LASEK is an eye surgery that combines many of the benefits of other vision correction surgeries.
Laser epithelial keratomileusis, or LASEK, combines benefits of the two most commonly performed procedures — LASIK and PRK.
What Are the Advantages of LASEK Eye Surgery?
LASEK surgery is said to have several advantages, including:
In LASEK eye surgery, various techniques are used to retain the very thin corneal surface layer of cells (epithelium) that is used to recover the cornea after the laser sculpting is performed. With LASIK, a thicker flap is created using a laser or mechanical device (microkeratome) under which the laser sculpting is done
LASEK eye surgery may be better for patients who have steep or very thin corneas, which make it difficult for the surgeon to make a proper LASIK flap. Since traumatic injury to the eye is more serious after LASIK than after LASEK eye surgery, patients who engage in professional or leisure activities that put their eyes at increased risk for injury (such as boxing) may be better suited for LASEK. LASEK (or PRK) eye surgery may be better for people with dry eye syndrome because in avoiding a deeper flap, the corneal nerves responsible for the tearing reflex are not cut.
LASEK eye surgery is done under a topical anesthesia placed directly into the eye. During the procedure, the top layer of cells, or epithelium, is treated with alcohol for about 30 seconds and detached from the underlying tissue. It is then lifted or rolled back so that the eye doctor can access the cornea tissue. The newly exposed tissue is treated with the same laser used in LASIK eye surgery and PRK. Then the top layer of cells is put into place.
This is in contrast to LASIK eye surgery, in which a laser or cutting device makes a flap in the cornea.
LASEK eye surgery is performed on a walk-in, walk-out basis, and should take about 15 minutes per eye. You are awake for the procedure and shouldn’t feel any pain, but your surgeon may give you a mild sedative to help you relax.
Disadvantages of LASEK eye surgery include:
Longer visual recovery time compared to LASIK eye surgery. Many LASEK patients will not fully recover functional vision for at least one to two weeks while their eye heals, which is similar to the healing time experienced in PRK eye surgery. LASIK patients often have good vision by the day after surgery.
LASEK eye surgery usually causes more pain and discomfort than LASIK , but possibly less pain than PRK surgery.
Patients need to wear a “bandage contact lens” for about three or four days after LASEK eye surgery to serve as a protective layer between your blinking eyelids and the treated eye surface, which is not necessary after LASIK.
Patients must use topical steroid drops for several weeks longer than after LASIK eye surgery.