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What You Need to Know About LASEK

October 5, 2017

With over 14 million people in the US experiencing some type of vision impairment, more people are turning to eye surgery than ever before. OCLI offers many services including LASEK. LASEK eye surgery is often confused with LASIK, but they’re actually different procedures. LASEK surgery is a good option for patients whose corneas are too thin or flat to undergo LASIK. Here’s what you need to know about LASEK eye surgery.

The Procedure

LASEK surgery is an outpatient procedure. Similar to LASIK surgery, LASEK involves the use of an excimer laser. Both procedures can correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. The main difference between the two procedures is the way they are performed.

During Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK), both the epithelium and the stroma are cut. In Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) only the epithelium is cut, which is why the LASEK procedure is a good fit for patients with thinner corneas. The LASEK surgery procedure uses a finer blade than the LASIK procedure. Both the LASEK and LASIK procedures last about 5 to 10 minutes per eye.

LASEK is also similar to PRK, the first laser eye surgery approved for vision correction. In both PRK (Photo Refractive Keratectomy) and LASEK, the epithelial layer of the cornea is removed. In PRK, however, the epithelial layer is discarded and the eye is left to regenerate this layer. During LASEK surgery, the epithelial layer is preserved and placed back in the eye.

This video shows the differences between LASIK and LASEK. 

The Recovery

Recovery from LASEK surgery is slightly longer than recovery from LASIK. LASIK patients can take anywhere from two days up to one week to recover. Typically patients are allowed to drive within one to three days of surgery.

LASEK patients take about four to seven days to recover and driving is usually recommended after about a week. Clear vision returns after six to eight weeks. Although LASEK surgery recovery is longer than the recovery from LASIK, there are fewer risks associated with epithelial flap complications resulting from LASEK.

The Risks

Due to the nature of the procedure, LASEK patients will often feel more discomfort after surgery than LASIK patients. The complications from LASEK surgery are similar to those from LASIK. These include dry eyes, blurry vision, halos, and the risk of over or under correction which may require further surgery. Tissue damage to epithelial cells may slow the healing process after surgery.

Although the LASEK surgery procedure takes about the same amount of time as PRK or LASIK (approximately 15 minutes per eye), many patients who are a good fit for LASIK will go that route because it requires less healing time than LASEK or PRK.

LASEK surgery is a safe and effective alternative to LASIK, but is generally only recommended if a patient is not a good fit for LASIK. Regardless of which surgery you choose, it’s important to use an experienced surgeon. Dr. Silverman and the staff at OCLI can help you determine which type of eye surgery is best for you. Contact OCLI today to arrange a consultation.

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