When it comes to improving our vision, laser eye surgery can be a life-changing solution. Imagine a world where you no longer rely on glasses or contact lenses to see clearly. This comprehensive guide dives into laser eye surgery, exploring its purpose, different types, candidacy requirements, costs, potential risks, and how to choose the right surgeon. But first, let’s address the question: what is laser eye surgery?

Key Takeaways

  • Laser eye surgery is a procedure to improve vision and reduce dependence on corrective eyewear.

  • It is important to consult an eye surgeon for eligibility and to understand the risks and costs associated with laser eye surgery.

  • Choosing the right eye surgeon requires careful research of their experience, credentials, and success rates.

Understanding Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery, or refractive surgery, LASIK eye surgery (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) or LASIK procedure, is a popular alternative to wearing glasses or contact lenses. This revolutionary procedure has helped millions worldwide achieve clearer vision and reduce their dependence on corrective eyewear.

Before you decide if laser eye surgery is the right choice, familiarize yourself with its purpose, workings, and the various types available.

Purpose of Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery, also known as laser vision correction, aims to correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism by altering the shape of the cornea. The cornea is paramount as it determines how light enters the eye and focuses on the retina. By modifying the cornea’s curvature, laser eye surgery can improve the way light is refracted onto the retina, leading to clearer vision.

If you’re battling corneal astigmatism, laser eye surgery can offer considerable relief by meticulously reshaping the cornea with a precise laser beam.

How Laser Eye Surgery Works

Laser eye surgery involves using a precise laser to remove a small amount of corneal tissue, ultimately changing the cornea’s shape and improving vision. The specific type of laser used may differ depending on the procedure, with common types including the excimer laser, femtosecond laser, and photorefractive laser.

A thin flap is first created on the cornea to target the corneal tissue accurately during surgery to allow access to the laser. The laser removes the desired amount of tissue, achieving the optimal patient vision outcome.

This advanced technology has helped countless individuals reduce or eliminate their need for glasses or contact lenses.

Types of Laser Eye Surgery

While LASIK is the most well-known type of laser eye surgery, other options like PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction) may be more suitable for certain individuals based on their specific needs and eye conditions.

LASIK involves creating a corneal flap and reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser, while PRK removes the epithelium, the top layer of the cornea, before using lasers to alter the cornea’s shape.

On the other hand, SMILE utilizes a femtosecond laser to create a small lenticule within the cornea, which is then extracted through a minimal incision, all while guided by precise light rays.

Determining Candidacy for Laser Eye Surgery

To qualify for laser eye surgery, you must satisfy certain criteria, such as specific age bracket, healthy eyes, and stable vision. A comprehensive eye examination is necessary to determine if a person is an eligible candidate. It’s also important to consider any underlying eye conditions, as they may affect the suitability of laser eye surgery.

We’ll delve into these requirements for a better understanding.

Age Requirements

Age plays a significant role in determining candidacy for laser eye surgery. The typical age range for laser eye surgery candidates is between 18 and 40.

Candidates for LASIK, PRK, and SMILE surgery should be 18 years old to ensure the best possible outcome.

Eye Health Considerations

A prerequisite for qualifying as a laser eye surgery candidate is possessing healthy eyes devoid of diseases, infections, or other conditions. Conditions that may disqualify individuals from being suitable candidates for LASIK surgery include:

However, those with common refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism may typically undergo laser eye surgery if they meet the basic requirements. Always consult with an eye surgeon to determine candidacy based on individual circumstances.

Vision Stability

To qualify for laser eye surgery, you must have stable vision. Candidates should have a stable prescription for at least one year before the procedure. This stability ensures that the surgery can provide accurate and long-lasting vision correction.

Before opting for laser eye surgery, you should consult an eye doctor and undergo an exhaustive eye examination to confirm vision stability and rule out any blurry or blurred vision.

Comparing LASIK and Other Laser Eye Surgeries

Please consult an ophthalmologist to understand which procedure is more suitable for you based on your eye condition and lifestyle.

Although LASIK is the most prevalent type of laser eye surgery, alternatives like PRK and SMILE might be more fitting for some individuals, considering their unique needs and eye health status.

Comparing the pros and cons of LASIK with these other procedures can help prospective patients decide which surgery is best for them.


LASIK and PRK effectively correct vision, but PRK may be a better option for those with thin corneas or other specific eye conditions. The primary distinction between LASIK and PRK is that LASIK requires cutting a flap in the cornea, while PRK does not.

LASIK is generally faster and more comfortable, but PRK may have a lower risk of complications and is not associated with flap-related issues.


LASIK and SMILE are similar in their outcomes, but SMILE is a newer, less invasive procedure that may be more suitable for certain patients.

SMILE surgery involves using a femtosecond laser to create a small incision on the corneal surface and extract a lenticule, which reshapes the cornea to correct refractive errors such as myopia and astigmatism. The procedure leaves the cornea’s surface almost undamaged, leading to a faster recovery time compared to other laser eye surgeries such as LASIK.

Costs and Insurance Coverage

The cost of laser eye surgery can vary depending on the procedure and location, and insurance coverage is typically limited. Understanding the typical costs and insurance implications can help prospective patients decide whether laser eye surgery is the right choice.

Typical Costs of Laser Eye Surgery

The usual cost for laser eye surgery swings between $2,000 and $3,000 per eye, subject to the specific procedure and surgeon’s expertise. Factors that contribute to the cost of laser eye surgery include:

  • The patient’s refractive error

  • The technology used

  • The surgeon’s experience

  • The location of the surgery center.

These factors should be considered when assessing the affordability of laser eye surgery.

Insurance Coverage

Many providers do not cover the cost of laser eye surgery, as they consider it an elective procedure. Insurance coverage for such procedures is usually limited. While some vision insurance policies may offer partial coverage for laser eye surgery, including eye drops and medications, it’s important to contact your insurance provider to determine the extent of coverage for laser eye surgery under your specific policy.

Before you undergo laser eye surgery, comprehend the coverage detailed by your insurance provider.

Potential Risks and Complications

Although laser eye surgery is largely safe, there are potential risks and complications that you should be cognizant of. Understanding these risks can help prospective patients decide whether laser eye surgery is the right choice for them.

Remember, laser eye surgery might not be the ideal solution for everyone. People with certain

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of laser eye surgery include dry eyes, temporary visual disturbances, and discomfort, which usually resolve within a few weeks or months.

Generally, these side effects are temporary, lasting from a few days to several weeks. Discuss these potential side effects with your eye surgeon before the procedure.

Rare Complications

Rare complications of laser eye surgery can include infection, vision loss, or the need for additional corrective procedures. Although these complications are rare, you should be aware of them and express any concerns with your eye surgeon before the procedure.

Proper preoperative evaluations and postoperative care can help minimize the risk of these rare complications.

Choosing the Right Eye Surgeon

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon

Selecting the appropriate eye surgeon is key to a successful laser eye surgery experience. By researching potential surgeons, evaluating their experience and credentials, and considering their success rates, patients can ensure they select a qualified and experienced professional to perform their procedure.

Spend time researching and comparing different surgeons to find the most suitable one.

Researching Surgeons

Researching potential surgeons through recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare professionals, reading reviews, and consulting professional organizations can help ensure you find a qualified and experienced professional.

A comprehensive research and evaluation of potential surgeons can enhance your chances of a successful laser eye surgery outcome.

Evaluating Experience and Credentials

Evaluating a surgeon’s experience, credentials, and success rates can provide insight into their ability to perform the procedure safely and effectively. A competent LASIK surgeon should have:

  • Completed four years of pre-medical undergraduate education

  • Completed four years of medical school

  • Have extensive experience performing LASIK surgery

  • Have a good reputation among prior patients

Considering these factors can aid you in making an informed decision about the ideal surgeon for your laser eye surgery.

Recovery and Post-Procedure Care

Recovery and post-procedure care are important aspects of the laser eye surgery process. Following the surgeon’s instructions and attending follow-up appointments can help ensure a smooth recovery and optimal results.

Immediate Post-Procedure Care

Immediate post-procedure care may include the use of protective eyewear, lubricating eye drops, and follow-up appointments with the surgeon. Adhering to your surgeon’s postoperative care instructions can minimize the risk of complications and pave the way for successful recovery.

This may include avoiding strenuous activities, protecting the eyes from sunlight, and using prescribed eye drops as directed, especially if you wear contact lenses.

Healing Process and Time Off Work

The healing process and time off work will vary depending on the specific procedure, but most patients can expect to return to normal activities within a few days to a week following surgery.

The average duration of the healing process after laser eye surgery is typically estimated to be between 3-6 months, during which time patients should attend regular follow-up appointments to monitor their progress and address any concerns.


In conclusion, laser eye surgery offers a life-changing opportunity for those seeking clearer vision and freedom from glasses or contact lenses. By understanding the various types of procedures, determining candidacy, comparing costs and insurance coverage, and carefully selecting an experienced eye surgeon, patients can embark on a journey towards improved vision and a better quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dice with FAQS written on them

1. What is laser eye surgery?

Laser eye surgery is a type of refractive surgery where an eye surgeon uses lasers to reshape the cornea – the clear front part of the eye – to improve or correct vision problems. This procedure can correct conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

2. How does laser eye surgery work?

Laser eye surgery works by reshaping the cornea, allowing light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina. The surgeon uses a special type of laser to remove corneal tissue, effectively changing the shape of the cornea and improving vision.

3. What are the different types of laser eye surgery?

There are several types of laser eye surgery, including LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), and LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis). Each type has different procedures and recovery times, and the best option depends on the individual’s eye condition and lifestyle.

4. Is laser eye surgery painful?

Most patients report feeling minimal discomfort during and after the surgery. Anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the eyes before the procedure. After the surgery, some patients may experience dry eyes or minor irritation, but these are usually temporary.

5. What is the recovery time after laser eye surgery?

The recovery time varies depending on the type of laser eye surgery. For LASIK, most people can return to work within a few days. For PRK and LASEK, recovery may take a week or more. Full visual recovery and stabilization can take several weeks.

6. Are there any risks or side effects associated with laser eye surgery?

As with any surgery, there are potential risks and side effects. These may include dry eyes, glare, seeing halos around lights, difficulty driving at night, and fluctuating vision. Serious complications are rare but can include infection or vision loss.

7. Who is a good candidate for laser eye surgery?

Ideal candidates for laser eye surgery are at least 18 years old, have had stable vision for at least a year, and have no health issues affecting their eyes. They should not be pregnant or nursing, and have no history of corneal disease.

8. Is laser eye surgery permanent?

In most cases, the results of laser eye surgery are permanent. However, vision can still change naturally over time due to age or other health factors. Some people may need a follow-up procedure or may choose to wear glasses or contacts for certain activities.

9. How much does laser surgery cost?

Laser eye surgery costs vary depending on the surgery type, the procedure’s complexity, and the surgeon’s experience. It’s best to consult a few clinics to compare prices and services.

10. Can laser eye surgery correct presbyopia?

Laser eye surgery can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, but it’s not typically used to correct presbyopia (age-related difficulty seeing close objects). However, some procedures, such as monovision LASIK, can help alleviate presbyopia symptoms.


  1. “What Is Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)?” – American Academy of Ophthalmology [https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/what-is-lasik]
  2. “Understanding LASIK” – U.S. Food and Drug Administration [https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/understanding-lasik]
  3. “LASIK Eye Surgery: Overview” – Mayo Clinic [https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lasik-eye-surgery/about/pac-20384774]
  4. “What to Expect with LASIK” – American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery [https://ascrs.org/patients/eye-procedures-explained/lasik]
  5. “Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) vs LASIK” – American Refractive Surgery Council [https://americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org/lasik-vs-prk/]
  6. “Laser Eye Surgery” – National Health Service (UK) [https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/laser-eye-surgery/]
  7. “Laser Eye Surgery: Pros and Cons” – WebMD [https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/lasik-laser-eye-surgery#1]
  8. “What Is Refractive Surgery?” – American Academy of Ophthalmology [https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/what-is-refractive-surgery]

The Author

Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

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