LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) is a relatively new type of corrective laser eye surgery. It employs an alcohol solution to loosen the very outer layer (epithelium) of the cornea. Once the laser correction has been performed, this epithelial flap is replaced as a sort of natural bandage. LASEK is a good alternative for those patients who are not candidates for LASIK surgery due to thin corneas.
Reasons to consider LASEK:
- Wish to reduce or eliminate dependence on glasses or contacts for those with myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism
- The epithelial layer is kept, reducing healing time and pain compared to PRK
- An alternative for patients with thin corneas who are not candidates for LASIK
- Reduces the chances of post-operative corneal haze, compared to PRK
- Patients experience dry-eye less often after LASEK than compared to LASIK
For the LASEK procedure, first the doctor creates an epithelial flap. Alcohol is used for about 30 seconds to loosen the epithelial cells. Then the epithelium is lifted, with the help of a trephine blade, and folded aside, to allow access to the inner layers of the cornea. At this point, the excimer laser ablates (burns off) the carefully mapped tissue, just as in LASIK and PRK. After the laser correction is complete, the doctor replaces the epithelial flap, and applies a bandage contact lens to aid in healing.
The epithelial layer fully heals in about a day, though usually the patient must wear the bandage contact lens for about four days. Patients may experience mild discomfort, irritation or pain for the first couple of days after the procedure. The doctor will schedule several check-up appointments to monitor the healing process, followed by periodic visits over the next several months. During the recovery process, the patient should rest and refrain from any strenuous activities for at least a week. Most patients can return to work in a few days, though it is best to take off whatever time needed to ensure a smooth recovery.
LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) is a type of eye surgery similar to LASIK in its results, but slightly different in its process. Many of our patients come to us because they are disappointed they do not qualify for LASIK surgery due to having thin corneas. If that is the case with you, then give us a call. Corrective laser eye surgery can still be a viable and effective option for you.
The LASEK Procedure
LASEK is unlike PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), which reshapes the cornea and reduces its thickness. If your corneas are too thin to have any portion removed, LASEK allows you to keep the outermost layer of the cornea as a protective barrier. The LASEK procedure utilizes an alcohol solution to loosen the outermost layer (epithelium) of the cornea prior to using the laser. Once the laser correction portion of the surgery has been performed, the epithelial flap is replaced, acting as a natural bandage.
The LASEK Difference
This procedure also reduces your pain and healing time compared to PRK, as well as the risk of post-operative corneal haze and dry-eye. LASEK recovery only takes about one day to heal, though we recommend wearing the bandage contact lens for four days for extra protection. We recommend rest from strenuous activities for about a week and wait a few days to return to work. Your doctor will also schedule several check-ups with you to monitor the healing process, including any discomfort or irritation you feel during the first few days of recovery and the improvement of your vision over the next several months.
We are excited to assist you on your journey to better vision. Contact us now with questions or to schedule your consultation at our New York City office.