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The Difference Between LASIK and LASEK

If you wear glasses or contacts, you’ve probably heard of LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery. Over two decades, advances in technology and techniques have established LASIK’s success in offering a clear view of the world without corrective lenses.

However, there’s a newer and less familiar procedure called LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) surgery. While this surgery also makes it possible for patients to see clearly without corrective lenses, this procedure is offered to individuals who aren’t suitable candidates for LASIK due to the thinness of their corneas and for other reasons.

Ophthalmologist Randa Garrana, MD, of Advanced Lasik in Manhattan, New York City, and Long Beach and Pasadena, California, is one of the most experienced refractive eye surgery specialists in the United States. In this blog, she explains the differences between LASIK and LASEK surgery.

What is LASIK?

LASIK is a widely performed laser eye surgery that’s been performed for more than two decades. It corrects refractive errors, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.

During a LASIK procedure, Dr. Garrana creates a thin flap on the cornea (eye surface) and reshapes the underlying corneal tissue with an excimer laser. This process corrects the refractive error. She then repositions the flap, and the cornea heals naturally within a day or two without stitches.

What are the pros and cons of LASIK?

The benefits of LASIK include:

Unfortunately, individuals with thin corneas, severe refractive errors, or certain eye conditions may not be suitable candidates for LASIK. However, Dr. Garrana notes that LASEK is an effective alternative for many people.

What is LASEK?

LASEK is a laser eye surgery that combines elements of LASIK and an older procedure called PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). LASEK is suitable for patients who have thinner corneas or who are otherwise unsuitable candidates for traditional LASIK.

During LASEK, Dr. Garrana uses a solution to loosen the cornea’s thin outer layer (epithelium). Then, she folds a portion of the epithelium to the side to access and reshape the cornea, correcting the refractive error.

After repositioning the epithelium, she places a special contact on the cornea to protect the area as the epithelium regenerates. This specialized lens is usually left in place for about four days.

Although the procedure itself is not painful, you may experience mild but easily managed eye discomfort and light sensitivity for a day or two following LASEK. Otherwise, most patients respond very well to LASEK. 

The differences between these advanced procedures may seem very subtle. However, the bottom line is that if you’re not eligible for LASIK, this hybrid procedure may be an excellent alternative.

To find out more about correcting your vision with LASIK or LASEK surgery, schedule an evaluation online or over the phone with Advanced Lasik today.

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