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Compare your laser eye surgery options


This is a general guide to the various types of laser eye surgery available – the end visual result is the same for all three procedures.

An initial assessment is required to determine which procedure is most appropriate for you.

The initial assessment involves comprehensive testing and measurement of your eyes, as well as an in-depth discussion with a vision correction surgeon about your visual goals and lifestyle considerations, realistic visual outcome, potential risks, recovery period and costs.


(also called ASLA)



Age range

18–55 18–55 18–55

Approved for

  • Long-sightedness
  • Short-sightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Long-sightedness
  • Short-sightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Short-sightedness
  • Astigmatism

Prescription range

+2 to –8 (stable for 12 months) +4 to –10 (stable for 12 months) –3 to –10 (stable for 12 months)


Relatively non-invasive surface treatment Requires creation of a corneal flap Requires lasered corneal lenticule to be removed

Discomfort during healing

Mild/moderate in early healing Very little Very little

Initial visual recovery

(return to normal activities)

Slower than LASIK and SMILE (at least 1 week of downtime) Very quick (usually overnight) Slower than LASIK (within a few days)

Complete visual stabilisation

Up to 12 months 3–6 months 3–6 months


  • Lowest-risk option
  • No corneal flap
  • Suitable for thinner or irregular corneas
  • ‘No touch’ PRK also available
  • Fastest initial visual recovery
  • Quick return to normal activities
  • No corneal flap
  • More suitable than LASIK for higher refractive errors and drier eyes
  • Fastest return to contact sports (around day 5)


  • Slowest recovery of all procedures
  • At least 1 week before returning to driving/work
  • Not suitable for thin or steep corneas or chronic dry eyes
  • At least 1-month wait to resume contact sports
  • Not approved to treat long-sightedness
  • Slightly longer initial visual recovery than LASIK

Download a PDF version of this comparison chart

*SMILE® is currently available in NSW only. SMILE® is a registered trademark of Carl Zeiss Meditec.


  1. Lawless M. Refractive Laser Surgery: Who’s Interested Now? mivision 2019;141:33–37.
  2. https://visioneyeinstitute.com.au/services/laser-eye-surgery/ (accessed online Apr 2019).


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The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.

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