Eye opening

All you need to know about corrective eye surgery

With the multitude of corrective eye surgeries on the market, you should take a closer look at what’s best for you, not at the price tag. While many factors are involved in choosing the appropriate procedure, this handy chart – created with the help of Dr. David Rootman, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Toronto – should help.

Before booking a consultation, ask your optometrist to recommend a few laser eye surgery centres and ophthalmologists she trusts. Keep in mind that most health-insurance plans don’t cover the following surgeries, because they are considered cosmetic. Prices vary by surgeon, clinic, location and, in some cases, even which day of the week you’re having the procedure. Some centres offer lower prices mid-week – but don’t be a bargain hunter. They may be advertising cut-rate prices just to get you in the door, before suggesting costly add-ons.

  How it works Ideal if Side effects Cost
photo-refractive keratectomy
The outer layer of the cornea is removed and then the remaining layer is reshaped with a laser to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. You’ll wear soft contact lenses for a few days post-op to promote healing. You have a low to moderate degree of correction and are hesitant to have a blade cut your eye (see LASIK). Your vision will be blurred, you may have the sensation of sand in your eyes over-night and you’ll also be sensitive to light for a few days. $800 to $2,000 per eye
laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis
Anesthetic drops are put in your eyes, then a sharp bladed device called a microkeratome cuts a flap in the cornea. The surgeon folds the flap back (a “hinge” is left at one end) and a laser removes corneal tissue and reshapes it. You don’t mind the blade and don’t want too many uncomfortable side effects. Fewer side effects than PRK, but there is a very rare chance of serious complications that may require a corneal transplant. $2,000 to $3,000 per eye
Epi-LASIK This procedure is a variation of PRK. A blunt plastic blade is used to separate the outer layer of the cornea from the eye. A laser removes corneal tissue and reshapes it. You have dry eyes (the laser won’t damage the corneal nerves that stimulate tears). Similar to PRK Up to $2,000 per eye
IntraLase LASIK How it works
LASIK that uses a laser (instead of a blade) to cut the flap of the cornea. This technology is still fairly new and more expensive than LASIK, so you might find some surgeons haven’t yet adopted it.
You have thinner corneas and are concerned about the safety of LASIK. You may have eye irritation for less than a day post-op. IntraLase is generally considered to be safer, more precise and more accurate than lasik and Epi-LASIK. Up to $3,000 per eye
guided LASIK
The deluxe version of LASIK. A computer map of the eye is used to perform a very customized reshaping of the cornea. Aside from correcting your vision, it may also correct minor aberrations (such as glare and night-vision problems). Aside from improving your vision, you want to correct minor aberrations. Sensitivity to light and blurred vision for the first day or so. Up to $3,000 per eye