Differences between various laser eye surgeries

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There are currently several types of laser eye surgeries available. The basic and common principle of all laser eye surgeries is corneal reshaping, which restores the eye’s ability to focus light in a proper way. Another fact is that various surgeries involve different technologies. While a majority of patients only know LASIK, other options may be suitable for certain groups of people. For instance, Astigmatism Keratotomy deals with professionally astigmatism. This article describes several types of laser eye procedures as well as their differences.

LASIK removes some corneal tissues under a flap

With a full name of Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis, LASIK is usually performed to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Among all of the surgeries, only LASIK cuts a corneal flap during the surgery. LASIK uses a laser to apply the corneal tissue under the flap. In this way the corneal surface can be reshaped. In other words, a necessary amount of corneal tissues are removed. Until now, LASIK is the most popular vision eye surgery among the public.

PRK delivers cool pulses on the cornea

PRK (Photo Refractive Keratectomy) is another popular choice. This procedure is also capable of curing nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism in mild and moderate forms. PRK involves no corneal cutting. During a PRK surgery, a laser delivers cool pulses of ultraviolet light directly on the cornea. During this process, the corneal surface will be reshaped. As a forerunner of LASIK, PRK is also a popular option today.

LTK uses a laser to heat the cornea

Laser thermokeratoplasty (LTK) has been developed to correct astigmatism and farsightedness. Like PRK, LTK requires no cutting and corneal tissue removal. Within several minutes, the heat of a precise laser beam will be used to shrink and reshape the cornea. A shortcoming of LTK is that the surgical result is always temporary and regression may occur within the first three months.

LASEK draws experience from both LASIK and PRK

Also addressing myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) is a newer form of laser eye correction. Its advantage is that the surgery combines the benefits of both LASIK and PRK. Using a 20% alcohol solution, LASEK creates an “epithelial flap” on the cornea. The follow-up steps are the same as LASIK and PRK. By eliminating real corneal flap cutting, the potential risks of flap complications associated with LASIK can be eliminated.

AK corrects astigmatism exclusively

AK (Astigmatism Keratotomy) is quite special that it does not use a laser. As the name reflects, AK is particularly used to correct astigmatism. This surgery is usually performed in conjunction with LASIK or PRK. An AK surgeon will create two incisions directly into the cornea, which is expected to restore a normal shape. Then laser treatments will follow.