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Corrective Eye Surgery: Understanding the Options

Corrective eye surgery, also known as refractive surgery, is a surgical procedure that aims to correct various eye conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

These conditions can affect a person’s ability to see clearly, which can cause difficulty in performing daily activities such as reading, driving, and working. Corrective eye surgery can be an effective solution for those who are tired of relying on glasses or contact lenses. In this article, we will discuss the different options for corrective eye surgery and how they work.

Types of Corrective Eye Surgery

There are several types of corrective eye surgery, but the most common ones are LASIK, PRK, and SMILE. Each of these surgeries has its own benefits and risks, so it is important to understand them before making a decision.(1)


LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a popular type of corrective eye surgery that uses a laser to reshape the cornea. During the procedure, the surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea, which is then lifted to expose the underlying tissue. The laser is then used to reshape the cornea, after which the flap is placed back in its original position.(2)

LASIK is a relatively quick procedure that usually takes less than 30 minutes per eye. Most patients experience little to no pain during the procedure and can resume normal activities within a day or two. However, there are some risks associated with LASIK, including dry eyes, glare, and halos around lights.(2)


PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is another type of corrective eye surgery that uses a laser to reshape the cornea. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not involve creating a flap in the cornea. Instead, the top layer of the cornea is removed, after which the laser is used to reshape the cornea. The removed tissue then regenerates over time.(1,3)

PRK is a good option for those who have thin corneas or other conditions that make LASIK unsuitable. The procedure takes longer than LASIK, and the recovery period is also longer, usually taking a week or two. However, PRK has a lower risk of complications, such as dry eyes and halos, compared to LASIK.(1,3)


SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a relatively new type of corrective eye surgery that uses a laser to create a small incision in the cornea, after which a small piece of tissue is removed to reshape the cornea. SMILE is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require the creation of a flap, making it less invasive than LASIK and PRK. The recovery time is also faster, usually taking only a few days.(4)

SMILE is a good option for those with mild to moderate myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. However, it is not suitable for those with severe myopia or other eye conditions.(4)


LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) is a type of laser eye surgery that is used to correct mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It is a less invasive alternative to LASIK that involves lifting a thin layer of the outermost corneal tissue (epithelium) before reshaping the underlying cornea with an excimer laser. After reshaping, the epithelium is replaced and a soft contact lens is placed on the eye to act as a protective bandage. Recovery time for LASEK is typically longer than LASIK, and the final visual outcome may take longer to achieve.(5)


ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens) is a type of refractive surgery that involves the insertion of a small, foldable lens into the eye to correct vision. It is an option for those who are not suitable for LASIK or other laser eye surgeries due to thin corneas or high levels of refractive error. The lens is placed behind the iris and in front of the eye’s natural lens, and is designed to remain in place permanently. ICL is a reversible procedure, meaning the lens can be removed if necessary. Recovery time is typically shorter than LASIK, and visual outcomes are often excellent.(6)

Risks and Complications of Corrective Eye Surgery

All types of corrective eye surgery have some risks and complications. These risks can vary depending on the type of surgery you choose. Some of the most common risks and complications of corrective eye surgery include(1):

  • Dry eyes
  • Night vision problems
  • Starbursts or halos around lights
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity

In rare cases, more serious complications can occur, such as infection, scarring, and loss of vision.

Recovery Time from Corrective Eye Surgery

The recovery time from corrective eye surgery varies depending on the type of surgery you choose. Most people are able to return to their normal activities within a few days or weeks of surgery. However, some people may need to take more time off from work or school to recover.(1)

Cost of Corrective Eye Surgery

The cost of corrective eye surgery varies depending on the type of surgery you choose, the surgeon you choose, and your location. In general, corrective eye surgery is a cost-effective way to improve your vision and eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.(1)

Choosing the Right Option

Choosing the right corrective eye surgery option depends on several factors, including your eye condition, age, and lifestyle. It is important to discuss your options with an experienced ophthalmologist who can help you make an informed decision.

Before the surgery, the ophthalmologist will conduct a thorough eye examination to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. This will include measuring your cornea, checking your eye pressure, and assessing your overall eye health.

Once you have decided on the procedure, the ophthalmologist will explain the risks and benefits, as well as the recovery process. You will need to take some time off work to allow your eyes to heal, and you may experience some discomfort, such as dry eyes, during the recovery period.(1)


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). What is refractive surgery? [Online] Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/refractive-surgery-what-is [Accessed 9 May 2023].
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2022). LASIK eye surgery. [Online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lasik-eye-surgery/about/pac-20384661 [Accessed 9 May 2023].
  3. American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. (2022). Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK). [Online] Available at: https://ascrs.org/news/photorefractive-keratectomy-prk [Accessed 9 May 2023].
  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). What is SMILE laser eye surgery? [Online] Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/smile-laser-eye-surgery [Accessed 9 May 2023].
  5. American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. (2022). LASEK. [Online] Available at: https://ascrs.org/news/lasek [Accessed 9 May 2023].
  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL). [Online] Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/implantable-collamer-lens-icl [Accessed 9 May 2023].
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 12, 2023

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