Other types of surgery to correct a refractive error

LASIK is the most common type of laser eye surgery, but it not suitable for everyone. Your surgeon may recommend alternative procedures including:

Alternative laser techniques

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
This is a similar process to LASIK but with PRK, the surface of the cornea is completely removed (rather than creating a flap).  It may be recommended for people whose cornea is not thick enough for LASIK. PRK is associated with moderate to severe pain, although this varies significantly from person to person.  A protective contact lens has to be worn for up to a week and it takes 2-4 weeks for good sight to be restored.  In uncomplicated cases it usually takes 1-3 months for vision to stabilise completely. You should expect to allow at least a week’s recovery before returning to work after PRK.

LASEK (Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy)
LASEK is similar to PRK, but the surface of the cornea is replaced at the end of the procedure.  LASEK is generally less painful than PRK, but it is also associated with light sensitivity.  A protective contact lens is needed for a few days and it can take 3-6 days for good sight to be restored.  In uncomplicated cases it usually takes 1-4 weeks for vision to stabilise completely.  You should expect to allow 3-6 days of recovery time before returning to work after LASEK.

LTK (Laser Thermal Keratoplasty)
A ring of small spots of heat are applied around the cornea to reshape it.  LTK can only be used to correct mild long sightedness and results may be temporary.

Non-laser surgical techniques

RK (Radical Keratotomy)
This was one of the earliest techniques used to correct short sight, but it is rarely used today. It involved making shallow radial cuts into the cornea around the pupil.

CLE (Clear lens extraction)
Unlike laser techniques that correct vision by changing the shape of the cornea, CLE corrects vision by removing the natural crystalline lens and replacing it with a new intraocular synthetic lens implant.

PIOL (Phakic intraocular lens implant)
A PIOL is a synthetic lens that is inserted inside the eye correcting vision. The natural lens is not removed and the synthetic lens is placed behind the iris in front of the natural lens.