What is TransPRK?


Myopia is a common refractive error amongst Singaporeans as we have one of the highest myopia rates in the world. With so many people needing glasses and contact lenses to see well, it is no wonder laser vision correction (LVC) has become a popular procedure for many to gain independence from glasses and contact lenses. There are many types of LVC procedures and TransPRK is one of them. Read on to understand more.

What is TransPRK?

Transepithelial Photorefractive Keratectomy (TransPRK) is a surface-based flapless LVC procedure. In TransPRK, the first layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed with a laser. The laser then concentrates a cool beam of ultraviolet light and sends high-energy pulses to reshape the corneal stroma.

After the cornea has been reshaped, high oxygen-permeability contact lenses are placed on the eyes to act as a bandage for about 3 days. These contact lenses provide protection to the eyes and reduce discomfort during the recovery process. The lenses are typically removed 3 days post-surgery. During this recovery period, the epithelium heals, and most people can recover about 80% of the vision and return to work after 1 week.

transprk vs lasik

How does TransPRK differ from PRK, LASIK and ReLEx SMILE?

TransPRK vs PRK

The main difference between TransPRK and PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is the method by which the corneal epithelium is removed. TransPRK uses a laser while PRK uses alcohol to remove the epithelium. Studies have shown that the safety indices, post-surgery recovery and visual outcomes have no significant differences for both procedures.


LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a flap surgery that involves creating a 22mm flap with a laser. The flap is folded back, and a second laser is used to reshape the corneal stroma. Thereafter, the flap is repositioned, and most people can recover about 75% of the vision the very next day. 

On the other hand, TransPRK is a flapless procedure which may be more suitable for those who engage in contact sports such as Muay Thai or Mixed Martial Arts. It is also recommended for those who are concerned about dry eye. LASIK tends to result in a higher incidence of dry eye with a larger 22mm incision compared to TransPRK.


In ReLEx® SMILE (SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction), the laser creates a piece of corneal tissue (lenticule) just beneath the surface of the cornea and thereafter a small 4mm incision in the cornea. Your eye surgeon will remove the lenticule through the 4mm incision which will heal within 24 hours. Most people are able to resume work 3 days after.  

SMILE aims to combine the benefits of both TransPRK and LASIK – flapless and fast recovery. It is ideal for people who lead an active lifestyle, have dry eye or looking to have a fast vision recovery with minimal discomfort.

However, ReLEx SMILE is not recommended for people with hyperopia.

Which LVC procedure should I go for?

During the laser suitability assessment, your eye surgeon will go through your ocular and general health history, corneal shape and thickness, the amount of prescription you may have, your occupation hobbies etc. Together with you, he/she will determine the type of LVC you are suitable for to ensure long term safety and stability.

Related services provided by Atlas Eye Specialist Centre 

At our eye centre, we offer all forms of LVC. This allows our ophthalmologist to have the full range of surgical options on hand to recommend the best possible treatment for your eyes. If you would like to ascertain your suitability for PRK, LASIK or SMILE, you can contact us at +65 6737 9119 or atlaseye@atlaseye.sg

transprk vs relex smile