Lead for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.

Medically Reviewed Date: 29th April 2024


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