Laser eye surgery overview

What you need to know about getting rid of your glasses and contact lenses – all in one place

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Now more than ever, it’s the best time to start your journey towards self-reliant vision

In this video we share everything you need to know about laser eye surgery so you can be free from the limitations and risks associated with glasses and contact lenses

How to safely and effectively get rid of your glasses or contact lenses

After a 40-year track record, laser eye surgery has established itself as one of the most successful elective treatments in the world


LASEK is a type of laser eye surgery, often used as an alternative treatment for those who are not suitable for LASIK eye surgery. LASEK may not be suitable for you if you have a high prescription, very high astigmatism or even keratoconus.


LASIK is the most common form of laser vision correction. It’s a safe and effective treatment for short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. The effects of LASIK are permanent and the results are outstanding.


ReLEx® SMILE works similarly to LASIK but is a less-invasive, keyhole treatment. SMILE also offers more comfort, a faster recovery and less chance of dry eye after the procedure.


PRESBYOND ®, also known as “laser blended vision” is a laser vision correction treatment aimed at treating presbyopia and other refractive errors. PRESBYOND enables you the opportunity to read again without reading glasses and see clearly at a distance.



If you are one of the rare patients for whom laser eye surgery is not suitable, ICL lens implants offer a safe and extremely accurate option to free you from needing glasses. This option is particularly suitable for you if the shape/thickness of cornea makes you ineligible for laser eye surgery; or, if you are so short- or long-sighted that you are out of the treatable prescription range with laser eye surgery.

Laser eye surgery enables you to experience a richer life without spectacles or contacts

Take one of the first steps and find out if you are suitable

Who can laser eye surgery help?

Can you see yourself below?

YOU’RE 20 TO 39

You’re frustrated with blurred or double vision, haziness, glare, halos around bright lights, squinting, headaches, or eye strain. You find glasses a hassle or worry about contact lens dangers. If that describes you, I can help you see better without the need for glasses and contact lenses.

YOU’RE 40 TO 49

You have been frustrated with your glasses or contact lenses all your life. Or, you have just begun to become annoyed with your new need for reading glasses. If that’s you, I can help you see clearly without either.

YOU’RE 50 TO 55

You might have become accustomed to wearing reading glasses, varifocals or multifocal contact lenses. If a combination of these solutions is not ideal for you, I can help you see clearly again without them.

Live a richer life without glasses or contact lenses

Laser eye surgery is an ideal solution if you want a safe and effective treatment for short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism, and in some cases, presbyopia


Imagine seeing the world without the need for glasses or contact lenses. You’ll have a freedom that some patients call “life-changing”.


Most patients say they wish they’d done it sooner. You may feel more confident and will certainly experience more convenience.


Awaken ready to face the world free from spectacles, ready to read the morning headlines on your mobile or tablet. Take a shower without the blurriness. Work and exercise without glasses or the dryness of contact lenses. Avoid the everyday chance of contact lens infection. Stop the constant need to put your glasses on and off. Don’t worry about where you’ve left your readers or needing to keep half a dozen pairs around the house. Fall asleep, without worrying about leaving your lenses in.


Whether we like it or not, other people rate people based on appearances. Glasses can be an appendage that needlessly divides us or makes us appear older than we are. Ditch their limiting nature and live glasses-free.


Glasses have been the tired solution for vision problems since the 1200s. Vision correction options today have evolved significantly, yet many people are confused by the jargon or unclear explanations about what you can do. Leave the past behind and allow me to guide you on the journey towards a life free from the hassle of spectacles and contacts.

Vision correction enables you to experience a richer life without spectacles or contacts

Take one of the first steps and find out if you are suitable

Supplementary information about the laser eye surgery

In my expert hands, you certainly don’t need to know all of the information I’ve included in the toggles below. If you’d like to know how it all works, however, open them and learn more.

Eye surgeons use laser eye surgery to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, and sometimes, the symptoms of presbyopia.

We use the laser to alter the shape of the cornea to ensure light reaching the back of the eye is correctly focused.

Laser treatments are a safe, effective and convenient way to avoid some of the disadvantages of wearing contact lenses.

It often provides a better result than wearing glasses or contact lenses as there is no barrier or object around the outside of the eye. This allows for a clear view.

There are many untrue myths about laser eye surgery. Many well-meaning opticians tell patients that they are unsuitable for laser eye surgery.

The truth is that unless you have had the specialised scans and assessments that only a laser eye surgeon and laser eye surgery clinic can perform, then this advice is probably incorrect.

Modern laser eye surgery has evolved to the point where it is very unusual not to be able to offer a patient one of the three generations of laser procedures.

We can now treat prescriptions from -12.0 units of short-sightedness all the way up to +4.0 units of long-sightedness. We can even combine these treatments with correction for up to 4 units of astigmatism at the same time.

What’s more, even if you are one of the rare patients who are not suitable for laser, we now have incredible implantable contact lens technology which is an excellent alternative to laser.

During your initial consultation, I will oversee a full range of diagnostic tests to evaluate both your eye health and your glasses prescription.

I will also evaluate your vision needs concerning your occupation and hobbies. Based on this information, I will be able to give you personalised advice on your options and what you can expect from laser vision correction.

I will be your ophthalmic surgeon along every stage of the laser eye surgery process from the first consultation to post-surgical care.

The day of laser eye surgery involves you coming into hospital for no more than two hours. When you come to the hospital, we will bring you to our day ward.

You will have your own cubicle. The nurses will see you and will check that your blood pressure and your heart rate is okay.

Understandably, both your blood pressure and heart rate might be elevated because you will be anxious, so we usually give patients, or we at least offer them, a small amount of sedation in the form of a tablet.

It is very mild but very effective at calming you and making you feel comfortable and less anxious.

When you are ready, and when we’ve completed all our safety checks, we bring you downstairs to our basement where we keep the lasers. We will lie you flat on a bed, and we will swing you in underneath the laser.

We then start applying some anaesthetic eye drops. These are very powerful, very effective eye drops.

The first couple of drops sting a little, but after that, they rapidly work to numb the whole surface of the eye and the edges of the eyelids.

We use a very gentle spring-loaded device to hold the eyelids open. It does not clamp the eyelid open, and if you blink, it moves very slightly to give you the illusion that you have blinked. Actually, your eyelids do not meet, and the device keeps them out of the field that we are working in.

Next, you look at a flashing light, and we start the laser. This takes anywhere between 10 to 15 seconds to work if you are having LASIK. It can take up to 20 seconds for procedures such as SMILE.

With LASIK, there is also an additional step, which is the actual excimer laser, a second laser, and again that is another 30-second procedure followed by another five to six seconds, during which we put in drops to help the eye heal.

We do one eye first, and only if the first treatment is entirely successful do we proceed to treat the second eye. Once we’ve done both eyes, we will bring you back to our ward, give you a cup of tea or coffee to celebrate and give you a final check before you go home.

When we assess you for laser eye surgery, we need to make sure that you have a stable prescription, a healthy eye and a cornea that is the correct shape and strength to withstand the effects of surgery.

So, the types of eye conditions that stop people from having laser eye surgery are divided up into situations where people have either severe dry eye or any other abnormality of the shape of the cornea such as keratoconus.

Typically, we also avoid doing laser eye surgery on patients who are on certain systemic medicines, that is tablets or injections which could include medication that could form deposits in the cornea or which could prevent the healing of the cornea.

The last group of reasons that we have for not wanting to do laser eye surgery on patients is systemic conditions, including bodily diseases such as diabetes or conditions where the collagen in the body is abnormal, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Marfan syndrome.

There are three generations of laser eye surgery. The first generation was initially performed in the early 1990s, and this type of laser eye surgery was called PRK, or LASEK.

In PRK or LASEK, we apply the laser directly to the surface of the eye. This results in a significant amount of discomfort and watering after surgery and slow visual recovery.

For that reason, scientists, surgeons and engineers developed the second generation of laser eye surgery, called LASIK.

In LASIK there are 2 steps to the procedure. The first step is to use a femtosecond laser to create a thin flap on the surface of the cornea, which we peel open. The second step is to use a second laser, called an excimer laser, to sculpt the glasses prescription into the cornea, thereby correcting the vision. I then put the flap back in place, and the vision recovers rapidly, within 24 hours, with minimal discomfort and only mild watering from the eye.

ReLEx® SMILE is the third generation of laser eye surgery. SMILE is effectively the same principle as LASIK, except we perform it through a tiny 3mm keyhole incision. There is no flap, and in contrast with LASIK, there is a 24mm incision to create the flap. The typical recovery after SMILE is equally rapid as with LASIK, and again, there are minimal symptoms of discomfort and speedy visual recovery.

What are the alternatives if you are not suitable for Laser Eye Surgery?

If someone is not suitable for laser eye surgery, this does not mean that we cannot undertake vision correction.

One alternative to laser eye surgery is to place a lens implant inside the eye which corrects the glasses prescription. You can think of this like putting a contact lens inside the eye (on the surface of the natural lens). Therefore, it is like wearing a contact lens permanently except the contact lens is in the eye rather than on the surface of the eye.

The second alternative is a lens exchange procedure where we remove the natural lens and replace it with a multifocal lens implant to give good distance, intermediate and close-up vision.

This is an ideal solution for someone who is not suitable for laser eye surgery, and if they are older and suffering from a condition that we call presbyopia. Presbyopia is the condition where someone is unable to read at a close distance due to the natural ageing process of the eye.

The first step is to have a series of remarkably sophisticated scans which examine the health of the eye but in particular focus on the cornea to see whether the cornea is sufficiently thick, is a suitable shape and strong enough to withstand the effects of laser eye surgery.

The second step is for you to see one of our optometrists, who is a specialist in prescribing glasses. They will check your glasses prescription, ensure that the glasses you are wearing or the contact lenses you are wearing are at the correct prescription and that there has been no change that could affect the outcome of laser eye surgery.

The third step is for you to see a Consultant Ophthalmologist, like me, who is ultimately responsible for your care and for performing the surgery for you.

As the Consultant Ophthalmologist, I will discuss with you your scans, ensure that it is safe for you to have laser eye surgery and help you decide which form of laser eye surgery is the correct one for you.

In some cases, laser eye surgery will not be suitable for you, and in that case, we have other alternatives, such as lens implant surgery, which I will discuss with you.

The recovery time following laser eye surgery varies depending on which type of laser eye surgery you have.

With the first generation of laser eye surgery which was PRK or LASEK, the recovery typically is one week, and we advise patients not to drive for one week.

Some patients after LASEK can take longer to reach the driving standard, but in general, the vision is entirely stable and reaches its preoperative levels with glasses by one month after surgery.

The visual recovery after LASIK and SMILE is far more rapid. These are the second and third generations of laser eye surgery.

Typically by the following morning after surgery, patients can see 20/20 or close to it, and far exceed the legal standards for driving. Usually, we clear people to go back to driving and back to work the day following surgery.

Take the first step

Find out if your eyes are suitable for vision correction

Book a free screening now or get us to give you a call back to answer questions

How it works

Enjoy a life free from glasses and contact lenses in 3 easy steps




Talk to us


Book an appointment or give us a call on 020 3808 7758 and we’ll help guide you towards a free screening.


I’ll see you before treatment to ensure you’re a good candidate and treat you at one of my Harley Street London facilities.


I’ll supervise your aftercare as you begin to experience a life free of glasses and contact lenses.

Affiliations and memberships

I am proud to be associated with these organisations as a member or consultant

About the author

Mr Alex J. Shortt | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MB BCh MSc PhD FRCOphth PGDipCatRef

I’m Alex Shortt, a highly trained academic researcher and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon based in London’s famous Harley Street medical district. I trained and worked as a consultant for 14 years at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. I specialise in advanced technologies for correcting vision, including cataract surgery, implantable contact lenses and laser vision correction.