LASEK Vision Correction

in Eye

Eye surgeons have recently begun introducing a new variation of PRK, known as laser epithelial keratomileusis, or LASEK. According to its proponents, this new vision correction procedure marries the best benefits of LASIK with PRK. An ophthalmologist can examine your eyes to see if you are a good candidate for this particular eye surgery technique. Whether you choose LASEK, LASIK or PRK, for your vision correction needs, you'll want to evaluate the benefits and disadvantages with each type of refractive surgery.

Benefits of LASEK Eye Surgery

Those eye surgery patients with corneas that are too thin or too steep will most benefit from the LASEK procedure, because eye surgeons don't use microkeratome to create a corneal flap in the LASEK procedure. Instead, eye doctors use a finer blade to cut an outer layer of the cornea, and then lift and loosen it with a 20% alcohol solution. After your cornea is reshaped, the removed portion of the cornea is restored. The advantages in this type of surgery can offer the following:

  • Less dry eye than experienced with LASIK eye surgery
  • Avoidance of complications associated with cutting and reattaching the corneal flap
  • Less pain than that experienced with PRK eye surgery

Disadvantages of the LASEK Surgical Procedure

While complications are fewer, a LASEK patient must expect the LASEK recovery period to take a bit longer. Compared to LASIK, this procedure will require one to two weeks before the eye heals and vision starts stabilizing. Other disadvantages include:

  • More pain and discomfort than LASIK
  • Patients must wear a bandage contact lens for three to four days after surgery to protect the eye
  • Patients must use topical steroid drops for several weeks beyond that required in LASIK surgeries

Steps Involved in the LASEK Procedure

Due to the longer healing time with LASEK, your eye surgeon may recommend performing eye surgery on one eye first and then waiting a few weeks before operating on the second eye. Here are the steps you'll encounter with a LASEK procedure:

  1. Anesthetic eye drops are applied to prevent pain during the procedure.
  2. The eye surgeon cuts the epithelium (outer layer of corneal cells) with a hand-held surgical tool.
  3. Eye doctors apply an alcohol solution to the eye for about 30 seconds, after which it is sponged off. This solution loosens and floats the epithelium.
  4. The eye doctor gently lifts the epithelium from the eye and folds it back.
  5. To reshape the underlying cornea, doctors will use an excimer laser.
  6. Doctors then put the epithelium back in its original location. To keep the epithelium in place, doctors will place a bandage contact over the eye.
  7. A few days after the epithelium has reattached to the eye, doctors will remove the bandage contact lens.


LASEK surgery is similar to the costs associated with the LASIK procedure. As an elective surgery, health or vision insurance typically excludes coverage for LASEK.

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LASEK Vision Correction

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This article was published on 2010/10/01