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LASEK: An Alternative to LASIK Eye Surgery

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Medically Reviewed by Robert Maloney, MD, and member of the Refractive Surgery Council editorial advisory board on December 21, 2020
If you are considering LASEK eye surgery or have been advised against receiving LASIK, ask your doctor if you may be a good candidate for the procedure.

What is LASEK eye surgery?

LASEK eye surgery is a laser eye surgery similar to LASIK that offers improved vision to people who may not be best served by a LASIK procedure . LASEK, or laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy, is an operation that creates a thin epithelial flap as opposed to the thicker corneal flap created with LASIK. This distinction may reduce flap-related complications. After creating the flap, the surgeon ablates the underlying corneal tissue and then replaces and smooths over the flap.

How does LASEK differ from LASIK?

LASIK eye surgery covers a wider range of refractions, has a shorter visual recovery time (one day versus three days for LASEK), and causes less post-operative discomfort in the absence of complications.

Who is a good candidate for LASEK eye surgery?

Patients with thin corneas may benefit from LASEK eye surgery since it preserves more corneal tissue than LASIK. For this reason, many ophthalmologists consider LASEK eye surgery to be a recommended option for laser vision correction in some patients.

How much does the procedure cost?

LASEK eye surgery typically costs $1,000 to $2,300 for traditional LASEK and anywhere between $2,500 and $4,000 for custom LASEK. The cost for LASEK is similar to that for LASIK.

What are the risks and benefits of LASEK eye surgery?

The benefits of LASEK eye surgery include no incision in the cornea, a shorter recovery time compared to photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), and an alternative laser eye surgery option for patients who are not good candidates for LASIK. Complications associated with LASEK eye surgery are rare but may include post-operative haze, corneal scarring, dry eye, eye infection or irritation, and blurred vision.

If you are considering LASEK eye surgery or have been advised against receiving LASIK, ask your doctor if you may be a good candidate for the procedure. Be sure to thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor, and let your doctor know about any medical conditions you have as well as any medications you take.