LASEK is an eye surgery that is similar to LASIK in several ways, but has a few key differences. Like LASIK, it is used to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. LASEK also has some similarities to another type of eye surgery, PRK. LASEK combines certain elements of the PRK and LASIK procedure to produce an ideal result.
How LASEK compares to LASIK and PRK
In all of these procedures, a laser is used to reshape the eye to improve vision. The primary difference in how the eye is accessed. The eye has a protective layer over it that has to be dealt with before the procedure can take place.
In LASIK, the outer layer is give a small flap, which is then peeled back while the rest of the surgery takes place. Once the surgery is completed, the flap is rested back into place and allowed to heal.
In PRK, the flap is never created. Instead, a smaller layer is removed entirely. Since the layer cut in LASIK is deeper, the flap has to be set back because it will not grow on its own. The layer removed outright in PRK is much thinner and can be regrown.
LASEK combines certain aspects of these two procedures. LASEK focused on the small layer concept like in PRK, focusing on cells that can be regrown. However, in PRK the removed layer is discarded. LASEK shares a similarity with LASIK in that it saves the removed layer and it is set back into place once the surgery is completed.
How Does LASEK Work?
Aside from the depth of the cut made in the outer layer of the eye, LASEK is performed nearly the same as LASIK. A blade is used to cut into the thin layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) whereas in LASIK a laser is used and cuts a deeper flap. The thin layer that has been cut is then treated with alcohol and peeled back during the surgery.
A laser is then used to reshape corneal tissue to suit the vision needs of the patient. The layer is then set back into place and allowed to heal.
What Happens Post-Surgery?
After receiving LASEK surgery the patient will have to go through a brief recovery period while the epithelium heals itself. The patient will be given special contact lenses that act like a special “eye-bandage” to help protect the eyes while healing. Patients may also be given special steroid eye-drops to speed up recovery. The full recovery time usually takes a week or two, with improved vision reported after 48 hours or so.