LASEK Eye Surgery
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. LASEK eye surgery is used to treat astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.
What Are the Advantages of LASEK Eye Surgery?
LASEK surgery includes several advantages, including:
- Complications associated with cutting and reattaching the flap in the cornea are avoided.
- LASEK eye surgery causes dry eye less frequently than LASIK eye surgery.
In LASEK eye surgery, a microkeratome, a blade used to make an incision in the cornea, is not used to create a flap like it is in LASIK surgery. Instead, the outer layer of the cornea is lifted -- after a finer blade called a trephine is used -- and then loosened with a 20% alcohol solution. A laser is then used to reshape the remaining surface of the cornea.
What Are the Disadvantages of LASEK Eye Surgery?
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 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 may cause more pain and discomfort than LASIK , but less pain than PRK surgery. Most LASEK patients say the discomfort lasts about two days or less.
- 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.
What Are the Side Effects of LASEK Eye Surgery?
LASEK eye surgery shows side effects less frequently than is seen with PRK, however side effects may occur. These may include:
- Sensation of having a foreign object in your eye (lasts anywhere from one to four days)
- Temporarily reduced vision under poorly lit conditions (up to 12 months)
- Dry eyes, requiring the use of moisturizing drops (up to six months)
- Hazy or cloudy vision (should disappear within six to nine months)
How Do I Know If LASEK Eye Surgery Is for Me?
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 eye surgery is better for people with dry eye syndrome because in avoiding a deeper flap, the corneal nerves responsible for the tearing reflex are not cut.