Lasek Eye Surgery & PRK Eye Surgery
What Is LASEK?
LASEK stands for Laser Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis. LASEK laser eye surgery is the latest upgraded version of PRK laser eye surgery and is also known as "PRK epiflap" or "Advanced Surface Ablation". This eye surgery procedure was first published in 1999.
How is it different from PRK?
In PRK laser eye surgery the epithelium (top layer of the cornea) is scraped off and then the laser is applied. The epithelium then grows back over the bare area during the next few days. In LASEK surgery the epithelium is removed with a drop of weak alcohol solution, the laser applied as before, the epithelium is replaced back onto the eye and held in place with a contact lens. The contact lens is then removed a few days later. LASEK eye surgery is hence a "no knife" operation.
What advantages are there over PRK?
The main advantage over PRK eye surgery is that the risk of “haze” is less. Haze is the main risk of PRK surgery and is a deposition of scar-like material in the cornea. Haze, if it occurs, is usually maximal at about 6-8 weeks post op. It usually goes away if it occurs but can blur vision. With LASEK eye surgery the visual recovery is faster than PRK and there is usually less pain. However, especially with modern lasers, ordinary PRK eye surgery still works very well.
Can both eyes be done together with LASEK?
Yes. With PRK eyes were usually done about 12 weeks apart to make sure that there was no risk of haze in the first eye. As the risk of haze is much less with LASEK laser eye surgery, it is reasonable to do both eyes on the same day up to about –5 Dioptres. Visual recovery with LASEK eye surgery is not as fast as LASIK eye surgery. Normally the vision at one-day post op with LASIK laser eye surgery is the same as 1 week with LASEK eye surgery. At 2 weeks there is no difference.
Is there any pain with LASEK?
There is no pain during the operation, just like PRK or LASIK eye surgeries. There can be some pain afterwards but this is not usually severe. LASIK is nicer for the patient in that there is no pain and you can see the next day. However, there is more to go wrong with LASIK than any variety of surface laser. The results are the same.
What are the long-term risks?
Surface laser, in the form of PRK, has been around for longer than 12 years and there appear to be no long-term problems so far. There is no risk of corneal ectasia, unlike LASIK. As there is no flap cut into the cornea, the cornea is not weakened.
Thanks to Dr. Stephen Doyle for this information.