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LASIK or SURFACE laser eye surgery: Which is right for me?

Published on 11th December 2019

There are two types of laser eye surgery that can be used to correct your vision: LASIK and SURFACE (sometimes referred to as LASEK or Trans Epithelial PRK). Both use precise pulses of UV light in a surgical procedure which helps to treat shortsightedness, longsightedness and astigmatism. But what are the differences, and which is the right treatment for you?

LASIK treatment

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is the most popular treatment option due to its quicker recovery times. During LASIK treatment, a very thin flap is created on the surface of the eye. This flap is then lifted and a laser is used to correct your vision. The flap, once repositioned, then almost immediately adheres to the underlying corneal tissue and begins to heal.

SURFACE treatment

During a SURFACE treatment, the layer of cells on the surface of your eyes (known as the epithelium) are either gently displaced or removed, giving the surgeon access to the layer of your cornea which is treated with the laser. A protective contact lens is then applied to help your eyes heal, which is removed three or four days later. The recovery time for a SURFACE treatment is longer than with LASIK, but may be a better choice if you have thin corneas or a medical condition that makes LASIK impossible.

Differences between LASIK and SURFACE

Below, we compare some of the key differences between LASIK and SURFACE laser eye surgery. However your surgeon will discuss both treatments with you at your initial consultation so you can make an informed decision about which is the appropriate option for you.


Return to useful vision

1 - 2 days4 - 7 days
Post-op discomfort1 - 8 hours (if any)2 - 3 days
Time of work1 - 2 days3 - 4 days
Treatable prescription for myopia (shortsightedness)Up to -10.00DUp to -10.00D
Treatable prescription for hyperopia (longsightedness)Up to +6.00DUp to +6.00D
Anaesthetic usedEye dropsEye drops
Treatment time10 mins per eye10 mins per eye
Both eyes treated togetherYesYes, but dependent on
the advice of your surgeon
Steroid eye drops use after treatment1 weekUp to 4 weeks


When it comes to deciding which treatment would be the most appropriate for you, the best option is always to book a no-obligation consultation so that you can discuss each treatment with your surgeon.

They will assess your eyes and vision, talk you through each treatment type, and advise you on which would be the most effective for you. At this point you can also ask any questions you might have, to ensure you are able to make an informed decision. For full details of what happens at a laser eye surgery consultation, read our previous blog here.

If you’re considering laser eye correction and would like to meet with an opthamologist to discuss your options further, give our friendly patient advisors a call on 01204 387467.

Or book a consultation at Visualase’s central Bolton clinic by completing the form below, or on our contact page here.


All eye surgical procedures carry a level of risk including not obtaining the desired outcome, through to varying levels of visual loss. Your eye surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits, including ones specific to your circumstances, at the time of your pre-operative consultation.