The difference between LASIK, LASEK or Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

There are a number of different laser eye surgery – LASIK & LASEK options available on the market, but it can be confusing when choosing which is the right option for you.

At Exeter Eye we offer all three treatments and explain why it is so important to see a fully qualified ophthalmic surgeon who will support you in your choice every step of the way.

The most common types of laser eye surgery – LASIK & LASEK are: Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) and Laser Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK).


LASIK can now correct the widest range of vision imperfections, including long-sightedness, mild to severe short-sightedness and astigmatism. With LASIK your vision correction is 100 per+cent tailored to your individual eyes, using measurements 25 times more precise than those for glasses or contacts.

LASIK isn’t what it used to be – diagnostic techniques have advanced dramatically over the years and the surgical technology is now more precise than ever before.

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During the procedure, a laser is used to reshape the cornea, where light enters the eye. This corrects vision by changing the cornea’s shape so that light is properly focused. The procedure takes only minutes and most people can go to work the next day. As with any surgery, there are risks and limitations, and our ophthalmic surgeons can review these with you.

Waking up with clear, sharp vision is priceless. It’s no secret that the cost of glasses, contact lenses and solution can add up over the years, making LASIK a smart investment.

Exeter Eye is pleased to announce it uses the advanced blade-free ‘Z-LASIK’ which takes vision correction to new levels of precision, safety and speed.

Thanks to the advanced technology behind Z-LASIK, most people are suitable for LASIK eye surgery – including many people who have been turned down in the past.

LASEK Treatment

In a LASEK operation a very thin layer of cells from the surface of the cornea is removed, which allows laser vision correction to take place near the surface of the cornea rather than deeper inside. This process is also called ‘surface laser treatment’ or ‘epi-LASEK’.

Next the surface layer of the cornea is replaced and the cornea is left to heal naturally over several days. A protective contact lens is then placed on your eye to help reduce any discomfort and protect the cornea while it heals. Clear vision is expected around one week after surgery.

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Because there is no need to create a corneal flap with LASEK, it may be a better treatment for people with very thin or steep corneas, or those with mild vision imperfections or specific lifestyle issues.

You should only have LASEK if your ophthalmic surgeon recommends it for you.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive lens exchange is an alternative to LASIK or LASEK laser eye surgery – LASIK & LASEK. It can correct any degree of short or long-sightedness and also astigmatism; plus it is ideal for people over 50 years old.

Refractive lens exchange removes the natural lens from your eye and replaces it with a lens implant that permanently corrects your focus. You can never develop cataracts after this procedure.

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Refractive Lens Exchange, also known as clear lens replacement, is a procedure designed to reduce a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses.

Refractive Lens Exchange is most often recommended when a patient is not a good candidate for laser vision correction procedures; especially in cases where the cornea is too thin. It is not generally recommended for people under 45 years of age, although there can be exceptions.

We will work with you to determine the best IOL implant for your vision needs. Certain premium IOLs, such as Symfony & Symfony toric IOLs, will allow you to see both near and far, and improve the vision problems found with presbyopia.

RLE surgery is relatively fast, painless and safe. It is performed under local anaesthetic and the procedure itself only takes a few minutes. Thanks to our advanced technology no stitches are needed. Afterwards, you will be able to go home almost straight away and you should be able to resume normal activities such as driving, walking and sports in a few days. Your vision will be very good the day after surgery and better again the following day.

RLE is also a good option if your optometrist or eye surgeon detects the early stages of cataracts in your eyes. With RLE surgery your natural lens is removed, so there will be no possibility of a cataract developing in the future.

Make an appointment today

Exeter Eye is a specialist ophthalmic eye clinic treating all eye conditions and offering the very best in patient care and comfort. We always ensure we fully understand your condition and lifestyle before identifying your treatment options and then help you choose the best one for you.

Simply call us on 01392 699969 to make an appointment with one of our eye specialists today and discuss your requirements or get in touch online.

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