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Laser eye surgery, or laser vision correction, is a procedure in which a laser is used to reshape the front surface of the cornea of your eyes so that you can focus and see better. The cornea is the clear window-like structure at the front of the eye. 

Laser surgery can correct short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. Almost anyone who is over 18 years old is likely to be suitable for treatment, depending on how high the prescription is, the thickness of the cornea and the shape of the cornea. In addition, your eye prescription must have remained stable for 18 months. 

Broadly, there are three types of laser eye surgery; LASIK, advanced surface laser ablation (also known as ASLA) and SMILE. All three procedures have very similar outcomes but significant differences in how they are performed and the recovery period. 

Benefits of laser eye surgery

Laser eye surgery can improve your vision, most usually to driving standards within 24 hours. The quality of vision often exceeds that achieved with spectacles or contact lenses, particularly for higher prescriptions and astigmatism. 

Laser vision correction can provide you with freedom from glasses and contact lenses, allowing you to enjoy your active lifestyle without the hassle of spectacles and the risks of contact lens wear. The long-term risks of contact lens-associated infection, dry eye, and intolerance can be avoided permanently. You can wake up with a clear vision and enjoy the outdoors with your new designer sunglasses. 

What is LASIK?

LASIK is the most widely known laser vision correction procedure. It has been performed for over 30 years with over 40 million procedures worldwide. Often the terms LASIK and laser eye surgery are used synonymously. LASIK involves the use of an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and match its refractive power to your prescription.  This is preceded by the creation of a corneal flap, a thin superficial layer of tissue; nowadays this is created with the use of a femtosecond laser, allowing great precision and safety.

What is Advanced Surface Laser Ablation “(ASLA)”

LASEK or ASLA is very similar to LASIK. Its use in the form of PRK predates that of LASIK. The principles are very similar to LASIK, involving the use of an excimer laser to change the refractive power of the cornea. Prior to this the most superficial layer of the cornea, the epithelium, is removed. This is achieved either with the use of a weak alcohol solution that loosens the epithelium or the excimer laser. The epithelium then heals over the 2-3 days following the procedure. 

What is SMILE?

ReLEx SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction) is a keyhole laser vision correction procedure. It is a well-established refractive procedure that represents one of the latest developments in laser vision correction. Four million procedures have been performed over the past 10 years. It involves the creation and removal of a lenticule of tissue from within the cornea with the use of a femtosecond laser. This is minimally invasive as it is performed through a small 3 mm incision and opening of the cornea. Due to its keyhole nature, it does not involve the creation of a corneal flap.

What are the differences between LASIK and ASLA?

What are the differences between LASIK and SMILE?


As you can see, there isn’t really a “best” procedure since it depends entirely on your circumstances. In some cases, LASIK is the best option. In others SMILE. And in different situations, ASLA/ASA could be the right choice for you. That’s why it’s important to consult a specialise laser eye surgeon who can point you in the right direction. To find out if you’re suitable and discover which procedure is best for you, book a free screening today by clicking here.

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