Lasik vs Lasek

What is the difference between Lasik and Lasek laser eye surgery?

If you’ve decided you want to enjoy all the benefits of improved vision, you may be wondering which type of laser eye surgery is best suited for you. LASIK and LASEK are the most common types of laser eye procedure we perform at Moorfields Private. With this handy guide, you can understand the difference between LASIK and LASEK, with our expert consultants offering further guidance on which procedure is most suitable for you.

LASIK eye surgery

What is LASIK eye surgery?

LASIK surgery is the most commonly performed type of laser eye surgery. The procedure involves reshaping the cornea to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. The surgery takes approximately 15 minutes and is pain-free.

Local anaesthetic drops will numb your eye completely before the procedure. Your surgeon will then use two different types of laser. The first one is a femtosecond laser which creates a thin protective flap in the cornea. It does this by tracing a 3D pattern of small gas bubbles within the corneal tissue. During this part of the procedure, lasting less than minute, patients may experience pressure on their eye.

The surgeon will then lift back this hinged layer and use an excimer laser to reshape the underlying tissue to correct the focus of the eye. The hinged layer is then smoothed back without the need for stitches. The procedure is typically complete within 15 minutes for both eyes with little if any discomfort.

After LASIK treatment

Following LASIK surgery, you may experience between 4-6 hours of discomfort. Your surgeon will advise you on aftercare and provide you with any take-home medication. You should rest your eyes, limit screen time in the first 24 hours after your surgery and avoiding rubbing them. You may be provided with a pair of protective googles to wear the first night.

If you are driving to your appointment, you will need to arrange someone else to drive you home. You will not be able to drive until your surgeon confirms your vision meets the legal driving standard in your post-operative consultation, typically scheduled the following day.

LASEK eye surgery

What is LASEK eye surgery?

LASEK surgery is a surface laser treatment which is performed on the surface of the cornea. This makes it a more suitable option than LASIK for patients with thin corneas or certain medical conditions.

Eye-drop anaesthetic is administered to ensure the procedure is painless and dilute alcohol is applied to the eye to help loosen the top skin layer (epithelium) which is then brushed away by the surgeon. Unlike LASIK, only the excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue. The whole process should take around 10 minutes for both eyes.

Once the surgeon has completed the laser treatment, a special contact lens will be applied to help protect the eye and increase your comfort during the recovery process. This will be removed towards the end of the first week after surgery.

After LASEK surgery

For the first 24 hours after LASEK treatment, patients may experience moderate discomfort in their eye and sensitivity to light. This is normal and your surgeon will prescribe painkilling drops and tablets to help during this period. You will also be instructed to take antibiotic and steroid drops to aid with the healing.

It takes around a week for the surface skin layer (epithelium) to heal. Initially you can expect your vision to be blurred, with improvements typically noticeable from mid-way through the first week. The full LASEK recovery process takes several weeks as the surface of the eyes becomes smoother and the vision stabilises. Most patients need to take a week off work after LASEK.

You can return home after your LASEK treatment but, just as with LASIK, you will need to arrange transportation home from the appointment, as you will not be able to drive until your vision meets the legal driving standard.

Should I choose LASIK or LASEK eye surgery?

LASIK and LASEK both use excimer lasers to reshape part of the cornea to correct long-sightedness, short-sightedness and astigmatism. Both will achieve the same final vision result, but the recovery differs between these two procedures.

The benefit of LASIK is the shorter healing time than a surface laser treatment like LASEK. This is because, during LASEK surgery, the surgeon needs to remove the surface skin layer at the front of the eye to reshape the tissue beneath. This is then regrows over a period of a week or so during which your vision gradually improves.

Transepithelial PRK (TransPRK), a newer version of LASEK, is a ‘no-touch’ technique for surface laser treatments in which the laser light is applied directly to the surface of the eye without the need to remove the surface layer manually. TransPRK treatments are quicker than LASEK, with both eyes completed in under 10 minutes. Vision recovery after LASEK or TransPRK is slower compared with LASIK, and the first 24 hours can be painful.

Who is suitable for LASIK and LASEK eye surgery?

Most people are suitable for LASIK surgery but some may find they are not due to pre-existing conditions or unique characteristics of their eye. LASEK may be recommended for those with pre-existing medical conditions, thinner corneas, or higher prescriptions for short-sightedness. Your surgeon will discuss your options with you during your initial consultation.

As a general guide, to be suitable for LASIK, you should;

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a stable prescription and healthy eyes
  • Be in general good health, and not suffering from conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts or a herpes infection in the eye
  • Not be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Not be taking certain prescription drugs, which your consultant surgeon will discuss with you

Your prescription should be;

  • Up to +3 to +4 if you are long-sighted
  • Up to -10 if you are short-sighted
  • Up to -6D if you have astigmatism

How much does laser eye surgery cost?

Initial consultation


The initial consultation fee is £195. The full cost of your onward treatment will be confirmed once you have agreed your personalised plan with your consultant.



The package price for the laser eye surgery is £5,195 for both eyes, which includes post-operative eye drops to take home on the day of surgery, follow-up appointments up to three-months, and our 5 year commitment.

Why choose Moorfields Private over low-cost providers?

There are now many providers offering low-cost laser eye surgery and advertising low starting prices.

Laser eye surgery is a safe and effective procedure. But it is also irreversible and – like all medical procedures - carries some risk. We don’t cut corners. We don’t pressure you into having surgery quickly. We don’t conduct the surgery unless we are sure it’s right for you. And if laser eye surgery isn’t for you, then we’ll discuss other vision correction options with you.

We offer impartial, expert advice from some of the leading ophthalmologists in the world. Our expert teams use the latest technology and take their time to deliver you the best results. Your consultant will see you throughout your journey, including for the initial consultation and tests where you can expect to be with us for two hours.

None of this be done ‘on the cheap’.

Our pricing is transparent, fair, and fixed. No hidden extras. No upsells. The price you see is the price you pay, regardless of the type of laser eye surgery you have. Your vision is invaluable, and we believe that it is worth investing in Moorfields assured quality. 

Find out more about our 5 year commitment to you and our package pricing.

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