Two people looking at the trees from a top of the hill

Thinking of having laser eye surgery – Your questions answered

Whether you’re considering laser eye surgery or already have an appointment date booked, understanding as much as you can about the process will help to put your mind at ease. This helpful blog will answer some of the most common questions about laser eye treatment, aftercare and recovery. However, it is important to note that this information does not replace the individualised information that would be provided by a specialist Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon.

Can I have both eyes treated on the same day?

Yes, you can have both eyes treated at the same time.

What does laser eye surgery involve?

Laser eye surgery involves precise reshaping of the cornea to correct focus. Depending on the type of laser treatment, this is done with either an excimer laser and/or a femtosecond laser.

What are the different types of surgery?

SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a keyhole laser procedure in which a contact lens shaped small disc of corneal tissue is removed through a small incision. SMILE is a minimally invasive procedure that is currently restricted to short-sighted prescriptions and astigmatism.

LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) – The most common procedure in the UK, treats long and short-sightedness as well as astigmatism. This procedure creates a very thin flap in the front part of the cornea using a femtosecond laser. This is followed by excimer laser treatment under the protective flap.

Surface laser treatments: LASEK, PRK & TransPRK. These are all examples of laser applied to the surface of the cornea. The only difference between these treatments is how the skin layer (epithelium) is removed.

LASEK (Laser Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis) involves moving aside the epithelium and then replacing it. PRK (PhotoRefractive Keratectomy) involves removal the epithelium without replacement. TransPRK (Transepithelial PhotoRefractive Keratectomy) is an updated development using modern laser systems that are able to remove the skin layer as part of the reshaping treatment.

How long will I take to recover?

This will depend on the individual and type of procedure carried out, but generally:

  • With LASIK & SMILE vision can start to recover within a few hours. Most patients achieve good vision the following day.
  • With LASEK, PRK & TransPRK vision improves over a week or so. Most patients need a week off work. Vision continues to improve through the first month.
When can I start playing sports and other activities?

Playing sports (apart from contact sports) is safe after one week, and patients can fly within a few days. Swimming is best avoided for one week Most contact sports are safe after one month.

What are the side effects?

Common temporary side effects include dry eyes, sensitivity to light, variable vision and glare/light scatter when driving in the dark.

  • Artificial tears can help with dry eyes
  • Most minor side effects settle within a few days to a few weeks
  • Serious complications such as infection are rare (1 in 5,000 cases)
Can I drive home after the surgery?

No. Vision is typically at driving standard a day after LASIK or SMILE and a week after other types of laser vision correction surgery. Driving home on the day of surgery is not recommended.

How quickly can I go back to work?

This depends on your job and the environment you work in. Office work is usually possible a day or two after your surgery with LASIK or SMILE and a week after LASEK, PRK or TransPRK

The benefits of choosing Moorfields Private Eye Hospital

You can trust in Moorfields Private for laser eye surgery excellence. We deliver the best quality of care, with the most experienced surgeons and state-of the art equipment that is frequently upgraded to deliver the best results. All our consultants hold accredited consultant positions at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. You can choose your preferred consultant surgeon for your laser eye surgery, who will oversee every step of your treatment plan, from you initial consultation to your follow-appointments, for complete continuity.

Gore, Dan

Written in association with

Daniel Gore

Director of Refractive Surgery

Contact the new patient team

Call our new patient team

Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm excluding bank holidays for general enquiries or to book an appointment.

0800 328 3421

Complete our webform

Send us your enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible, usually within one working day

Complete our webform