LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy) and TransPRK (Trans-Epithelial Photorefractive Keratectomy) are both laser eye surgery procedures used to correct refractive vision errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. These procedures are similar in that they both involve reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. However, they differ in the way they treat the corneal epithelium (the outermost layer of the cornea) during the procedure. Here’s a comparison between LASEK and TransPRK:
**LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy):**
- **Corneal Epithelium Treatment:** In LASEK, the corneal epithelium is preserved and moved aside to expose the underlying corneal tissue for laser treatment. This is usually achieved by applying a diluted alcohol solution to loosen and lift the epithelial layer, creating a flap of epithelial cells.
- **Laser Reshaping:** An excimer laser is then used to reshape the exposed corneal tissue based on the patient’s prescription, correcting the refractive error.
- **Epithelial Flap Repositioning:** After the laser treatment, the epithelial flap is repositioned onto the treated area of the cornea. A contact lens is often placed on the eye to protect the flap during the healing process.
**TransPRK (Trans-Epithelial Photorefractive Keratectomy):**
- **Corneal Epithelium Treatment:** In TransPRK, there is no need for a separate step to create an epithelial flap. The procedure starts by using the excimer laser to remove the corneal epithelium directly.
- **Laser Reshaping:** Once the epithelium is removed, the excimer laser is used to reshape the exposed corneal tissue, correcting the refractive error.
- **Epithelial Regeneration:** Unlike LASEK, where the epithelial flap is repositioned, TransPRK allows the epithelium to regenerate naturally over the treated area. This process may take several days to a week, during which a contact lens may be worn to aid in comfort and healing.
– **Epithelial Handling:** In LASEK, an epithelial flap is created and repositioned after the laser treatment. In TransPRK, the epithelium is removed and allowed to regenerate naturally over the treated area.
– **Recovery Time:** LASEK typically has a slightly faster initial visual recovery because the repositioned epithelial flap provides a protective layer during the healing process. TransPRK might involve a slightly longer visual recovery as the regenerated epithelium heals.
– **Suitability:** TransPRK might be preferred for individuals with thinner corneas or those who may not tolerate the use of alcohol solution in LASEK. Additionally, some surgeons believe that TransPRK could be less prone to certain complications associated with alcohol use.
– **Post-Operative Comfort:** LASEK may involve more discomfort in the initial days due to the presence of the epithelial flap. TransPRK may have a smoother and more comfortable post-operative recovery period since there is no flap creation.
Both LASEK and TransPRK aim to achieve similar refractive outcomes, and the choice between them depends on factors like corneal thickness, surgeon’s recommendation, and individual patient preferences. It’s important to consult with an experienced eye care professional to determine which procedure is best suited to your specific needs and circumstances.