Details of LASEK

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As a new variation of PRK, laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) has some fundamental differences from LASIK and PRK. LASIK cuts a thin flap into the eye’s surface with a microkeratome cutting tool or a special laser and applies laser energy to the eye under the flap. PRK involves no thin flap and applies laser energy directly to the eye’s surface. PRK reshapes the cornea by removing the epithelium of the eye.

The principle and advantages of LASEK procedure

Unlike LASIK and PRK, LASEK preserves the thin epithelial layer and applies the laser energy directly to the eye’s outer surface. LASEK creates the flap using a special cutting tool named trephine, so that this surgery is more suitable for people with thinner or steeper corneas. The exact size of flap cut by LASEK can also decrease the risk of potential complications. There is evidence showing that both Epi-LASIK and LASEK are gaining popularity among refractive surgeons and related patients.

LASEK is not flawless

Drawbacks of LASEK include slower healing process and uncomfortable complaints. It is widely known that LASIK works well in these two aspects. Patients who receive LASIK will not experience any pain during the procedure, so that this surgery is widely considered painless. In terms of recovery speed, LASIK is also exciting that most patients can return to work in the next day after the surgery. Recognizing these two shortcomings of LASEK, researchers are figuring out a new surgical technique named butterfly LASEK which can reduce pain and accelerate healing. This new variation will quite probably further promote the acceptance rate of LASEK.

Detailed steps of LASEK procedure

The LASEK procedure contains several steps. After cutting the epithelium using a trephine, the surgeon uses a diluted alcohol solution to loosen the epithelium edges. Then the epithelial flap will be lifted and an excimer laser can be applied to sculpt the corneal tissue. Corneal tissue sculpting is the key step, similar to corneal reshaping during LASIK. The final step is to replace the epithelial flap. Some people may notice that most of these operations are similar to that of LASIK. But they differ from each other in some details.

Postoperative care and recovery

LASEK differs from LASIK also in postoperative recovery. As mentioned above, the eye after LASEK treatment usually takes longer time to heal the flap edge and restore good vision. Patients may need to wear a bandage contact lens to protect the eye for several days. Irritation and more pain are possible during the recovery period after LASEK.

Make a prior consultation

Not everyone is a good candidate for LASEK surgery. It is unwise to simply focus on its advantages or emphasize its drawbacks. Patients should talk to their surgeons before making a decision. Some studies point out that LASEK causes dry eye less frequently than LASIK, while others argue that the outcome of LASEK is closely associated with the surgeon’s experience and skill.