LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) and LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy) are both types of refractive eye surgery used to correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. They both involve the use of a laser to reshape the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, in order to improve vision. However, they differ in the way the cornea is prepared before the laser treatment. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between LASIK and LASEK:
**LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis):**
- **Corneal Flap Creation:** In LASIK, a thin, hinged flap is created on the surface of the cornea. This flap is usually made using a microkeratome (a mechanical device) or a femtosecond laser. The flap is lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue for the laser reshaping.
- **Laser Reshaping:** Once the corneal flap is lifted, an excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue according to the patient’s prescription. The laser removes a precise amount of tissue to correct the refractive error.
- **Flap Repositioning:** After the laser treatment, the corneal flap is carefully repositioned, and it naturally adheres to the underlying cornea without the need for sutures. The healing process is relatively quick, and patients often experience minimal discomfort.
**LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy):**
- **Corneal Epithelium Preservation:** In LASEK, instead of creating a corneal flap, the surgeon preserves the thin layer of surface cells called the epithelium. This layer is gently moved aside to expose the underlying corneal tissue.
- **Alcohol Solution:** A diluted alcohol solution is applied to loosen and lift the epithelial layer, creating a “flap” of epithelial cells. This flap is then gently moved aside to expose the corneal tissue for laser treatment.
- **Laser Reshaping:** Similar to LASIK, an excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue to correct the refractive error.
- **Epithelial Flap Repositioning:** After the laser treatment, the epithelial flap is repositioned onto the treated area of the cornea. A soft contact lens is placed on the eye to protect the flap as it heals and adheres to the underlying tissue. This healing process takes a bit longer compared to LASIK.
– The primary difference lies in how the cornea is prepared for the laser treatment. LASIK involves creating a corneal flap, while LASEK preserves the epithelial layer and uses an alcohol solution to create an epithelial flap.
– LASIK typically has a faster recovery time and less discomfort in the immediate postoperative period due to the creation of a corneal flap.
– LASEK may be preferred for individuals with thinner corneas or those who are not suitable candidates for LASIK.
Both LASIK and LASEK aim to achieve similar visual outcomes, but the choice between them depends on factors such as corneal thickness, individual eye characteristics, and surgeon’s recommendations. It’s important to consult with an experienced eye care professional to determine the most suitable procedure for your specific needs and circumstances.