Refractive Laser Eye Surgery - PRK, Lasik and SMILE

Dr. Baseer Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO, Ophthalmologist, discusses the different types of refractive laser eye surgery to correct vision.

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Dr. Baseer Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO, Ophthalmologist, discusses the different types of refractive laser eye surgery to correct vision.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Baseer Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO, Ophthalmologist

Duration: 3 minutes, 13 seconds

Laser refractive surgery is a really exciting area with constant advancement and technology. There are three types of laser eye surgeries that are available today to try to remove glasses. All three of them have one thing in common, and that is that they’re reshaping the cornea, which is the front part of the eye.

The oldest or the first laser refractive surgery was called PRK. PRK, we remove the epithelium or the surface of the eye, and then we apply an excimer laser to resurface or blade or vaporize the tissue on the surface of the cornea to reshape the cornea.

The second surgery is called LASIK. And LASIK, instead of removing the epithelium what we do is that we use a really thin blade or most commonly a laser, a femto laser, to cut a very thin flap of the cornea, lift the flap up, apply the excimer laser to reshape the cornea and put the flap back down.

The third surgery is called SMILE. SMILE involves using a femtosecond laser, a cutting laser, to actually cut a little wafer of tissue inside the cornea and then take it out through a very small, two millimetre incision.

For patients having PRK, there’s a much longer healing period as compared to SMILE or LASIK. These patients require a bandaged contact lens, because otherwise their eye would be very painful after having the epithelium or the skin removed.

It often takes about six to eight weeks for the vision to fully recover after PRK, and they can have a certain amount of haze as a result of the healing over the short period of time, which eventually will go away.

SMILE and LASIK, because they’re leaving the front surface of the eye intact, often have a very quick visual recovery with very minimal pain or discomfort. There can still be a little bit of dryness and irritation in the short period of time, but these patients generally recover very quickly.

The most important thing that a doctor will look for in assessing a patient for laser refractive surgery is to make sure that their cornea is thick enough and that they don’t have any abnormal curvatures that could indicate another problem in the cornea called keratoconus.

In those patients, laser eye surgery should never be done, and they may need other therapies or treatments to treat their eyes. In the absence of any eye conditions like keratoconus or otherwise, somebody with a prescription of +3 to about -10 is a candidate for laser eye surgery.

Laser eye surgery is the safest surgery performed by medicine today. There’s a small risk that you could develop some dry eyes, some glare and halos, an exceedingly small risk that you could get an infection, but by and large, the vast majority of patients experience great vision, if not better than 20/20, after having had any of these surgeries.

Presenter: Dr. Baseer Khan, Ophthalmologist, Vaughan, ON

Local Practitioners: Ophthalmologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.